“Nothing has remained of those times,” writes Daša Drndić in the final pages of her last book about the generation that built the postwar Yugoslavia and who then lived to see it fall apart in civil wars. EEG is narrated by Drndić’s literary alias Andreas Ban, known to the readers from Belladonna, but Ban’s father Rudolf has much in common with Ljubo Drndić, Istrian anti-fascist resistance leader and a prominent figure of the liberal wing of the Yugoslav communist government after the war. In EEG, we learn of Rudolf’s last days: in an old people’s home, in poverty, alone. Drndić mockingly spoke of the contemporary English-language fictional pursuit of “well-rounded characters” and “well-told stories,” but Rudolf is a beautifully rendered character and the most sympathetic one of the Belladonna/EEG diptych. The society that he helped build has gone, and he is on his way, too. Likewise, when those of us born before the 1980s die off, so will the living memory of a unique society — the experiment in equality and fraternity (but only sometimes liberty) that was Yugoslavia. []

When we were brothers: an essay on Daša Drndić | Los Angeles Review of Books | April 2019