The novel Ruta Tannenbaum is by prolific, award-winning Croatian author Miljenko Jergovic. First published in 2006, the story illuminates life and society in Yugoslavia between the world wars. The title character was inspired by real-life figure Lea Deutsch, the now-forgotten Shirley Temple of Yugoslavia, who was murdered in the Holocaust.
Using their shared Jewish heritage as a starting point, Jergovic constructs a fictional family history populated by historical figures with the precocious Ruta at the center. Stephen Dickey’s translation masterfully captures Jergovic´’s colloquial yet deeply observed style, which animates the tangled and troubled history of persecution and war in Croatia.