A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism: Fables from a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, and a Raven

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Overview

A wry, cutting deconstruction of the Communist empire by one of Eastern Europe's exceptional authors.

Called "a perceptive and amusing social critic, with a wonderful eye for detail" by The Washington Post, Slavenka Drakulic-a native of Croatia-has emerged as one of the most popular and respected critics of Communism to come out of the former Eastern Bloc. In A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism, she offers a eight-part exploration of Communism by way of an unusual cast...

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A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism: Fables from a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, and a Raven

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Overview

A wry, cutting deconstruction of the Communist empire by one of Eastern Europe's exceptional authors.

Called "a perceptive and amusing social critic, with a wonderful eye for detail" by The Washington Post, Slavenka Drakulic-a native of Croatia-has emerged as one of the most popular and respected critics of Communism to come out of the former Eastern Bloc. In A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism, she offers a eight-part exploration of Communism by way of an unusual cast of narrators, each from a different country, who reflect on the fall of Communism. Together they constitute an Orwellian send-up of absurdities during the final years of European Communism that showcase this author's tremendous talent.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drakulic, Croatian journalist and author of Café Europa, presents a condensed and whimsical history of communism filtered through the perspective of animals who share little tales that largely focus on figures like Tito and Ceausescu. Along the way, Drakulic achieves a measured (if silly) survey of communism and its fall that is neither vitriolic nor nostalgic, nor wholly cynical or awed by Western capitalism. Running throughout is an awareness of how the past is eroding, with young people blissfully unaware of history. The animal narrators—a mouse, a bear, a dog among them—are generally charming, though the harshness of the book's subject and the quaintness of its methodology makes for odd pairings, with some of the attempted lightheartedness coming off as awkward or just plain botched (as with the pig who is supposedly writing an introduction to a cookbook but instead goes on a political screed). It's a strange project, partially successful, and likely to hold undeniable appeal to a limited audience. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews

In a series of fables set in Eastern Europe, Drakulic (Two Underdogs and a Cat: Three Reflections on Communism, 2009, etc.), a native of Croatia, explores with wit, grace and humor the collapse of communism.

The author begins her collection with the memoirs of Bohumil, a mouse now housed in a school cabinet in The Museum of Communism in Prague. The conceit of this first story is that Bohumil is leading Hans, a mouse from Würzburg, on a tour of the museum, which is full of "ugly things" and hence a refuge from all the beautiful buildings in Prague. The museum even contains an interrogation room as an unnostalgic reminder of the recent political past. In the next story the narrator is Koki, a talking parrot who recounts his past history with Marshal Tito. Koki presents Tito not only as the establisher of a personality cult but as a dashing figure, a ladies' man who "[exudes] charisma even when wearing shorts." The following story features Todor, a dancing bear from Bulgaria who wonders whether he's in fact a symbol of society. (He is.) And so it goes. Other sections are narrated by a cat, a mole (who tunnels under the Berlin Wall), a pig (who notices she bears a striking resemblance to Miss Piggy), the oldest dog in Bucharest and, finally, a psychotic raven. The latter provides one of the most interesting turns in Drakulic's fiction, for the raven has flown into a psychiatric hospital in Albania, and years later the psychiatrist who treated the raven left a journal of her notes to her son, who tries to make sense of his mother's experience. The son believes his mother has written about Mr. Raven, as he is called, in a kind of code—that he's not a raven at all but rather someone who entered the hospital and needed to disguise his identity.

It's no coincidence that the epigraph of this fiction is from George Orwell, for Drakulic is similarly aware of moral failure and political excess.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118633
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Slavenka Drakulic was born in Croatia in 1949. The author of several works of nonfiction and novels, she has written for The New York Times, The Nation, The New Republic, and numerous publications around the world.

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Customer Reviews

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    Posted November 25, 2012

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