Spotlight with Iris Novak, author of An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia
An Independent Woman in Yugoslavia is the true story of a woman named Iris who was born as a poor and frightened country girl in the ex-Yugoslavia. However she felt that she could achieve what she was determined to and had enormous energy that helped her to follow her many life goals.
Living in a country that was situated between the Western and Eastern Europe in the second half of the twentieth century offered her challenges from both different geopolitical and cultural worlds. Her parents came from two opposite sides: her father from a Communist environment and her mother from a poor Catholic family. They had quite different characters: her father was violent and revengeful while her mother was a happy and optimistic person. When Iris became a teenager, her teacher tried to put her on the list of perspective young Communists but Iris managed to evade. Iris refused invitations to the Communist Party also later when she got employed although she knew that non-members of the Communist Party did not have almost any opportunity to achieve leading positions. She was a rather critical believer but always remained Catholic and also decided for religious education of her children.
Her family and her neighbours found her a rather simple girl but as soon as she entered school she was always at the top of the class. She managed to successfully finish her grammar school, the university and PhD. Her studies helped her find several good jobs in quite different areas and in different institutions: a large company dealing with international business, the Slovenian National and University Library, the largest School of foreign languages and finally open her own business. Iris was successful in in international business, in the library and in the school for foreign languages; she left her privileged position and good salary and established her own firm. She was aware that this meant living in poverty again but still believed that she would one day be successful again.
Iris’s family brought about a number of distinctive situations as well. She was living in poverty and in constant fear till her mother divorced her violent husband. She was a teenager when her family built their own house but it did not make them happy. Iris, her mother and her brother had to leave their house without everything. When she married, she thought that she finally found a man whom she would love till the end of her life. However, she soon discovered that she had to accept her mother-in-law as an essential part of her married life and it was even worse when she had to start a struggle against her own husband to win some respect. On the other hand her mother remained her support till the end of her life and her children were a blessing.
Iris spent so many amazing events in her life: absolute love between a mother and a daughter, always being among the best students, falling in love with a young intellectual and changing in a beauty, finding a husband whom she loved, always getting good jobs and increasing her education, and feeling that death did not break the ties with her beloved ones. She always found it a miracle that she could join three children and a career and that she became a deeply religious person although she was living and working in a Communist country.
It was unusual life in which there was no routine. Iris had to struggle and adapt herself to always new positions and new roles that were placed in front of her. However, she had a lot of energy and a strong will to overcome troubles in her family life, in education and in business. Iris is an energetic character who used all her strength to achieve what she wanted and many women will find her as a model to follow in one or another way.
About the Author
The author writes under the pseudonym Iris Novak. She was born in the second half of the twentieth century in Slovenia, the northern part of the then Yugoslavia. She graduated from English and German, acquired her MA in Management and PhD in Librarianship. She worked in the international business, in librarianship, was director of a school for foreign languages and finally established her own business: employment agency and a college. The author lives in Slovenia, is married and has three children.