In March, the magazine Fiction Advocate published an interview with translator Sebastian Schulman about his translation of Spomenka Štimec’s Kroata milita noktlibro into English.

In addition to questions about the work itself, the interviewer asks:

Interviewer: At first it seems odd: why is this book about life in Croatia during the war in 1990 written in Esperanto?

Schulman: […] The main languages of Yugoslavia, whether we call them Croatian, Bosnian, or Serbian, or some combination thereof, are all mutually intelligible. And yet one of the principal ideas about Esperanto used to be that a common auxiliary language between disparate peoples would help bring about peace instead of conflict. The use of Esperanto to write about the ultimate failure of communication between peoples united by a common language is then a biting critique of the false promises that both “Yugoslavia” and “Esperanto” seemed to offer […]

Yet, the choice of Esperanto isn’t just an instrument of critique. Stimec also uses Esperanto to embed a profound sense of optimism in the work. Although the world of the novel is in absolute disarray, the belief the people are still good and that hard, difficult work can bring us to a better place is at the core. What better language to keep the embers of hope alive than Esperanto — the word itself means “one who hopes.”