THE BALKAN EXPRESS by Slavenka Drakulic


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 Drakuli (How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed; Holograms of Fear--both 1992) writes, in these terse, focused pieces, about how she--and every other former Yugoslav--became a Croat (or Serb or Muslim)--and how dizzyingly fast it happened. Communism was barely two years dead when a population utterly unused to politics became its pawn--and Drakuli gives over a fine sense of how the resulting ethnic identification has stripped her of her individuality--``the most precious property I had accumulated during the forty years of my life.'' Forced to flee bombed-out Zagreb for Ljubljana in Slovenia, she discovered the meaning of exile--owning nothing, not even familiar sensations. And, however unwillingly, she became a Croat not just by birth but- -``overcome by nationhood''--by force of historical demand. Filling out the text are interviews with young gunmen (``What Ivan Said'') and an analytical letter to the author's daughter (``We didn't build a political underground of people with liberal, democratic values ready to take over the government; not because it was impossible, but on the contrary, because the repression was not hard enough to produce the need for it. If there is any excuse it is in the fact that we were deprived of the sense of the future. This was the worse thing communism did to people''). An admirable, deeply felt, mosaic-like portrait of one of the most appalling grotesqueries of modern history.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1993
ISBN: 0-393-03496-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993


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