Balkan Blues: Writing out of Yugoslavia


This collection first appeared as a special issue of Storm, the British literary journal of new eastern European writing. Joanna Labon has selected excellent, timely essays, stories, drama, and prose by exiled or silenced members of the Yugoslav intelligentsia.

Contributors: Dubravka Ugre?ic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Dragan Velikic, Danilo Ki?, Drago Jancar, Mirko Kovac, Goran Stefanovski, D?evad Karahasan, and Slobodan Blagojevic.

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This collection first appeared as a special issue of Storm, the British literary journal of new eastern European writing. Joanna Labon has selected excellent, timely essays, stories, drama, and prose by exiled or silenced members of the Yugoslav intelligentsia.

Contributors: Dubravka Ugrešic, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Dragan Velikic, Danilo Kiš, Drago Jancar, Mirko Kovac, Goran Stefanovski, Dževad Karahasan, and Slobodan Blagojevic.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A remarkable editorial achievement."
—Mark Thompson, Guardian

"Politics, war and landscape are indissolubly wedded, the beauty sustains the suffering, the suffering deepens and gives dark new meaning to the beauty."
—Hugh Barnes, Independent

"A collection of contemporary writers celebrating the vibrant culture of what was Yugoslavia even as they verify its end." —American Bookseller

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810113251
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Series: Writings from an Unbound Europe
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 4.75 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanna Labon was born in 1962 and graduated from Manchester University.  She worked as a bookseller and as an editor at Faber and Faber before fouding Storm in 1990.  She was the publisher Jonathan Cape's foreign literature advisor from 1991 to 1993 and for the past several years has been the Institute of Contemporary Arts' main consultant on eastern Europe.  She lives in London. 

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Table of Contents


Dubravka Ugrešic     Balkan Blues

Bogdan Bogdanovic     The City and Death

Drago Jancar    Augsburg

Dževad Karahasan    Sarajevo: Portrait of an Inward City

Mirko Kovac    Farewell to Mother

Danilo Kiš    A Man with No Country

Slobodan Blagojevic    Here I Am!

Goran Stefanovski     Sarajevo: Tales from a City (A Play)

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