The funniest book ever written about Serbia

May 5, 2009

By Karl Haudbourg, rantrave.com

Subjective Atlas of Serbia, the funniest book ever written about Serbia, with a well written introduction by Vladimir Arsenijevic.

There’s an excellent book out there, perhaps the funniest book ever written about Serbia, called “Subjective Atlas of Serbia”. For many months, a group of thirty six young Serbian artists, photographers and designers has been trying to show the disarming reverse side of the black-and-white image of Serbia generally resorted to by the media. All in all, the Subjective Atlas of Serbia Provides a nuanced and unconventional image of Serbia. The book begins with an incredibly informative introduction, written by Serbian writer Vladimir Arsenijevic. He assumes you know nothing about Serbs and walks you through a well written introduction discussing why it is not easy being a Serb. Then, Vladimir Arsenijevic outlines the troubled relationship between ‘Europe’ and Serbia. Here’s a short excerpt, but it’s worth reading the whole thing:

“Europe somehow thinks that it is ok to be arrogant and self-imposing. Therefore, for Serbs (but also for the rest of the unruly gang of cheap, poor and sadly uncivilized sub-European underdogs such as Albanians, Moldavians, Bosnians, Macedonian etc.) “Europe” does not exactly spell equality, opportunity, happiness and promise of decent living. On the contrary, if you take a good, a long look at it from where we stand, it appears rather like a rich folks no-entry-allowed-without-a-membership-card polo club the gates of which we should somehow crash in order to join in the plunder. Our contacts so far with this huge elite neighborhood were awkward at best, anyway. The divine Europe, this ideal of nations, was either clumsy or downright vicious on our soil and this something that keeps bothering us even more then our failed and strayed and profoundly problematic Serbian identity.”

The following chapters cover just about everything you ever wanted to know about Serbia, Belgrade and Serbs, from the architecture, to the cuisine, the music, the maps, the flag, the people, Belgraders, Chinese living in Serbia and more. Profusely illustrated with maps, charts and colour photos, this subjective atlas of Serbia would make a fine addition to any school or personal library. Teachers, diplomats, and travellers who would like to deepen their own understanding of Serbian society will find it particularly useful.