Hamam Balkania: A Book Review

Hamam Balkania from Vladislav Bajac, leading contemporary Serbian author and founder of the Geopoetika publishing house, is described as one of the most exciting and poetic novels in modern Serbian literature.  Having won the Balkanika, Golden Hit and Isidora Sekulic awards and been translated into ten languages, it is rare among Serbian novels in that it is so widely available internationally.

Using powerful prose, Hamam Balkania is a meticulously structured tale of friendship and redemption, where Bajac considers linkages between issues of personal, individual and national identity in the shadow of dramatic historical events.  It also raises the question of how much faith can be placed in history as written by the victors, or even events tainted by the prejudices of our own interpretations.

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Šišanje / Skinning : A Serbian Film Worth Watching

Skinning (Srb: Šišanje) tells of high-achieving Belgrade student Novica (Nikola Rakocević), and how he falls under the spell of far right extremism to set off an horrific chain of events. From Serbian director Stevan Filipović, this is a strong film that sticks with you long after the impact of the end credits and their victims roll call.

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Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh: A Book Review

Recommending a favourite book does not always result in shared enjoyment.  One mans meat can be another mans poison. Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh has not given me such concerns.  Sharing such a great read has only received gratitude. I am not alone.  The phenomenon has been fueled by word of mouth and celebrity endorsement via Twitter, helping Gypsy Boy scale the Sunday Times bestseller list.

This biography of the early life of Romany Gypsy Mikey Walsh  not his real name – lifts the veil on a childhood growing up in a world often hidden in rumour and myth.  The moving story unfolds as Mikey introduces a host of colourful characters and descriptions of daily ducking and diving on a Gypsy camp. 

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Impressive Acting Marks Besa as Stand-Out Opener to Serbian Week in Great Britain

This week delivered an enjoyable event as part of the third annual Serbian Week in Great Britain.  I was invited to London’s Serbian Embassy for a private screening of Besa (Eng: Solemn Promise), the country’s 2011 foreign language Oscar submission.  Afterwards, it also provided an informal opportunity to discuss impressions of the film with the Serbian Ambassador to the UK.

Besa is a captivating story based on actual events set during the early days of the First World War.  Artfully paced storytelling and tender performances unveil the bonds that develop between an unlikely pair, ignited by fears and prejudice in a small Serbian town.  

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