Sunday, October 18, 2009

Review of the Day: Forbidden Bread

Slovenia was a toddler of a country when Erica Johnson arrived there in 1993 to marry her black-haired poet lover, Aleš Debeljak. Slovenia had only won its independence from Yugoslavia two years earlier; war still raged in Croatia and Bosnia to the south. What was she thinking?

Johnson Debeljak answers that question in Forbidden Bread, her engrossing memoir about abandoning the life of a Manhattan commercial banker to move to a nascent post-communist state where most people still grew their own cabbage and considered themselves lucky to have a tiny Soviet car to drive. She uses her own story as the backdrop for Slovenia’s story, with its tumultuous history and rich, poetry-filled culture.

From her battles with power-abusing bureaucrats, to worries about bombs falling on her wedding, to ethnic jokes and fussing in-laws, Johnson Debeljak provides layers of detail that let the reader really understand what it would be like to live in a land so foreign. This is arm-chair travel at its best – a trip to the true heart of a country.


My review was first published in the Internet Review of Books. In addition to being a terrific book, reading this one allows my to scratch it off my LibraryThing Early Reviewer list.


Library Cat

(If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.) .


  1. Oh my gosh, that is exactly the kind of book I love. It's going on my wish list!

  2. this sounds like a good book...thanks for the review. i don't read too many memoirs.

  3. I really like random memoirs about non-famous people. I like the whole slice-of-life, what-if, there-but-for-the-grace-of-God thing about them.

  4. Thank you for visiting my website. I am so far behind on posting reviews I could just lock myself in a closet!

    Here is the link for my review. I would be happy for you to add it to your list.

  5. I thought it was a cute book. I read for LT Early Reviewers as well. Nice review.


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