Zagreb, Exit South

ISBN: 1932010092
ISBN 13: 9781932010091
By: Edo Popović Julienne Bušić

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About this book

""Zagreb, Exit South" is a deep, melancholy book about the resignation of the 40 year old, about people who have given up on life, who can only exist on the street or in bars because they fear and dread going home to their high-rise caverns in New Zagreb where the rules of an allegedly organized world reign. But Popovic's characters have no patience with the lies of this world. They have no patience because they have neither homes nor a homeland: they have lost all their illusions. Popovic is simply the epitome of the urban writer. . . . The best narrator of his generation has achieved literary maturity and that is great news.'-Slobodan Novak "Zagreb, Exit South" masterfully illuminates the lives of diverse, colorful characters adrift in postwar Croatia. Through bleary, middle-aged eyes, stymied writer Baba takes readers on an amusing, thought-provoking ride as he circles the streets of Zagreb bemoaning the dying out of domestic beer, Kancheli's ridiculous musical lighter, and the fear of going home. His wife Vera, facing wrinkles and an alcoholic spouse, discovers that e-mail is cheaper than therapy as she reshapes her life. Reflective insight, biting humor, and life-changing experiences combine to revive hope in the shadows of Zagreb's city buildings.

Reader's Thoughts


This book is hilarious but meaningful. I read this one for a class among a whole slough of other Eastern European novels translated to English, and this one stands out because it is crude, quirky, and interesting; and all of that is a good thing. This is a book that is perfect for class discussions. There is a whole lot of analysis to be done on the paradox between the author's claim that this book has a happy ending and the fact that very few of the characters seemed to end up reaching closure or being particularly happy in the end. The communication breakdowns and quirky thought processes of the characters will cause most psychologists to face-palm, but through their social ineptitude they cause many laughs.


Populated by a diverse set of vaguely out-of-sorts middle aged people, I felt a little like I was reading someone who'd seen inside the not very inspiring lives most of the people of my generation live (except perhaps my circle of friends and associates drinks a little less). That said, it is also easy to read it as a political parable about a group of middle aged people who grew up during the Yugoslav communist era and whose lives changed irrevocably when they were in their early 30s – just too late to catch up with the changes, and just too early for them to be established and therefore to weather the changes. Popovic's story telling style is sparse, and efficient. There are not many wasted words, and he has the skill of encapsulating the general experience in a vignette. None of the characters is particularly likeable, but almost all are charming and engaging, the humour is wry, most of the interwoven tales sad, and many of the moments utterly absurd. A lovely reminder that we should be grateful to translators.

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