Two Underdogs and a Cat: Three Reflections on Communism (What Was Communism? Series)

Overview

Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic here presents an unorthodox, imaginative take on the transition from Communism to capitalism in the former Soviet Union.  Three characters—a dog, an underdog, and a cat—offer the reader narratives that reflect on life under Communism and what has followed in its wake.

The first, “An Interview with the Oldest Dog in Bucharest,” is about a dog named Charlie, whose mother, Mimi, together with thousands of other pets, was thrown out into ...

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Overview

Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic here presents an unorthodox, imaginative take on the transition from Communism to capitalism in the former Soviet Union.  Three characters—a dog, an underdog, and a cat—offer the reader narratives that reflect on life under Communism and what has followed in its wake.

The first, “An Interview with the Oldest Dog in Bucharest,” is about a dog named Charlie, whose mother, Mimi, together with thousands of other pets, was thrown out into the street during the Ceausescu regime. In this interview, Charlie describes how not only people but animals, too, became victims during the destruction of downtown neighborhoods in Bucharest in order to build a pyramid-like “Palace of the People.” In “A Guided Tour of the Museum of Communism,” a 60-year-old souvenir vendor-cum-cleaning woman in Prague reflects upon the meaning of such a museum and concludes wryly that she herself is possibly the Museum’s best exhibit. Finally, “A Cat-keeper in Warsaw” describes an encounter with a person “of feline origin” who claims to be in possession of the cat-keeper called “General”—who declared martial law in Poland on December 13, 1981.

The three stories are unified by powerful, but troubling questions: Are democracy and capitalism really a change for the better? Is the idea of social justice lost forever? Is there is such a thing as collective responsibility? And how do we remember and understand our past?

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Editorial Reviews

Sydney Morning Herald
"Very strange, but oddly compelling, this little book looks at life after communism in Eastern Europe from the points of view of three animals: the resident mouse in Prague's Museum of Communism, the oldest dog in Bucharest and a pompous female cat called Gorby from Warsaw, the pet of an 86-year-old general now on trial for his activities under communist rule. . . .What the book does is tackle difficult and complex questions about the nature of morality, responsibility and history. It asks why the baby of principle should be thrown out with the bathwater of practice and whether the post-communist situation is, in fact, preferable in every respect."--Sydney Morning Herald
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Slavenka Drakulic is an author and journalist whose books include Café Europa, As If I Am Not There, They Would Never Hurt a Fly: War Criminals on Trial in the Hague, and Fridas Bed. She is also a frequent contributor to journals such as the New Republic, Nation, New York Times, and the New York Review of Books.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
 
A Guided Tour through the Museum of Communism
 
An Interview with the Oldest Dog in Bucharest
 
The Cat-Keeper in Warsaw
(A Letter to the Prosecutor)

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