What Mary Read

My name is Mary, and my reading specialty is starting as many books as possible and having a tower not only on my bedside table, but also on the floor beside my side of the bed.

I got this book for myself for Christmas. I had seen Sofija at the Sydney Writers Festival in May, on a panel about borders and displacement. This book had been on my list since then.

It was a fabulous read. I learnt so much about the area that was Yugoslavia. Having lived through this era, on the other side of the world, and as a privileged 4th generation Australian, I really had no idea what was going on there.

Sofija moved to Australia with her family in the 80’s, abruptly moved back again before the wars of the early 90’s, and then, as they had citizenship here back they came during the unrest before the war.

I laughed, learnt and sobbed reading this book. I think being a parent sometimes puts me right into the story, more than being a daughter. Sofija has to deal with some things that you would never wish on a child. She also has a great way with words.

Our suburb is full of people who came out from the Balkans, both as immigrants and as refugees. We have a little cafe that turns into a Small Bar and nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights. Club Rakia brings a bit of the Balkans night life straight to our high street, and it is fabulous. When I go there with A we people watch and drink beer. I think that Sofiya might feel a little bit at home, with the mad Balkan disco going off down the back, and the different people coming through the front door like they own the place. In a way they do.

If, like me, you lived through this tumultuous era without much idea of what was going on “Miss Ex Yugoslavia” might give you an idea of how this effected the then-Yugoslavians at home, and in their diaspora. The name itself comes from a beauty pageants that Sofija entered. Read it to find out more!

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