Tarle was on hand in person to promote her latest novel at the Croatian Centre in Vienna at an event moderated by Hrvatske novine magazine editor Petar Tyran.

Writer and opinion journalist Tuga Tarle, a retired professional diplomat and an active promoter of Croatian culture in the world (Chile, Spain, Australia, Slovakia), was on hand in person to promote her novel Moja australska priča (My Australian Story) at the Croatian Centre in Vienna on the 1st of March at an event moderated by Hrvatske novine magazine editor Petar Tyran.

Also on hand for the event was Croatian ambassador to Austria Dr Vesna Cvjetković.

“This is a nostalgic but also instructive tale of the challenges faced in the emigrant communities, targeted to both children and adults,” said Tyran, referring to the novel’s author as a “spokesperson for emigrant Croatia and for all migrants and refugees.”

He noted that the book includes authentic discussions and notes taken from letters that the author’s daughter Maša Tarle wrote as an eleven year old, sending them from Australia to her friends in Croatia. Various events and experiences in the life of the heroine in her early years growing up in a foreign land, with no knowledge of the English language and in an environment radically different from the milieu from which she was “torn” forced her to undertake a not always simple or painless adaptation to her new life circumstances, an experience well known to Croatians around the world.

“I lived as if in a dream until Australia sobered me up,” Tarle said, adding that she came to Australia with her husband and four children in 1989, “listening to the rose-coloured anecdotes of her already emigrant friends.”

“We rarely consider what it means for a child to change their environment in these years,” she added, noting that Maša wrote of matters of importance in life.

“This book, with Maša’s stories, sends a clear message to all those who have abandoned their homeland,” said Tyran, noting that this is a major Croatian book, written with a flowing narrative, that offers a vibrant and exceptionally realistic depiction of the Croatian emigrant communities.

“I have visited many countries in the course of my career as a diplomat, from New Zealand to Ecuador, and have never met a Croatia that was not dreaming of Croatia,” Tarle said, adding that this was likely what led her to select the topic “The Croatian Diaspora and the Myth of A Return” for her doctoral dissertation, and to her feeling that people need, as she says, “to be at home”.

“For all those who have left, a return is not possible. It is an illusion, because the children come, then the grandchildren, other obligations, and it all becomes unachievable, and nostalgia is ever more present,” says the author, who was herself a Croatian emigrant. Asked where the Croatian emigrant community is most robust, she singled out Chile, in spite of the fact that this community did not preserve its use of the Croatian language, unlike the Croatian community in Ecuador, which continues to use the language to the present day.

At the end of the promotion Tuga Tarle read an excerpt from her book, and a symbolic thought of her daughter Maša: “Before leaving for Australia we were poor, but happy”. A powerful emotional message to all those who have abandoned or are preparing to abandon their homeland, Tyran concluded.

Also on hand to speak was Mladen Heruc, a Croatian activist in Slovakia, who discussed his plans to undertake the first translation of Tuga Tarle’s novel Ariadnina nit (Ariadne’s Thread) into the Slovak language.

Well-known musician, Viennese resident and ethnic Croatian Josip Čenić provided musical interludes with guitar accompaniment at the promotion. (Fenix Magazin)

By: Snježana Herek