How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed 0393030768

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How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed

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How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed She is a writer and journalist whose voice belongs .to the world.” ■

Gloria Steinem


ISBN 0-393-03076-8





“Slavenka Drakulic is a journalist and novelist whose voice belongs to the world. If the purpose of bringing down the walls of Eastern Europe had been only to let us hear it, that would have been reason enough.” —Gloria Steinem

How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed

Slavenka Drakulic The Berlin Wall has fallen, the Iron Curtain has been torn asunder—in a geopolitical in¬ stant Marxism is erased from the blackboard of history with little pain, minor cost. A delu¬ sion, of course, as Slavenka Drakulic, a leading Yugoslavian writer from Croatia, proves in this brilliant work of reportage filtered through personal experience. A price has been paid, a toll exacted by forty-five years of Com¬ munism: People are weary in body, mind, and soul—a fatigue that will not yield easily or quickly to the balm of democracy. Among the nineteen essays in this collec¬ tion are “My First Midnight Mass,” in which the author, daughter of a high-ranking mili¬ tary officer, evokes the mystification and cyni¬ cism that religious celebration engenders in a Communist country. In “A Chat with My Censor,” we see the leash of censorship tight¬ ened in the ugliest way—with a friendly (Continued on back flap)


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(Con. mufd from front flap)

smile. And in the title essay, “How We Sur¬ vived Communism,” she answers simply: by not trusting it. With humor and irony, Slavenka Drakulic writes searingly and incisively about everyday life in the surreal, Marxist world of the “Other Europe.” This is literary journalism of a very high order. Slavenka Drakulic is a respected journalist

and cultural commentator in Yugoslavia. She is a regular contributor to the Nation and the New Republic and is a columnist for the maga¬ zine Danas in Zagreb. She was a founding member of the executive committee of the first network of Eastern European women’s groups, is on the advisory boards of the Fourth International Interdisciplinary Con¬ gress of Women and Ms. magazine, and has received a Fulbright Fellowship for writers. How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed is Drakulic’s first nonfiction book to be pub¬ lished in English. Norton is publishing her debut novel, Holograms of Fear, in May.


photograph by Ivan Posavec

Printed in the United States of America

“Slavenka Drakulic has been called the Simone de Beauvoir of East¬ ern Europe, and this hook is testament to why. As a feminist, freespeaker, political theorist and activist, and just plain good writer, hers is that rare voice to hearken to—and trust.” —Robin Morgan

“How We Survived Communism is not only the first ever grassroots

feminist critique of communism, it’s one of our first glimpses into real peoples’ lives in prerevolutionary Eastern Europe. My world is twice as large as it was before I read this book, and one of the most exciting people in it is Slavenka Drakulic. She is brave, funny, wise and a wonderfully gifted writer.”

—Barbara Ehrenreich

“In these brief, incisive sketches of people and problems she has known, Slavenka Drakulic gives us the inside story on ordinary life under Communism and the methods bv which it was overcome. J She’s particularly vivid in explaining the sensibilities of Eastern European women, and the actually existing conditions which have formed them. But she is a savvy analyst of the mundane in all its guises, who knows that daily glitches w ere the clue to Communism’s epochal flaws. This is a lively, sane and informative book.” —Eva Hoffman “An invaluable account of the cumulative weariness of the soul brought on by daily life in an Eastern European country.” —Vivian Gornick “We have been bombarded with the evils of Communism, but have so far been spared the details of what it meant to be women endur¬ ing that regime. That neither sanitary napkins nor tampons were available is a clue. The author knows how simultaneously to amuse j

and horrify. Her touch is light, her probe deep.” —Carolyn Heilbrun