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An evocative and timely collection of essays that paints a portrait of Eastern Europe thirty years after the end of communism.
An immigrant with a parrot in Stockholm, a photo of a girl in Lviv, a sculpture of Alexander the Great in Skopje, a memorial ceremony for the 50th anniversary of the Soviet led army invasion of Prague: these are a few glimpses of life in Eastern Europe today. Three decades after the Velvet Revolution, Slavenka Drakulic, the author of Cafe Europa and A Guided Tour of the Museum Of Communism, takes a look at what has changed and what has remained the same in the region in her daring new essay collection.
Totalitarianism did not die overnight and democracy did not completely transform Eastern European societies. Looking closely at artefacts and day to day life, from the health insurance cards to national monuments, and popular films to cultural habits, alongside pieces of growing nationalism and Brexit, these pieces of political reportage dive into the reality of a Europe still deeply divided.
Europe is still a divided continent. In the place of a fallen Berlin wall, there is a chasm between the East and the West. Are these differences a communist legacy, or do they run even deeper? What divides us today? To say simply that it is the understanding of the past, or a different concept of time, is not enough. But a visitor to this part of the world will soon discover that we, the Eastern Europeans, live in another time zone. We live in the twentieth century, but at the same time we inhabit a past full of myths and fairy tales, of blood and national belonging, and the fact that most people are lying and cheating or that they have the habit of blaming others for every failure...'
An intimate tour of life on the streets of Budapest, Tirana, Warsaw and Zagreb, as those cities continue to acclimatise to the post-Communist thaw, Café Europa does not provide easy solutions or furnish political pallatives. Rather as a Croatian with a viewpoint of ever-widening relevance, the value of Slavenka Drakulic's wry and humane observations lie in the emotional force of their honesty and the clarity of their insight.....