Slavenka Drakulić
Croatia / Sweden
Slavenka Drakulic was born in Rijeka, Croatia, in 1949. From 1982 to 1992, she worked as a journalist for the Zagreb weeklies Start Cultural and Danas.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1989, Drakulic published the novel "The Principle of Longing". In 1991, she also published "How we survived communism and even laughed". Later she commented on the civil war in the Balkans in publications such as "Dying in Croatia – On the War in the Heart of Europe" (1992). After the end of the war, Drakulic participated as an observer in the hearings of the International Tribunal of War Criminals in Den Haag and some courts in Croatia. This led to a book about the perpetrators during the Balkan War: "They would never hurt a fly" (Keiner war dabei – Kriegsverbrechen auf dem Balkan vor Gericht, 2004). In this she analyses the banality of evil and the psychology of terror as two of the great challenges of the 20th and 21st centuries and questions how the war was possible. In Den Haag, Drakulic was confronted by the horrifying "Banality of Evil": inconspicuous men "from next door" who were responsible for "ethnic cleansing" from the Kraijna to Sarajevo, for the massacre of Srebrenica or the rape of Bosnian women; men whose dreadful normality underlines the fact that a capacity for evil is inherent in every man or woman.

She also described the suffering of the victims. In her novel "Kao da me nema" (As if I Didn't Exist, 1999), she tells the story of a young Bosnian woman teacher, who is carried off to a Serbian concentration camp for women and repeatedly raped.

Slavenka Drakulic stubbornly calls for the individualisation of guilt and responsibility, but she meets with opposition to this demand in her home country: "Too many people were involved in the war, and a very large number of them profited from it. It is easier and more comfortable to live with a lie than with the truth - with the possibility of individual blame and collective moral and political responsibility."

To voice the unmentionable and to take a look at the very depths of human existence is a challenge that Slavenka Drakulic repeatedly imposes on herself – not only in her books about the war in former Yugoslavia. In her novel "Mramorna koza" (Marble Skin, 1998), for example, she describes the relationship – oscillating between eroticism and violence – between a girl in puberty and her mother's lover; the novel "Bozanska glad" (The Taste of a Man, 1997) is the story of a young woman who murders her lover and eats him in order to be one with him for ever, and "Hologrami straha" (The Principle of Longing, 1989) relates a young woman's struggle with a life-threatening illness. Incest, cannibalism, illness, war, rape – these are the excesses of human existence, and Slavenka Drakulic is not afraid to make them into the subject of her writing.