Cafe Europa: Life After Communism by Slavenka Drakulic

By Slavenka Drakulic

This present day in japanese Europe the architectural paintings of revolution is entire: the previous order has been changed via quite a few kinds of unfastened industry economic climate and de jure democracy. yet as Slavenka Drakulic observes, "in way of life, the revolution is composed even more of the small things—of sounds, seems and images." during this very good paintings of political reportage, filtered via her personal event, we see that Europe is still a divided continent. within the position of the fallen Berlin Wall there's a chasm among East and West, including the various approach humans proceed to stay and comprehend the area. Little bits—or intimations—of the West are steadily making their method east: boutiques sporting Levis and tiny nutrients retailers referred to as "Supermarket" are multiplying on major boulevards. even though Drakulic can discover a Cafe Europa, whole with Viennese-style espresso and Western decor, in exactly approximately each japanese eu urban, the reputation of the East by way of the remainder of Europe keeps to end up even more elusive.


Introduction: First-Person Singular
Café Europa
Invisible partitions among Us
Why I by no means Visited Moscow
In Zoe’s Bathroom
To Have and To Have Not
A Smile in Sofia
The Pillbox Effect
Money, and the way To Get It
The hassle With Sales
My Frustration With Germany
The significance o f donning a Uniform
A Premeditated Murder
A King for the Balkans
Buying a Vacuum Cleaner
A Nostalgic social gathering on the Graveyard
On undesirable enamel
A Croat between Jews
My Father’s Guilt
People from the 3 Borders
He Sleeps Like a Baby
W ho’s Afraid o f Tito’s Wife?
An Unforgettable assembly
Still caught within the Mud
Bosnia, or What Europe skill to Us

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I’ll also have several prescriptions made up at the chemist’s for my mother’s neighbour, and 40 | Café Europa while I’m there I’ll buy multi-vitamins (also a good present, because they are very expensive at home). Then there are cosmetics, perfumes and other gifts. After passing the Austrian border I will inevitably go to the duty-free shop for whisky and good cigarettes - for the doctor who takes care of my family. Little by little, my car will be filled with goods, mostly presents. Why do I do this every time I go back to Zagreb, regardless of whether I am travelling by train or by car?

At least it would in theory — in practice it did not quite work. I vividly recall a big campaign in Yugoslavia more than ten years ago. It was organised by the government under the slogan: ‘If you have a house, give back your apartment’. The idea was that those who had been able to build their own private houses should return their apartments to their local community, firm, institution, school, hospital, or whoever else provided them with their tenants’ rights. The reason behind this campaign was, of course, the shortage of housing, and the guiding principle was the egalitarian one: you cannot have both an apartment and a house while others have nothing.

And as I took a close look at the public in the room that evening, I had to admit that, yes, in the eyes of the public I must have been bracketed with the rest of that bunch of writers. The town where we attended the literary festival is a spa, and many who live there are wealthy, retired people. Since this festival was one of the very few events happening there, they came to our readings and discussions showing great interest — white-haired men with walking sticks and hearing aids, fragile, bird-like ladies with a lot of gold hanging around their necks and innocent smiles on their faces, plus a few local intellectuals, journalists and teachers of literature.

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