The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of War

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The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of War

By Slavenka Drakulic
W. W. Norton and Company, 1993
146 pp. $19.95

After the horror of events in the former Yugoslavia conveyed nightly by television, it takes the artist to seize and shake our numbed consciousness and carry it to some deeper level of meaning. Drakulic, a very talented essayist and writer of fiction, engulfs the reader, not by assault but by the ache, drawing him or her along on the descent into bewilderment, sadness, agony and the void. "I had thought that the death of the body was the worst thing that could happen in war: I didn't know that worse was the separation of self from the body, the numbness of the inner being, extinction before death, pain before pain." She is Croat, but with no passion about her newly enforced identity, and she writes as any man, woman, Serb, Muslim or Croat. She writes about what we cannot see in the newspapers no matter how much we read: about the sickening transformation in oneself, one's neighbor, one's community.

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