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The Book of Revenge

- A Blues for Yugoslavia -

The Book of Revenge

Category: Current Affairs - International; Biography & Autobiography - Personal Memoirs
Format: Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Publisher: Vintage Canada
ISBN: 978-0-679-31397-7 (0-679-31397-4)

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March 7, 2007:
The Book of Revenge
has won The Nereus Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize.

March 13, 2007:
The Book of Revenge was nominated for British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction.

July 2008:

The Serbian translation of The Book of Revenge was published in Belgrade. In Serbian, the title is Knjiga osvete. The book was published with the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts (International Translation Grant Program).
Three public events - in Niš, Belgrade and Kragujevac - went all very well: a big Thank You to all who participated. I owe a special gratitude to His Excellency Rob McDougall, Ambassador of Canada in Belgrade, who opened the book-launch at the Belgrade Student Cultural Centre on 9 July 2008.
Media response was quite good. Here you can find links to a few major interviews (all in Serbian): Politika, E Novine, Danas.

Reviews for The Book of Revenge

While building the stories of odd and endearing characters, Todorovic slyly slips in information about the history of Yugoslavia, and the country's march toward war.  Few non-fiction writers can handle their material with lightness as well as depth.  Todorovic can.  I hope the non-fiction prizes don't overlook this fantastic memoir.

—Marianne Apostolides, Women’s Post

The Book of Revenge will not be the last book to be written about the darkness that descended over the Balkans after Tito’s death. But it is easily one of the best.

The Sun Times

One of Todorovic's big heroes was Jimmy Hendrix, and it is hard not to think of Hendrix's own brand of blazing blues running through the book. [...] Clearly, Todorovic is an exceptional creative writer, but he is also an excellent reporter. In my mind, a record of a culture is preserved mainly through the arts, and Yugoslavia couldn't have asked for a more faithful recorder.

—Diana Adams, The Edmonton Journal

It’s a wonderfully told tale. In addition to being a skilled journalist, Todorovic is also a musician and poet, and his memoir delivers keen-eyed reportage with impeccable pacing and the occasional flight of dark fantasy.

—Alexander Varty, Georgia Straight

Todorovic's splendid memoir is a look-back-in-sadness at his once and former country, a country that haunts him still.

—Douglas J. Johnston, Winnipeg Free Press

Though he's still in his 40s, his life seems to have encompassed centuries of change, and his boyhood is a wonderfully strange mix of wet nurses, Wild West fantasies, rote recitations of revolutionary heroics and elaborate smuggling expeditions...

—John Allemang, The Globe and Mail

He's a poet, a bold journalist, a beatnik [...] Great detail and marvelous language [...] The book brings out with astonishing clarity the avant-garde art scene in Belgrade.

—Peter Moreira, National Post [featured book]

His strengths [are] above all a kind of sardonic resignation, mixed with an appealing refusal to take either himself or anyone else too seriously, and a fine eye for the ridiculous. Todorovic is something of a specialist in the deadpan put-down.[...] The Book of Revenge presents an intensely polemical account of the break-up of Yugoslavia along with the engaging memoir.

—David Rieff, The Globe and Mail [featured book]

His memoir [is] interspersed with poetic riffs.

—Philip Marchand, Toronto Star [featured book]

His memoir is a primer on what happened in that afflicted corner of Europe as it spiralled into war. It's a highly personal account, often even darkly comic, but balanced in its approach. It is ultimately a very sad book, a lament on what was lost and what might have been.

—Marc Horton, The Edmonton Journal [excerpt from an interview]

About the book

A darkly comic recollection of a country that no longer exists, and a lyrical examination of the importance of taking a stand when it counts. Set against a backdrop of horrific world events, this is narrative non-fiction at its best.

To a young boy growing up poor but happy in an industrial town in Serbia, politics means many national holidays that result in parades, piglets roasting on a spit, and getting to see both his hard-working parents at the same time. An observant child, Dragan Todorovic quickly learns the power of words. Even before he can read or write, he is mesmerized by the squiggles made by the grownups around him and diligently recreates them in the notebooks he carries with him always. He also learns that reciting naughty limericks usually yields some chocolate.

This love of words eventually takes Dragan to Belgrade, as editor for a cultural magazine. He hopes to inspire and support the young and innovative artists of the time, but soon discovers that naughty articles do not yield the same results as limericks, and he finds himself constantly clashing with the system. His many questions get only one answer: he is drafted into the army.

Dragan survives his tour of duty, but his return to Belgrade is unsettling. Everything is changing, rapidly. Friendships are collapsing, conversations are guarded, nothing is as it seems. Bit by bit, the country he knows and loves is being torn apart.

Filled with great characters and poignant and often hilarious stories, The Book of Revenge is a superb duet of a citizen and his country, a universal exploration of just what it is that inoculates the human spirit from dangerous ideologies and toxic nationalism.

[publisher’s copy]

Book extras

Deleted scenes, cast, soundtrack, etc.
Just a little more to thank you for coming here.

Click here [opens a new window].

Audio excerpts

To give you a taste of the book, I have recorded myself reading a few samples. They are all in mp3 format, and the files are ready for importing into your iTunes, or to be consumed on any kind of portable player out there. Try clicking directly on the links to hear them, and if you have problems, then right-click and save the files on your computer.

Hears on the Street (Tito is coming)

In November 1970, Tito's visit to my hometown was announced. Everyone was supposed to welcome the Yugoslav leader. This passage tells of the preparations in my primary school on the morning of his visit.
[mp3, 128, 7.1 MB]

Recipes for Memories

During the war in ex-Yugoslavia, a series of recipes started circulating among the Serbian women. They turned our humble homes into palaces of hedonistic kings, but...
[mp3, 128, 4.7 MB]


...And, when everything was over, sometimes in 1995, this was how I felt.
[mp3, 128, 6.3 MB]


    The Songs I Don't Dance To Diary of Interrupted Days You are here The Book of Revenge A Shadow and a Dream View Through the Window of a Subway Jockey Full of Bourbon Hurricane Called Bruce


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