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Croatian journalist Slavenka Drakulić’s latest book, A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism, is coming out in February. Drakulić speaks with Katha Pollitt from The Nation about her new book, Europe after the “velvet revolution,” and the problems and disappointments eastern Europeans face today.
A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism: Fables from a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, and a Raven is a biting and brilliant critique of communism delivered by an array of unlikely characters: a mouse in Prague, a parrot from the former Yugoslavia, a Bulgarian bear, a cat in Warsaw, a mole from East Germany, a Hungarian pig, a dog in Bucharest, and an Albanian raven. These astute animals offer the readers their stories of life under the communist regimes and those that came after. These sharp-witted observers wonder whether the turn to democracy and capitalism was a change for the better and ask big questions: Has the idea of social justice been lost forever? What are we to do with our past?
Slavenka Drakulić was born in Croatia in 1949. Her nonfiction books include How We Survived Communismand Even Laughed, a feminist critique of communism that brought her to the attention of the Western public; The Balkan Express: Fragments from the Other Side of the War, an eyewitness account of the war in her homeland; Café Europa: Life After Communism; and They Would Never Hurt a Fly. Drakulić is also the author of the novels Holograms of Fear, which was a bestseller in Yugoslavia and was short-listed for The Best Foreign Book Award by the Independent (UK); Marble Skin; The Taste of a Man; and S., which was made into a major motion picture under the title As If I Am Not There.
Katha Pollitt has been contributing to The Nation since 1980; she has also written essays and book reviews for the New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Harper’s, Ms., Glamour, Mother Jones, the New York Times, and the London Review of Books. Pollitt has appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air and All Things Considered, Charlie Rose, The McLaughlin Group, CNN, Dateline NBC, and the BBC. Pollitt has received numerous awards, including National Magazine Awards for Columns and Commentary and Essays and Criticism, a Whiting Foundation Writing Award, and the Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She is the author of two books of poetry and several collections of essays, including Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism; Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture; Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time; and Learning to Drive and Other Life Stories.