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Cafe Europa: Life After Communism Paperback – 10 Oct 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (10 Oct. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349107297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349107295
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 518,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Slavenka Drakulic is a writer of great sensitivity, intelligence and grace. (ALICE WALKER)

A formidable writer. (SUNDAY TIMES)

Her writing has the spare poetry of Marguerite Duras. (GUARDIAN)

Slavenka Drakulic is a journalist and writer whose voice belongs to the world. (GLORIA STEINEM)

About the Author

Slavenka Drakulic was born in Croatia in 1949, is a writer and journalist whose two novels and three non-fiction books have been translated into major European languages. She contributes to The New Republic, La Stampa, Dagens Nyheter, Frankfurter Runschau and the Observer.


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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Drakulic writes with a scientific precision: she subjects the trivial elements of daily life to an analytical intelligence to make them reveal the essence of life in post-communist Eastern and Central Europe. Her anger is palpable but her dry wit never allows the work to become a 'rant,' and her ideas are persuasive without being bludgeoning. The only essay I disagreed with was her assertion that the disparity between the state of Americans' teeth and those of Eastern Europeans was a consequence of lack of self-esteem left over from communism. I'd thought it was a consequence of American neurosis!
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By A Customer on 3 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
I would wholeheartedly recommend Draculic's book to anyone who wonders what has happened to Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of Communism almost fifteen years ago. The author writes lucidly about her own experiences of life under a communist regime, and her thoughts on the development of former Communist countries since 1989/90. Having studied History at university, I felt that perhaps the appeal of the book might be limited to like-minded people, but every friend that I have recommended it to has found it interesting and enjoyable. I read it whilst travelling through Central Europe, and it made me realise that whilst cities such as Prague, Budapest and Warsaw may now have the outward trappings of Western capitalism, this does not reflect the situation below the surface, in the attitudes of citizens, and their memories of the very recent past.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book while on holiday in modern day Croatia, chosen because the author is Croatian (although she now lives in Vienna with her Swedish husband).
It is basically a collection of essays which appear to be strangely frozen in time between the fall of Communism and the modern Croatia which I visited. It was this photograph of a country in turmoil that was its appeal.

Writing this review six months later, several things have stuck with me about the book.
Firstly, the fact that Communism did work for many people and for those above a certain age, the difficulties in adjusting to the changes were huge, both culturally and financially. No longer were they in a job for life, nor were they supported into their old age - and many did not have sufficient time ahead to earn enough for their retirement.

At the time that the book was written (1996-1999) Draculic seemed unable to envision a time when Croatia might become in any way truly Western. The title refers to the cafes that sprung up in Eastern Europe, pertaining to be like their Western counterparts but falling well short of the mark, but the Croatia that I visited in 2010 seemed to be making its mark in modern Europe. I saw few old communist style vehicles, for example, and even though I was searching for signs of the old regime, there seemed little of it left.

One or two anecdotes also stuck with me, particularly the problem of smuggling items such as vacuum cleaners across the border from Austia bacause they were either too expensive or not available back home. One vacuum cleaner absorbed the entire allowance, and that was even with a false receipt for its cost written by the seller.

I don't think I would have got as much out of the book had I read it at a different time and place but it was fascinating to realise how much the country had changed in such a relatively short space of time.
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Format: Paperback
Astonishing book! Will keep you reading long after bedtime! For the people from former Yugoslavia is perfectly understandable, also for anyone who is from Balkan, or even been there once, or willing to know tremendous charm. They can find themselfs somewhere in the pages! Autor has a great knowledge and a rare compassion, she can wrap plattitude in nice worlds, and make you laugh.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book almost all in one go, it was such a great read. It's hard to find a book that really describes what post-communist life is like in the Eastern European & Baltic regions. I've travelled several times through Eastern Europe and have sifted through many different historical books about similar themes trying to get a better understanding for what it must really be like, but none of it could bring me directly to the heart of the matter as Slavenka Drakulic's writing did.
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