18 June 2009

15. Forbidden Bread

Let me begin this review with thanks to LibraryThing for providing me with the opportunity to read this wonderful book. The second thing is that my lifelong dream has been to be a Slovak peasant – knowing of course, as author Erica Johnson Debeljak discovers in her book Forbidden Bread that this group doesn’t exist in Central Europe as the romanticized vision I have in my head. But when Erica first moved to Slovenia with her lover and fiancĂ©, the rural lifestyle and traditions were still common and she describes these with great detail.

When Erica Johnson met and married Slovenian poet Ales Debeljak she moved across the world to Slovenia, just as this country was swirling with national pride and development in a post-Communist world. Erica did not speak the language, did not understand the culture, and wanted desperately to please her new husband and his family. She chronicles her difficulties, challenges, and triumphs in this very funny memoir of adaptation. For anyone who has studied European history, the bureaucracy came as no surprise, but her funniest encounters with the red tape were found in her stories of being pregnant.

Debeljak supplements her stories with photos from her own collection. The reader truly gets a sense of their daily life, even over time. Like the author, I was sad with the last chapter which explains that even during her short time in Central Europe, many things had changed. The things that endeared her new country to her were obsolete, but not forgotten.

TITLE: Forbidden Bread
AUTHOR: Erica Johnson Debeljak
PAGES: 304
TYPE: non-fiction, memoir
RECOMMEND: Because I love Central Europe, I loved this book. It is hard for me to separate out these feelings to know if you would also love it.

1 comment:

Rose City Reader said...

Very good review! I really enjoyed this book. And I finally posted my review on Rose City Reader today.

If you would like me to list your review on my post, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it. I don't like to add links without asking.