Novak_Dark Mother Earth_28361_PB_FL_v4.indd
2021 Longlist

Dark Mother Earth


Translated from the Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursac

2021 Longlist

An amnesiac writer’s life of lies and false memories reaches a breaking point in this stunning English-language debut from an award-winning Croatian author. As a novelist, Matija makes things up for a living. Not yet thirty, he’s written two well-received books. It’s his third that is as big a failure as his private life. Unable to confine his fabrications to fiction, he’s been abandoned by his girlfriend over his lies. But all Matija has is invention. Especially when it comes to his childhood and the death of his father. Whatever happened to Matija as a young boy, he can’t remember. He feels frightened, angry, and responsible…Now, after years of burying and reinventing his past, Matija must confront it. Longing for connection, he might even win back the love of his life. But discovering the profound fears he has suppressed has its risks. Finally seeing the real world he emerged from could upend it all over again.

About the Author

Kristian Novak is a Croatian writer, linguist, and university professor. His novel Dark Mother Earth was awarded the Tportal Prize for Croatian Novel of the Year and was named one of the ten best Croatian novels in the last fifty years by Večernji list. The novel was successfully adapted for the stage, and a film adaptation is in the works. Novak is also the author of The Hanged and Gypsy, Yet So Beautiful, which was the recipient of the Gjalski Prize. Dark Mother Earth is his English-language debut.

Ellen Elias-Bursac is a free-lance literary translator and independent scholar  President of the American Literary Translators Association  Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

She has been working as a literary and community translator since the mid-1970’s, starting when she lived in Yugoslavia (Zagreb, Croatia) from 1974 to 1990. Just a year before the war broke out in Yugoslavia, the family moved back to the Boston area where Ellen is from. She taught for ten years in the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department of Harvard University as a preceptor (language instructor). After that she went to work at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, where she spent a total of six and a half years as a translator/reviser in the English Translation Unit.

Librarian’s Comments

Novak’s story is a dark and frightening one, taking us to mystical levels of reality and memory. We follow the story of a young, successful writer Matija, who is dealing with writer’s block. In search of inspiration, he turns to his childhood, which leads to a personal and emotional struggle with repressed, traumatic events. This exceptional story takes us on a difficult and sometimes disturbing journey one man must go on to confront buried sadness, fears, strange deaths and local myths and legends, so he can finally be free from his perplexed past. Gradska knjižnica Rijeka, Croatia



Amazon Publishing


Stay in touch and sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates on the Dublin Literary Award.