Sara Novic teaches in the Popular Fiction MFA program at Emerson College, and is an instructor of Deaf studies at Stockton University. Her first novel, Girl at War, won the American Library Association's Alex Award, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Novic has an MFA in fiction and literary translation from Columbia University, and lives with her family in Philadelphia.
Follow Sara on Instagram: @photonovic
Driven by the interlinked lives of a headteacher and one of her pupils, Sara Novic’s True Biz is an incredibly compelling, stirring story that takes in civil rights and disability rights through the coming-of-age tumult of a rebellious deaf teenager. As Charlie tackles the challenges of being brought up in a hearing household and how she’s been treated by the medical profession, headteacher February faces a fight to keep her school open, and her marriage on track. Until she starts at River Valley School for the Deaf, Charlie has never met a deaf person. Her hearing parents are divorced, and her relationship with her mother has always been a fractious tinderbox. Amidst this turmoil, Charlie arrives at her new school unable to sign, with a cochlear implant that’s done little to help her — “the language acquisition skills the doctors had promised post-implant had been slow to materialise”. Through Charlie’s longstanding, painful problems with her implant, True Biz addresses the ethics of non-consensual implants, and also tells of “hospital horror stories” experienced by deaf patients, with medical professionals overlooking, disregarding, or not recognising cries for help. The story is also interspersed with information on ASL (America Sign Language) and Deaf history. For example, we learn how Alexander Graham Bell propagated eugenics in his belief that sign language should be eradicated, and that Black ASL (BASL) developed as a result of the segregation of students. True Biz also reveals enduring racism towards BASL — how the language is stigmatised. At school, while Charlie tries to fit in and find friends, she experiences the awakenings of first love and lusts, and comes to a political awakening, too. The various characters’ stories are brilliantly interlinked, and make for a tremendously powerful novel that’s tender, absorbing and altogether illuminating.
Growing up in Zagreb in the summer of 1991, 10-year-old Ana Juric is a carefree tomboy; she runs the streets with her best friend, Luka, helps take care of her baby sister, Rahela, and idolizes her father. But when civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, football games and school lessons are supplanted by sniper fire and air raid drills. The brutal ethnic cleansing of Croats and Bosnians tragically changes Ana's life, and she is lost to a world of genocide and child soldiers; a daring escape plan to America becomes her only chance for survival. Ten years later she returns to Croatia, a young woman struggling to belong to either country, forced to confront the trauma of her past and rediscover the place that was once her home.
For readers ofThe Tiger's WifeandAll the Light We Cannot Seecomes a powerful debut novel about a girl's coming of ageand how her sense of family, friendship, love, and belonging is profoundly shaped by war.NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BOOKPAGE,BOOKLIST, AND ELECTRIC LITERATURE *; ALEX AWARD WINNER *; LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FINALIST *;LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION Zagreb, 1991. Ana Juri is a carefree ten-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia's capital. But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana's idyllic childhood. Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire. Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana's sense of safety starts to fray. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world. New York, 2001. Ana is now a college student in Manhattan. Though she's tried to move on from her past, she can't escape her memories of warsecrets she keeps even from those closest to her. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country's difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before. Moving back and forth through time, Girl at War is an honest, generous, brilliantly written novel that illuminates how history shapes the individual. Sara Novi fearlessly shows the impact of war on one young girland its legacy on all of us. It's a debut by a writer who has stared into recent history to find a story that continues to resonate today. Praise for Girl at War';Outstanding . . . Girl at War performs the miracle of making the stories of broken lives in a distant country feel as large and universal as myth.'The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)';[An] old-fashioned page-turner that will demand all of the reader's attention, happily given. A debut novel that astonishes.'Vanity Fair ';Shattering . . . The book begins with what deserves to become one of contemporary literature's more memorable opening lines. The sentences that follow are equally as lyrical as a folk lament and as taut as metal wire wrapped through an electrified fence.'USA Today