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“Sofija Stefanovic’s beautiful memoir Miss Ex-Yugoslavia depicts the elegant transit of a girl becoming an artist. This is a story we yearn to know: How does a girl lose her childhood, family, and nation, yet nurture her memories, dreams, and art? Stefanovic hits all her marks, and she keeps us in her thrall.” —Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, a New York Times bestseller a “Sofija Stefanovic’s beautiful memoir Miss Ex-Yugoslavia depicts the elegant transit of a girl becoming an artist. This is a story we yearn to know: How does a girl lose her childhood, family, and nation, yet nurture her memories, dreams, and art? Stefanovic hits all her marks, and she keeps us in her thrall.” —Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist “Funny and tragic and beautiful in all the right places. I loved it.” —Jenny Lawson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy A funny, dark, and tender memoir about the immigrant experience and life as a perpetual fish-out-of-water, from the acclaimed Serbian-Australian storyteller. Sofija Stefanovic makes the first of many awkward entrances in 1982, when she is born in Belgrade, the capital of socialist Yugoslavia. The circumstances of her birth (a blackout, gasoline shortages, bickering parents) don’t exactly get her off to a running start. While around her, ethnic tensions are stoked by totalitarian leaders with violent agendas, Stefanovic's early life is filled with Yugo rock, inadvisable crushes, and the quirky ups and downs of life in a socialist state. As the political situation grows more dire, the Stefanovics travel back and forth between faraway, peaceful Australia, where they can’t seem to fit in, and their turbulent homeland, which they can’t seem to shake. Meanwhile, Yugoslavia collapses into the bloodiest European conflict in recent history. Featuring warlords and beauty queens, tiger cubs and Baby-Sitters Clubs, Sofija Stefanovic’s memoir is a window to a complicated culture that she both cherishes and resents. Revealing war and immigration from the crucial viewpoint of women and children, Stefanovic chronicles her own coming-of-age, both as a woman and as an artist who yearns to take control of her own story. Refreshingly candid, poignant, and illuminating, Miss Ex-Yugoslavia introduces a vital new voice to the immigrant narrative.


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“Sofija Stefanovic’s beautiful memoir Miss Ex-Yugoslavia depicts the elegant transit of a girl becoming an artist. This is a story we yearn to know: How does a girl lose her childhood, family, and nation, yet nurture her memories, dreams, and art? Stefanovic hits all her marks, and she keeps us in her thrall.” —Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, a New York Times bestseller a “Sofija Stefanovic’s beautiful memoir Miss Ex-Yugoslavia depicts the elegant transit of a girl becoming an artist. This is a story we yearn to know: How does a girl lose her childhood, family, and nation, yet nurture her memories, dreams, and art? Stefanovic hits all her marks, and she keeps us in her thrall.” —Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist “Funny and tragic and beautiful in all the right places. I loved it.” —Jenny Lawson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy A funny, dark, and tender memoir about the immigrant experience and life as a perpetual fish-out-of-water, from the acclaimed Serbian-Australian storyteller. Sofija Stefanovic makes the first of many awkward entrances in 1982, when she is born in Belgrade, the capital of socialist Yugoslavia. The circumstances of her birth (a blackout, gasoline shortages, bickering parents) don’t exactly get her off to a running start. While around her, ethnic tensions are stoked by totalitarian leaders with violent agendas, Stefanovic's early life is filled with Yugo rock, inadvisable crushes, and the quirky ups and downs of life in a socialist state. As the political situation grows more dire, the Stefanovics travel back and forth between faraway, peaceful Australia, where they can’t seem to fit in, and their turbulent homeland, which they can’t seem to shake. Meanwhile, Yugoslavia collapses into the bloodiest European conflict in recent history. Featuring warlords and beauty queens, tiger cubs and Baby-Sitters Clubs, Sofija Stefanovic’s memoir is a window to a complicated culture that she both cherishes and resents. Revealing war and immigration from the crucial viewpoint of women and children, Stefanovic chronicles her own coming-of-age, both as a woman and as an artist who yearns to take control of her own story. Refreshingly candid, poignant, and illuminating, Miss Ex-Yugoslavia introduces a vital new voice to the immigrant narrative.

30 review for Miss Ex-Yugoslavia: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    No review. DNF Reached page 80. Too many good books to read and this isn't one of them. It's not only her writing ability which is far, far from honed. She jumps willy nilly and is also redundant. But more than that it is her "eyes". She is young and has some interesting views and juxtapositions in her path, backwards and in the future. But she seems to place herself in the constant center of the world spotlight. And calls more and more attention to herself by continual use of self-deprecation in No review. DNF Reached page 80. Too many good books to read and this isn't one of them. It's not only her writing ability which is far, far from honed. She jumps willy nilly and is also redundant. But more than that it is her "eyes". She is young and has some interesting views and juxtapositions in her path, backwards and in the future. But she seems to place herself in the constant center of the world spotlight. And calls more and more attention to herself by continual use of self-deprecation in her self-awareness. Which most likely are meant in vice-versa diva purposes to become the focus? Regardless- this should have been made into an more edited and logically readable form. It's juvenile fare?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    The book with a beauty contest where the contestants represent their "new" nations born out of the old Yugoslavia. The author, who is a contestant, then goes about telling of her story of coming to Australia intermingled with the dreadful Balkan wars of the 1990s and growing up as a migrant in Melbourne, The author is quite self critical, has some quirky ways of looking at her life and her childhood reminisces are painfully real. This is not a great book but does give a new and fresh way of looki The book with a beauty contest where the contestants represent their "new" nations born out of the old Yugoslavia. The author, who is a contestant, then goes about telling of her story of coming to Australia intermingled with the dreadful Balkan wars of the 1990s and growing up as a migrant in Melbourne, The author is quite self critical, has some quirky ways of looking at her life and her childhood reminisces are painfully real. This is not a great book but does give a new and fresh way of looking at the confusion of the Balkans.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jennie Shaw

    Hilarious and heartfelt, I'm now a major fan of Sofija Stefanovic. I started reading in a waiting room and was forced to stifle bubbling laughter more than once. Oh the voice!! But with the humour is a depiction of what it's like to feel displaced, floating between two homes and unsure which one is actually "home." Escaping war may seem simple in a physical sense if one can leave the country, but emotionally, how can one go on living while friends and family suffer? The way Stefanovic examines t Hilarious and heartfelt, I'm now a major fan of Sofija Stefanovic. I started reading in a waiting room and was forced to stifle bubbling laughter more than once. Oh the voice!! But with the humour is a depiction of what it's like to feel displaced, floating between two homes and unsure which one is actually "home." Escaping war may seem simple in a physical sense if one can leave the country, but emotionally, how can one go on living while friends and family suffer? The way Stefanovic examines that concept made me feel contemplative, and I think it's because at first, she sucked me in with her humorous childhood accounts. She got on my level, I suppose, and I now know more about the war in Belgrade and socialist Yugoslavia than I ever learned from the news. Five stars all the way for this compassionate, spirited, and introspective work of non-fiction. Big thanks to Atria books for an ARC!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Keen

    2.5 Stars! Without doubt Stefanovic shows signs of being an eloquent enough writer in places, and this has some nicely turned passages and well-turned phrases here and there, but there is something not quite right about this. The excessive attempts at self-deprecation end up lapsing into almost outright narcissism. Either way it is just another form of self-obsession. There is much talk of loss and coming to terms with various ongoing changes, some vast and devastating. She recounts much of this w 2.5 Stars! Without doubt Stefanovic shows signs of being an eloquent enough writer in places, and this has some nicely turned passages and well-turned phrases here and there, but there is something not quite right about this. The excessive attempts at self-deprecation end up lapsing into almost outright narcissism. Either way it is just another form of self-obsession. There is much talk of loss and coming to terms with various ongoing changes, some vast and devastating. She recounts much of this with insight and sensitivity. Some of the historical detail relating to the emergence of Milosevic in Serbia and the slow, creeping horror of war encroaching upon their lives is eerie and makes for compelling reading. Some of the details relating to the victims are particularly gruesome. She complains a lot about the privilege of others, but yet this girl clearly came from a wealthy background, her mother is a psychologist, who did work on national TV, her dad was an engineer, and they also managed to raise the incredibly expensive cost of multiple airfares to Australia back in the 80s and this was whilst living in a communist country too. One of her aunts is a gastroenterologist, another works in TV. She has a relative who owns property in Paris (which the author jets off to) and a relative announces when arriving in Australia that she has now been on every continent in the world apart from Africa. If this isn’t privilege then I am not sure what is?...They clearly worked very hard to acquire their status, but nevertheless, she and her family were bourgeois, economic migrants, not refugees. She and her family obviously suffered great loss, but nowhere near to what those who weren’t as privileged as she and her family were. So this was a peculiar memoir, there were some memorable and enjoyable moments but for me far too often there was a cold, detached, self-obsessed, middle-class snobbery that came through and made it really difficult to embrace and enjoy as much as I would like to have. I just found the author too hard to warm to.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zora

    It is impossible for me as someone who grew up in Australia thinking of myself as ‘Yugo’ to not be interested in this engaging memoir - but I reckon it has wider appeal. Funny, but not cheesy (unlike some others in the genre); thoughtful, if not quite profound, this memoir took us from the author’s childhood in Belgrade during that odd period of time between Tito’s death and the resurgence of nationalism that ultimately led to the Balkan Wars through to her early adulthood in Melbourne in the ea It is impossible for me as someone who grew up in Australia thinking of myself as ‘Yugo’ to not be interested in this engaging memoir - but I reckon it has wider appeal. Funny, but not cheesy (unlike some others in the genre); thoughtful, if not quite profound, this memoir took us from the author’s childhood in Belgrade during that odd period of time between Tito’s death and the resurgence of nationalism that ultimately led to the Balkan Wars through to her early adulthood in Melbourne in the early 21st century. Sometimes her approach strained credibility (because she could not possibly remember x, y and z as recounted) and some readers may find the mix of micro and macro distracting but for me I really appreciated this compelling account of how a young life is shaped by war and migration. Further, as a second generation ‘Yugo’ who denounced that identity during the wars of the 1990s I am so glad this book exists.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ilonka

    Thoroughly enjoyed the book! Not only because I’m an ex-Yugoslav, but because it is well written, with empathy and humor! Love the humor in translating our idioms, such as “my butt hurts.” 😄 Beautiful story of growing up between two countries and trying to find a sense of belonging somewhere. In the end, I believe we are just citizens of this crazy earth.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I came across this interesting memoir via Non-Fiction November, when I read the review at What’s Non Fiction. Sofija Stefanovic is based in New York, but like me, she’s an Australian with roots elsewhere. She was born in what was Yugoslavia and is now Serbia, and migrated to Australia to escape the growing instability in the 1980s. Her father loved it here, but her mother missed home, so (having prudently acquired Australian citizenship first) they went back, only to find that things were worse I came across this interesting memoir via Non-Fiction November, when I read the review at What’s Non Fiction. Sofija Stefanovic is based in New York, but like me, she’s an Australian with roots elsewhere. She was born in what was Yugoslavia and is now Serbia, and migrated to Australia to escape the growing instability in the 1980s. Her father loved it here, but her mother missed home, so (having prudently acquired Australian citizenship first) they went back, only to find that things were worse than before. And so they returned, to join the community of Yugoslavs in Melbourne, whose numbers were by then swollen by refugees fleeing the violence. To deflect any sense that this is another misery memoir of discrimination and not belonging, Stefanovic begins with a droll chapter about a beauty pageant that she has organised. The competitors are all from the now separate countries that used to be Yugoslavia: The idea of a beauty pageant freaks me out, and ex-Yugoslavia as a country itself is an oxymoron — but the combination of the two makes the deliciously weird Miss Ex-Yugoslavia competition the ideal subject for my documentary film-making class. (p. ix) She is herself a competitor, but she is struggling with the ‘look’. It’s 2005, I’m twenty-two, and I’ve been living in Australia for most of my life. I’m at Joy, an empty Melbourne nightclub that smells of stale smoke and is located above a fruit and vegetable market. I open the door to the dressing room, and when my eyes adjust to the fluorescent lights I see that young women are rubbing olive oil on each other’s thighs. Apparently, this is a trick used in ‘real’ competitions, one we’ve hijacked for our amateur version. For weeks I’ve been preparing myself to stand almost naked in front of everyone I know, and the day of the big reveal has come around quickly. As I scan the shiny bodies for my friend Nina, I’m dismayed to see that all the other girls have dead-straight hair, while mine, thanks to an overzealous hairdresser with a curling wand, looks like a wig made of sausages. ‘Dodi, lutko,’ Nina says as she emerges from the crowd of girls. Come here, doll. ‘Maybe we can straighten it.’ She brings her hand up to my hair cautiously, as if petting a startled lamb. Nina is a Bosnian refugee in a miniskirt. As a contestant she is technically my competitor, but we’ve become close in the rehearsals leading up to the pageant. Under Nina’s tentative pets, the hair doesn’t give. It’s been sprayed to stay like this, possibly forever. (p. viii) This jaunty style is maintained throughout the book, transitioning into a more serious tone only when the author explains the political chaos that was the catalyst for her family’s migrations, or when there is personal tragedy. The story covers her childhood, teenage years and early adult years, adjusting to the differences between a crumbling soviet society and a liberal democracy. To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/12/07/m...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ivana

    If I could, I'd give this book ten stars. As I read, I felt that the author had somehow broken inside my own head and managed to succinctly put into a book a lifetime of words that simmer inside of me. There are nuanced references that I believe only those of us who are born and lived in the Balkans can understand, and I felt an intimate camaraderie with her, shaking my head or nodding in approval, feeling what she's writing about on my own skin. So many parallels.... Thank you for writing this b If I could, I'd give this book ten stars. As I read, I felt that the author had somehow broken inside my own head and managed to succinctly put into a book a lifetime of words that simmer inside of me. There are nuanced references that I believe only those of us who are born and lived in the Balkans can understand, and I felt an intimate camaraderie with her, shaking my head or nodding in approval, feeling what she's writing about on my own skin. So many parallels.... Thank you for writing this book for our lost generation, homeless forever, out of place in the west, out of place in the east, and forever searching for our identities...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sonia Nair

    I love Sofija Stefanovic's voice – funny and wry yet sincere and searching, her book charting the travails of moving across seas not once but twice, losing a parent at a relatively young age, and resonating with the politics of a country far removed from one's own was both illuminating and greatly entertaining. I love Sofija Stefanovic's voice – funny and wry yet sincere and searching, her book charting the travails of moving across seas not once but twice, losing a parent at a relatively young age, and resonating with the politics of a country far removed from one's own was both illuminating and greatly entertaining.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aggie

    Being Croatian, I had to laugh at the similar parenting styles of Serbians and Croatians. Interspersed between the humor was the horror of the Yugoslav war and its effect on the people. Very touching and honest book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ena

    have never before experienced being able to identify with someone else's story in such specific ways. this memoir will stick with me for a long time. plus it was frequently hilarious. have never before experienced being able to identify with someone else's story in such specific ways. this memoir will stick with me for a long time. plus it was frequently hilarious.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sonal

    An interesting memoir of a Serbian family who moved to Australia to escape the Yugoslav wars. With other war-ridden and serious books on the subject, this was surely a light & cheerful way to know more about the Balkans. The author openly speaks about her life and the struggles as an immigrant child. Various political discussions in the book give an overview of the political situation during the war. This was one of my pre-travel reads on Serbia and incidentally, I met a Serbian origin Australian An interesting memoir of a Serbian family who moved to Australia to escape the Yugoslav wars. With other war-ridden and serious books on the subject, this was surely a light & cheerful way to know more about the Balkans. The author openly speaks about her life and the struggles as an immigrant child. Various political discussions in the book give an overview of the political situation during the war. This was one of my pre-travel reads on Serbia and incidentally, I met a Serbian origin Australian on my trip. He believed that almost 1/3rd of the Yugoslavia population migrated to US, Australia, and other countries during the war. This book made more sense than ever. It is not the story of one family but thousands similar. It's not that difficult to move out of the country but the fear & anxiety of leaving one's own country, family and friends behind to suffer. Kudos to the author for putting her life on pages. An honest book it seems. The writing style is more on a casual side which makes it easy and quick to read and understand. An interesting read for sure!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Abeer Hoque

    “My dad had helped me build a snowman (whose breasts I’d carefulyl molded, eager to show that not all snowmen were men).” Miss Ex-Yugoslavia is Sofija Stefanovic’s wry and thoughtful memoir about growing up across Serbian and Australian cultures, while the country of her birth, Yugoslavia, slowly and brutally disintegrates. Somehow, despite impending (and then catastrophic) war, street protests, school bullying, parents in constant argument, devastating illness, culture shock, language woes, and “My dad had helped me build a snowman (whose breasts I’d carefulyl molded, eager to show that not all snowmen were men).” Miss Ex-Yugoslavia is Sofija Stefanovic’s wry and thoughtful memoir about growing up across Serbian and Australian cultures, while the country of her birth, Yugoslavia, slowly and brutally disintegrates. Somehow, despite impending (and then catastrophic) war, street protests, school bullying, parents in constant argument, devastating illness, culture shock, language woes, and more, Stefanovic manages wit and charm in abundance. She’s a introverted anxious child, always watching and internalizing, yet she still craves the limelight, and of course, to feel safe. When the Bosnian War officially ended in 1995, there were over 100,000 dead and over 2 million displaced, with residents of former Yugoslav regions flung all over the world. Stefanovic explores the idea of inherited trauma and her take is compelling: “War doesn’t actually end when a date is stamped on it for the textbooks, when the headlines are printed, when the newscasters announce it. After the tanks roll out and the bodies are buried, those that are left alive are left with nightmares, anxiety, twitches, and fear that is passed on to their children.” I found Stefanovic’s mother to be one of the most powerful characters, a profane, chain-smoking, anti-nationalist professor and child psychologist in Belgrade whose house is filled with intellectuals and artists discussing everything under the sun. In Australia, she is stifled and lonely, a stay at home mom, relegated to watching her beloved country implode on television. Her brusque matter of fact laissez faire yet intense parenting leads to some of the funnier scenes in the book. Perhaps they sometimes resulted in semi-traumatic overly adult understanding for young Stefanovic, but also led to lovely revelations such as this one: “I loved the idea of someone not being bound by one gender; it seemed transcendent and divine.” I loved the instances of translated Serbian phrases, words, and proverbs, and the details of city and family life in Belgrade in the 80s. It’s these kinds of interludes that take a universal fish out of water story and make it particular and present. They make you realise that someone who might be quite like you can engender this resonance even when coming from a very different place. There’s a truism in Bangladesh about how you need 3 people to form a political party: two to join forces, and 1 to split off into another faction. There’s apparently a similar Serbian sentiment about two Serbs having three opinions. We’re the same all over the world. I read Miss Ex-Yugoslavia in a couple of days - it’s breezy and warm and winning, despite its often heavy hearted subject. Stefanovic is a born storyteller and it’s apparent from her memoir how she got there. Because I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her tell her stories on stage and in person, I would recommend the audio book if that’s your thing - she reads it herself. Either way, I look forward to more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lexy

    Is anyone surprised that I absolutely loved this book? No, I didn't think so. My auntie bought this book for my birthday and posted it all the way to London - she's a pro at picking books for me! Sofija is a hilarious and engaging author - what I love most is how observant she is, noting tiny details about people, places and events, and recapping her crazy imaginings as a child. We all had them, but how often do you think about them? Sofija's description of her childhood very much reminded me of Is anyone surprised that I absolutely loved this book? No, I didn't think so. My auntie bought this book for my birthday and posted it all the way to London - she's a pro at picking books for me! Sofija is a hilarious and engaging author - what I love most is how observant she is, noting tiny details about people, places and events, and recapping her crazy imaginings as a child. We all had them, but how often do you think about them? Sofija's description of her childhood very much reminded me of my own - we were both pretty weird kids, and hardcore devotees of the Babysitters' Club! The similarity does end at one point though. Whilst little Sofija and I could easily have been best friends, I think I would have been terrified of grungy, alternative teenage Sofija. Sofija's story puts a face and a context to the conflict in Yugoslavia, which is so important given that most people have gotten their information from bland (and often biased) news reports and articles. She provides basic general information about the political situation, and then talks about how it impacted her life, her family and her community both in Australia and in Serbia. I think it's a perfect intro for non-Yugos who don't know much about what happened in the Balkans during the 90s. It really humanises the war. Being Serbian and the child of immigrants myself, so much of what she says resonated deeply with me, especially when she talks about never QUITE feeling like you belong in either place, and when she goes back to visit Belgrade but finds that the reality doesn't match up to her idea and memories of the place. I can't say that I can relate to all of her experiences, since I never actually lived in Serbia or went to school there, and her family life was markedly different from my own in several significant ways, but overall she does a great job of capturing the immigrant experience, the effects of the war, and the spirit of the Yugo diaspora in Australia and she does it with humour and outrageous stories which made me burst out laughing on several occasions. I'd recommend this book to both Yugos and non-Yugos as I think everyone can take something valuable from it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Teller

    I don't normally read memoirs, but I received this book as a gift, and I'm glad to have read it. The author has not led a life (so far) that one might expect from a memoirist... She has done nothing world-altering, shocking or transformational, and she is not an international expert or celebrity. She hasn't even lived very long yet (at least not by my standard!). Yet the insights she offers into the Yugoslavian diaspora and wars in the former Yugoslavia are fresh and interesting. I tried to foll I don't normally read memoirs, but I received this book as a gift, and I'm glad to have read it. The author has not led a life (so far) that one might expect from a memoirist... She has done nothing world-altering, shocking or transformational, and she is not an international expert or celebrity. She hasn't even lived very long yet (at least not by my standard!). Yet the insights she offers into the Yugoslavian diaspora and wars in the former Yugoslavia are fresh and interesting. I tried to follow the conflicts in the region back in the 1990s, but without an understanding of the culture(s) to anchor me, I was often bewildered. Ms. Stefanovic offers the anchor of her personal perspective, and the pieces of history finally fell into place for me; it was like having a friend say, "Let me tell you about my people." I also appreciated the way she captures the misapprehensions and naive self-centeredness of childhood. There were moments so raw and confessional that I wanted to turn away in embarrassment, but I also recognized bits of my own childhood in her stories. The book is bravely written and well worth a read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. Sofija is excellent at describing the way her young self thought and rationalized (even if it didn't make sense) which I can completely relate to. It's funny and sad and completely encompasses the feeling of finding yourself in surrounding and trying to feel acceptance while also staying true to who you are and where you come from. This is one I'm going to be giving to people as gifts because everyone needs to hear her story and the stor This is absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. Sofija is excellent at describing the way her young self thought and rationalized (even if it didn't make sense) which I can completely relate to. It's funny and sad and completely encompasses the feeling of finding yourself in surrounding and trying to feel acceptance while also staying true to who you are and where you come from. This is one I'm going to be giving to people as gifts because everyone needs to hear her story and the story of the wars in Yugoslavia and what may differ from what people seem to know from what the news showed. Anyone who cares about perspectives and learning different points of views should 100% read this book. Not to mention Sofija is crafty with her humor and strong in her writing to make you cry. I felt that I was with her in Belgrade and in the Melbourne suburbs. READ THIS and share the story. And Payton Turner (co-founder of Girls at Library) did the awesome cover art for the US edition.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ozen

    I don't know what to make of this book. It's too self-deprecating, it’s not even funny. How would you feel yourself in the company of someone who constantly refers to herself as a failure, weirdo, sobbing weirdo, hideous, ugly, stupid, silly, like a cockroach, with brushy hair, and so on? I'm not sure what she wants to accomplish by sharing her story (at times painfully TMI), and more importantly, what the story even is. This surely is not a memoir in which you'd normally find a story, a message I don't know what to make of this book. It's too self-deprecating, it’s not even funny. How would you feel yourself in the company of someone who constantly refers to herself as a failure, weirdo, sobbing weirdo, hideous, ugly, stupid, silly, like a cockroach, with brushy hair, and so on? I'm not sure what she wants to accomplish by sharing her story (at times painfully TMI), and more importantly, what the story even is. This surely is not a memoir in which you'd normally find a story, a message, an angle, or a hook. (If it was intended to be a memoir, she lost me when she described what she did as a baby as if she "remembered" it.) Instead, this one reads like random ramblings from someone's diary, put in a chronological order. There’s no common theme or linear progression toward a goal, or a unifying thread, other than mere passage of time. I didn't want to say any of these, and, up until the end, I really wanted to like the book, perhaps out of solidarity with the author, a fellow immigrant from the same part of the world as I am. But, unfortunately, nothing came out of it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Teodora

    I loved this book! It resonated deeply with me and my experiences. I found it at the libary, and being Serbian myself (while living and growing up in America), I was able to identify with many of the themes in this book. While Sofija was born in Serbia, and has memories of growing up there and having to learn English as a second language, I grew up having English as my first language, even though I wasn't born here either (I came young enough). She is much older than I am, and lived during the tu I loved this book! It resonated deeply with me and my experiences. I found it at the libary, and being Serbian myself (while living and growing up in America), I was able to identify with many of the themes in this book. While Sofija was born in Serbia, and has memories of growing up there and having to learn English as a second language, I grew up having English as my first language, even though I wasn't born here either (I came young enough). She is much older than I am, and lived during the turbulent times and through the Balkan Wars. I can only view them from a historical point, as they occured a little before I was born. Despite that, they have affected my life in many ways (for without them, it's doubtful that my family would now live in America, which I'm incredibly grateful for). Growing up, Sofija visited Serbia only twice, while I spend every summer in Serbia, getting in touch with my roots. We grew up in different times and on different parts of the globe (Australia and NYC) but still, I was able to connect deeply to much of what she described.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bri Lee

    I've just finished Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic ahead of the event I'll be running with her when she comes to Brisbane in May. (For full disclosure: I've know Sofija for a few years now and consider her a friend.) This book is such a wonderful work of memoir--a strong example of how a life is formed by many small moments that gain significance when examined and written well. Sofija grew up in a country that would soon no longer exist and this is a coming-of-age story plus migrant stor I've just finished Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofija Stefanovic ahead of the event I'll be running with her when she comes to Brisbane in May. (For full disclosure: I've know Sofija for a few years now and consider her a friend.) This book is such a wonderful work of memoir--a strong example of how a life is formed by many small moments that gain significance when examined and written well. Sofija grew up in a country that would soon no longer exist and this is a coming-of-age story plus migrant story plus examination of modern political history. There are so many heartbreaking, touching moments with her parents in particular--one of whom adjusts to the move to Australia much better than the other. The book is a portrait of a life with a foot in each place, and of a child struggling to define themselves as not only distinct from her parents but also national identity. The final few chapters are the strongest.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kolumbina

    An interesting memoir about Serbian familly who migrated to Australia a couple of years before the last war in Yugoslavia. In her very sincere story Sofia wrote very openly about the war in ex Yugoslavia, about her family's first days in Australia, adjustments to new schools, language, her sister Natalija (born in Australia ), her overweight mother, her father's illness and the family's bohemian style of life after her father's death. In a way an easy read, hilarious, almost a mocking style of wr An interesting memoir about Serbian familly who migrated to Australia a couple of years before the last war in Yugoslavia. In her very sincere story Sofia wrote very openly about the war in ex Yugoslavia, about her family's first days in Australia, adjustments to new schools, language, her sister Natalija (born in Australia ), her overweight mother, her father's illness and the family's bohemian style of life after her father's death. In a way an easy read, hilarious, almost a mocking style of writing....

  21. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Author Interview, at NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/bo... NYT: Persuade someone to read “Miss Ex-Yugoslavia” in 50 words or less. SS: It’s the story of an oversensitive immigrant kid whose family moved from socialist Belgrade to Australia, and who had a hard time fitting in forevermore. If you’ve felt like a fish out of water, you’ll identify, and I hope it will make readers laugh and feel compassion for immigrant stories. Author Interview, at NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/06/bo... NYT: Persuade someone to read “Miss Ex-Yugoslavia” in 50 words or less. SS: It’s the story of an oversensitive immigrant kid whose family moved from socialist Belgrade to Australia, and who had a hard time fitting in forevermore. If you’ve felt like a fish out of water, you’ll identify, and I hope it will make readers laugh and feel compassion for immigrant stories.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anjelika

    Enjoyed reading Sofija’s memoir peppered with historical references and anecdotes from Yugoslavia. As a third-culture kid, I could relate to many of the same feelings and experiences that Sofija describes, especially in her search for ‘home.’ And the book incorporates a good sense humor that made me laugh out loud. Thank you for being vulnerable and authentic in sharing your story!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alyce

    Captivating, tragic, sad, funny, engrossing, thoughtful, insightful, informative...fabulous. The author finds rich material in her family's timely move to Australia from an increasingly turbulent Yugoslavia. Homesick, they move back to Belgrade, only to return to Australia when the conflict is too dangerous to ignore. I could not put this memoir down. Captivating, tragic, sad, funny, engrossing, thoughtful, insightful, informative...fabulous. The author finds rich material in her family's timely move to Australia from an increasingly turbulent Yugoslavia. Homesick, they move back to Belgrade, only to return to Australia when the conflict is too dangerous to ignore. I could not put this memoir down.

  24. 5 out of 5

    kaylin

    I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is so smart and funny, I don’t remember the last time I (actually) laughed so much reading a book. I am embarrassed to say I don’t know that much about the Balkan conflicts to begin with, and it was invaluable to see this time period through a lens other than that of the the 1990s American media/govt.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martin Young

    Insightful, hilarious and deeply moving. I feel like I learned more about the Balkans wars in this book than from watching UK news coverage at the time. A wonderful memoir with all the highs and lows of life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jones

    This was a heartbreakingly beautiful way to learn more about where I come from. Sofija perfectly captures feelings I saw in my family and friends growing up, and the sense of 'being from nowhere' that I still feel. This was a heartbreakingly beautiful way to learn more about where I come from. Sofija perfectly captures feelings I saw in my family and friends growing up, and the sense of 'being from nowhere' that I still feel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    JanieH

    A heartwarming and memorable memoir.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jelena Stojanovic

    Totally amazing and worth reading. I loved every minute of this book, i cried and i laughed like an idiot. Thank you Sofija for an awsome book and i hope to read more of your stories.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zeta Koutsandrea

    This is an immigration story, a coming of age story, a political story or... just a great story!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susanna Smith

    Laughed, cried and totally related. Thank you for opening your heart to write this book Sofija.

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