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autobiography, family, coming of age, immigrants, minorities, identity, Yugoslav Wars, transition, globalisation, Europe today, European values
Balkanalije: odraščanje v času tranzicij
Balkanalia (Growing Up in Times of Transition)
Balkanalia, Growing Up in Times of Transition is an autobiographical graphic novel, a coming-of-age story set in an immigrant working class family during the bloody break-up of the author's socialist homeland of Yugoslavia into a global paradigm of transition and privatisation.
In this story, nothing is ordinary in an ordinary child’s life. The author, an artist, is a daughter of a working-class family. Her father used to be a shepherd and her mother weaved carpets. They traded their rural Bosnian, Muslim surroundings for an urban Slovenian, Catholic setting and became internal migrants in a country that celebrated working class above all. The girl’s homeland had fallen apart, yet its remains are the only solid elements of a future worth striving for. The words of the immigrant child make it obvious that she has always known that she belonged nowhere. But she did belong to people, ideas and ideals. So, home could be anywhere.
Two media, separate but whole, intrinsically joined and enriching each other. A story of horizons, war, home, principles and family, told in an original and honest voice.
MGIP International Book Award 2015
The author weaves the internal world with real events, family history with national history, realism, surrealism, symbolism, popular culture, celebrities, and various ideologies, using all this to create a bizarre collage full of unusual figures. The narration is driven by numerous intentional paradoxes, fun excesses, brutal passages, unerotic nudity and oxymora.
In Balkanalia, we are mostly faced by sepia-hued full-page illustrations complemented by brief written notes. These, however, are not merely there to illustrate the illustrations, as the illustrations don’t just illustrate the text – each medium has a voice of its own and speaks of what it’s able to. We must not forget, after all, that this is an intimate autobiography with a social focus.
Practically throughout the book, the reader encounters images of feet that have sprouted roots. Or perhaps trees that are upside down? Kentrić’s painting style is realist, however, the pictures are also touched by magic, by the world of dreams – human bodies grow wolf heads, a sheep bares its sharp, pointy teeth … Yes, Balkanalia are also a meditation on identity, on belonging, on the concept of homeland …