FORBIDDEN BREAD by Erica Johnson Debeljak


A Memoir
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A caught-between-two-worlds memoir by an American who married a Slovenian and now lives in Ljubljana.

After meeting her black-haired Slovenian poet at a party in Brooklyn in 1991, the author resolved to renounce her life as a financial analyst in New York, marry him and live in Slovenia, which had been a republic of Yugoslavia until after the Ten Day War with the Yugoslav army in 1991. Aleš Debeljak had just won a prestigious national poetry award and wanted to move back permanently to his newly independent country. When the author first told them about her decision, her family, friends and colleagues thought she was crazy, a sentiment driven mostly by their utter ignorance about the country. Ensconced in Ljubljana, the picturesque capital designed by Jože Plecnik, Debeljak attended language school—her rendering of vernacular vocabulary is quite funny—occasionally went out at night with Aleš to one of the city’s three bars, became thoroughly acquainted with the stultifying maze of bureaucracy and, when she became pregnant, was confronted with a slew of superstitious beliefs she was powerless to resist. However, she gradually came to love her husband’s forest-filled homeland and its many fractured identities. Though the story is now dated more than 15 years, it serves as a touching record of the mores of a country that remains a strange, unknown land to most Western readers.

Witty and warm.

Pub Date: April 7th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55643-740-3
Page count: 262pp
Publisher: North Atlantic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2009