Shortlisted for the 2019 Victorian Premier's Literary Awards for Non-fiction
Unpolished Gem with a touch of Stasiland: a funny, dark and tender memoir about growing up between the lunacy of Yugoslavia’s civil war and suburban Australia.
Sofija Stefanovic was born into conflict. Her homeland, Yugoslavia, was on the brink of war, and her socialist mother and capitalist father were torn in trying to decide whether to leave the cosmopolitan Belgrade that they adored for the safety of Australia. No wonder, then, that Sofija had so many questions as she grew up: which Disney movie would her life mirror? How did Yugo rock songs compare with the Tin Lids? And when would her teachers and classmates realise she was supposed to be the star of every show?
Throughout her childhood, the conflicts would continue as Sofija’s family moved back and forth between Australia and Yugoslavia, unable to settle in one home. The war that had been brewing started to rage, and the pain and madness it caused stretched all the way to Melbourne, where Sofija found herself part of a funny and strange community of ex-Yugoslavians. Then, as the Yugoslav Wars moved towards their brutal conclusion, and with Sofija distracted by boys and school plays and MarioKart, her family faced their own desperate battle when her father fell ill. Suddenly the world had been turned upside-down all over again.
By turns hilarious, moving and beautifully candid, Miss Ex-Yugoslavia captures the experience of being a perpetual outsider – and learning, in the end, that perhaps you prefer it that way. With appearances from war lords and their pet tigers, mafia bosses and beauty queens, this extraordinary memoir announces a bright and compelling new Australian voice.
About the Author
Sofija Stefanovic is a MothStorySLAM winner and a founding faculty member of The School of Life in Melbourne. She hosts the popular literary salon Women of Letters New York, and her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Elle and The Guardian.