The Kings of Krajina by Steven Yuresko
Steven Yuresko’s novel about the Yugoslav war of 1991-1995 describes the journey of one Croatian police officer through an intense battle of hatred, prejudice, and misunderstanding. Police lieutenant Ljubomir is hard headed and dedicated, refusing to move his family out of a war zone until the last minute, which results in him landing in a labor camp. After months working to construct a fancy hotel, Ljubomir becomes the head of a Croatian resistance group in the ancient Roman fortress that his uncle used to tell him wonderful, if not magical, stories about. Fighting against old Serbian neighbors and losing loved ones, the siege is not easy, but Ljubomir remains dedicated to his family, his people, and the history of the ancient ruins that he has always loved. While things frequently don’t always go according to plan, the bravery and dedication of Ljubomir’s crew is remarkable and their journey is unforgettable.
While Yuresko’s writing style in The Kings of Krajina originally seemed bland and maybe even robotic, the author’s dry sense of humor and straight forward story telling style quickly became more and more enjoyable. With lines that seemed to be too funny to be in such a tragic setting, Yuresko humanized every character and revealed to the reader that conflict can be damaging and scarring without taking the whole soul. Yuresko’s depiction of historical events is eye opening and sad, but it also reminds us that beauty, belief, and maybe just a little bit of magic can be enough to help you survive.