At the age of 11, Mary Novakovich’s parents sent her to visit family in the former Yugoslavia for the summer. It would be the first of many trips Mary would take to what would become Croatia. Years later, as a journalist and travel writer, Mary brought together the stories of her experiences in Croatia and published My Family and Other Enemies: Life and Travels in Croatia’s Hinterland in 2022. This travel memoir won the 2023 British Guild of Travel Writers Adele Evans award for best travel narrative book, and it was shortlisted for the 2023 Stanford Travel Book of the Year.
During our recent conversation, Mary spoke about why she found the process of writing a book more “liberating” than her other work with articles and stories; how she approached writing about members of her family, especially when thinking about very traumatic events; how she attempted to find balance with the difficult history and the current culture of Croatia; how who you’re traveling with affects the way you understand a place; and why writing both listicles and travel narratives has worked out so well for her.
Listen to the full conversation here:
Cover photo credit: Adam Batterbee