How We Survived Communism and Even Laughedby Slavenka Drakulic
This essay collection from renowned journalist and novelist Slavenka Drakulic, which quickly became a modern (and feminist) classic, draws back the Iron Curtain for a glimpse at the lives of Eastern European women under Communist regimes. Provocative, often witty, and always intensely personal, How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed cracks open a/em>
This essay collection from renowned journalist and novelist Slavenka Drakulic, which quickly became a modern (and feminist) classic, draws back the Iron Curtain for a glimpse at the lives of Eastern European women under Communist regimes. Provocative, often witty, and always intensely personal, How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed cracks open a paradoxical world that through its rejection of capitalism and commoditization ends up fetishizing both.
Examining the relationship between material goods and expressions of happiness and individuality in a society where even bananas were an alien luxury, Drakulic homes in on the eradication of female identity, drawing on her own experiences as well as broader cultural observations. Enforced communal housing that allowed for little privacy, the banishment of many time-saving devices, and a focus on manual labor left no room for such bourgeois affectations as cosmetics or clothes, but Drakulic’s remarkable exploration of the reality behind the rhetoric reveals that women still went to desperate lengths to feel “feminine.”
How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed also chronicles the lingering consequences of such regimes. The Berlin Wall may have fallen, but Drakulic’s power pieces testify that ideology cannot be dismantled so quickly; a lifetime lived in fear cannot be so easily forgotten.
What People are saying about this
Meet the Author
Slavenka Drakulic, born in Croatia (former Yugoslavia) in 1949, is the author of five novels and five nonfiction books. She is a contributing editor to The Nation and her essays have appeared in The New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, and the New York Review of Books.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Very good book.
Basically, this book forms a sort of trilogy (with 'Balkan Express' and 'Cafe Europa') of life before, during, and after the demise of Jugoslavia. All three books are fascinating and enjoyable to read. As proof of her writing skills, the author possesses an ability to express the positive and the distasteful in the subjects she covers. Such ideas as why a refugee needs high-heeled shoes or a discussion of how easily a consummate politician like Tudjman escapes a confrontation are fascinating writing, and the author covers the subject, in depth, in very short, articulate essays. Anyone intersted in Jugoslavia or the formerly-communist world should read all three books.
The majesty of this collection of Drakulic's essays lies in the author's ability to turn ordinary events into philosophical forums on government, society, and feminism. Many western authors have attempted to narrate the history of East Europeans under communism, and of those scholars many have succeeded. Yet personal experience underlies narratives with a stronger fiber; and Drakulic's birth and life in Croatia make her an eyewitness to circumstances of which many Westerners have no conception. Drakulic does not forget to include the smaller, rarely mentioned details of female life in the former Yugoslavia -- such as the type of stockings worn, the process of making soup, gossip around the kitchen table. She humanizes Eastern Europe, and in doing so documents a country that begins to break apart a year after the publishing date. Yet this is not 'dead' history -- former communist countries still struggle with the same issues they did a decade ago. This is so much more than a scholarly work -- it is lively, captivating, and thoroughly ravishing. I couldn't put it down.