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Balkan Blues: Writing out of Yugoslavia written by Joanna Labon

 

Balkan Blues: Writing out of Yugoslavia written by Joanna Labon

Overview:

'Balkan Blues: Writing Out of Yugoslavia' was first published as a special issue of 'Storm', the British literary journal of new eastern European writing, and appears in this country for the first time. Joanna Labon has selected excellent, timely pieces in various genres by exiled or silenced members of the true 'Yugoslav' intelligentsia.

Synopsis:

'Balkan Blues: Writing Out of Yugoslavia' was first published as a special issue of 'Storm', the British literary journal of new eastern European writing, and appears in this country for the first time. Joanna Labon has selected excellent, timely pieces in various genres by exiled or silenced members of the true 'Yugoslav' intelligentsia.

Publishers Weekly

The Balkan blues as they're played here are also urban blues. In short stories, a novel extract, a play and essays, writers from the former Yugoslavia write riffs on cities where layers of history remind anyone who's paying attention that the Balkan past isn't monolithic. In ``The City and Death,'' architect and former mayor of Belgrade, Bogdan Bogdanovic, writes eloquently about the city as a warehouse of memories and the desire by some to disperse and destroy it. Drago Jancar ruminates on ``Augsburg,'' the prosperous German city of the 16th century Peace of Augsburg from the edge of another war of religion. The highlight is Dubravka Ugresic's ``Balkan Blues,'' a collection of short, wry pieces documenting the perniciousness of folklore. ``For some fifty years, the Yugoslav peoples had pranced and capered, twirled and tripped in their brightly coloured national costumes,'' she writes, adding ``Probably in order that it should not occur to those same nations to seek anything other than folklore, their own state or geographical identity for instance.'' But now folklore has become virulently reactionary, often misogynistic and wildly chauvinistic. Originally, the sixth number of the British-based periodical Storm, the book includes some less successful pieces: Goran Stefanovski's play; the tortuous first chapter of Dragan Velikic's novel Astrakhan; and Danilo Kis's story about playwright and novelist dn von Horvth, a posthumous resurrection that needed more work. Overall, though, the collection does give a taste of the variety and sophistication of writing from this tortured region. (Oct.)

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Title: Balkan Blues: Writing out of Yugoslavia

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