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Belgrade: The Late Bloomer of the East

Belgrade: The Late Bloomer of the East

“Traffic here works according to the principle of self-determination,” my friend Oliver tells me. “You wait for a good opportunity to cross. If there isn’t one, you have to create one. Just stare down the cars and hope for the best!” The wide street is feeding more cars into the roundabout on Slavija Square, in […]

Book Review: The Lute and the Scars, by Danilo Kiš

Book Review: The Lute and the Scars, by Danilo Kiš

Witness to an Imagined World Literary rumor holds that Danilo Kiš was due to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1989. Instead, he died of lung cancer, at fifty-four. Had he been awarded the prize, surely the stories in The Lute and the Scars would have been translated long ago from their original Serbo-Croatian. […]

The Yugosphere: Not Just Balkan Nostalgia

The Yugosphere: Not Just Balkan Nostalgia

It is Saturday night. Boys in tight T-shirts and close-cut military hairstyles throw around boisterous jokes, encouraged by shots of schnapps they have just taken. Tipsy girls in miniskirts teeter under an onslaught of laughter. This is a common scene anywhere in the city on any given Saturday night. Tonight, however, we are on Ottakringer […]

Book Review: Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife

Book Review: Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife

Fear and Myth: The Law of the Jungle The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht’s spellbinding debut novel, acutely depicts postwar life in a Balkan country resembling the former Yugoslavia, where history and myth form a potent mix, and the restless souls of the dead continue to trouble the living. Winner of the 2011 Orange Prize and […]

Shopping with a Post-Communist Conscience

These days it is difficult to defend yourself against the lure of shopping. As you walk down the street, you can see signs offering discounts of 50% or 70%, as shops seek to clear their floors for the summer’s merchandise. Perhaps the signs are not as exciting to youngsters as they are to my generation, […]

Let’s talk about the Balkans

The first political talk show to be broadcast simultaneously across Balkan countries since the break up of Yugoslavia went on air in April, with support from ERSTE Foundation, the charity wing of the Austrian bank. In the five episodes of Okruženje (Vicinities) broadcast in Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia, guests from the different countries discussed […]

Vukovar Re-Visited

Vukovar Re-Visited

“Does this train strike you as taking you to a nice place?” asks my only fellow passenger in the sole carriage of an old “Swede”. We’re on our way to Vukovar. The train was built in Sweden in the early 1980s and, having completed its service there, was installed in Croatia in the 1990s. This […]

Book Review: Ana Tajder’s Titoland

Book Review: Ana Tajder’s Titoland

A Childhood In ‘Titoland’ At school, I had to wear a blue uniform. For “Brotherhood and Equality” – that was the motto of Tito’s Yugoslavia. And Tito was watching. Always and everywhere. To make sure we were brotherly enough. And equal enough. A black and white photo of Tito hung in every classroom. Right above […]

All Is Fear in Love and War

The year is 1992. A young couple hold each other close in a lively dancehall. Their story seems only to be beginning. Yet the moment is shattered when a bomb explodes nearby; soon it becomes clear that not only this burgeoning romance, but an entire world of emotional and social ties is coming to a […]

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