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In 1980s Yugoslavia, a young Muslim girl is married off to a man she hardly knows, but what was meant to be a happy match goes quickly wrong. Soon thereafter her country is torn apart by war, and she and her family flee. Years later her son, Bekim, grows up a social outcast in present-day Finland, not just an immigrant in a country suspicious of foreigners but a gay man in an unaccepting society. Aside from casual hookups, his only friend is a boa constrictor whom, improbably - he is terrified of snakes - he lets roam his apartment. Then, during a visit to a gay bar, Bekim meets a talking cat who moves in with him and his snake. It is this witty, charming, manipulative creature who starts Bekim on a journey back to Kosovo to confront his demons and make sense of the magical, cruel, incredible history of his family. And it is this that, in turn, enables him finally to open himself to true love - which he will find in the most unexpected place.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By David on 09-07-17
So this guy meets a talking cat in a bar and takes him home…where the cat doesn’t get along with the guy’s pet boa constrictor.
My Cat Yugoslavia was quite a book. It’s a family drama, a refugee tale, but also a fable. How is the cat like Yugoslavia? The guy—Bekim—is drawn to the cat despite the cat’s sarcasm, cruelty and sometimes violence. Is that how he thinks Yugoslavia treated him? It’s how his father sometimes treated him. But that’s another story.
Half the novel is the history of Bekim’s parents. His mother follows Kosovan/Albanian tradition in marrying a virtual stranger, then becoming a dutiful wife and mother. The family flees Kosovo for Finland (the flight episode was a highlight) to escape the Serbian war of the 1990s, and that’s where Bekim grows up.
The narrators, Edoardo Ballerini and Alison Fraser, were both excellent. Alison Fraser’s soft Kosovan accent and almost shy voice was just right. Overall, an intriguing listen.
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