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Peppered with quotes from diverse sources, this volume unusually combines academic-type discussion with personal reflections. It also gives a first-hand account of post-traumatic stress. Surviving Peace provides greater understanding of the Balkan Wars to those who don’t know much about the Bosniak, Serb and Croatian ethnicities, and some possible new perspectives to those who do. It makes a valuable contribution to ensuring we don’t forget the horrors and enduring impact of war.Joanne Shiells, 'Fancy Goods', Books+Publishing
The lines of enmity and amity that course through the Balkan wars and their aftermath in diverse diasporic communities have found their biographer in Olivera Simić. Like Rebecca West, she has written a song of experience – an intimate but also reflective book of living through the devastating politics of the former Yugoslavia. Recalling a past that remains present, it grapples with the pressing questions of what it means to live with and, importantly live on, with the predicaments of survival and hope. This is a book to be read here and now.Peter D Rush, Director of the International Criminal Justice programme, Institute of International Law and the Humanities, University of Melbourne.
Too often, when we read or hear news of wars in places we know only how to locate on a map, we forget that in each story there are people, people with histories and emotions and lives which are often irreparably damaged by the time the page is turned or the radio broadcast ends. Olivera Simić reminds us that war hurts people in so many, many ways and is never really over. It’s an important and timely reminder of the truth.
In her inspirational and engaging memoir, Olivera Simić has ensured that no one will forget the former Yugoslavia. Her experiences of war and the paradoxes of survival are an individual story, but also universal, as she shares her struggle to find meaning, belonging and identity in post-conflict Bosnia Herzegovina.Claire Moore, Australian Labor Senator
What does the harrowing experience of war look like from the inside of a woman living through it? What happens when the ways she internalizes war collide with the views of others – from parents and family to media and propaganda? In Surviving Peace, Olivera Simić reveals dimensions of war that few others have considered, let alone understood. With her we engage in loss of homeland, language and identity. The scars that are left are rarely, if ever, made as visible as they are in this book. A deeply human narrative set within the growing body of feminist writings on war.Kathleen Barry, author of Unmaking War Remaking Men
Olivera Simić has written a moving, highly personal account of her experiences during a turbulent decade. She brings home, better than any other account I have read, how people on the ground experienced the war in Yugoslavia. She shows how surviving a war changes one's psychology, including how one thinks about the present and the future, while turning memories of the pre-war era into nostalgia. I am so happy that Simić has written this book; I was unable to put it down and read it in one sitting.
This is a powerful and compelling book that opens a dialogue about a traumatic and hurtful past. It brings to life personal and political tragedies with courage, strength and compassion. Olivera Simić is a brave woman, and this book shows that she knows better than most the painful consequences of speaking truth to power, and the courage that is needed to do so. For those who have followed events in the former Yugoslavia periodically and from a distance, glancing occasionally at headlines and news flashes, Surviving Peace explains what happened and what it means. Her hope, that despite the trauma and devastation a future that transcends ethnic, nationalist and religious lines may prevail, is an inspiration.Julianne Schultz, editor of Griffith REVIEW
Bursting with often difficult yet unforgettable stories, Surviving Peace describes Olivera Simić’s dealings with war and violence, and with life during ‘dirty’ post-conflict peace. It speaks to all whose lives have been touched by massive tragedies, social transformations and dislocations due to war. And it will speak to all those wishing to help prevent wars and create true and sustainable peace. Simic remains constructive and positive, optimistic that “another future is possible.” Surviving Peace is an important step in that direction.Ivana Milojevic, author of Breathing: Violence In, Peace Out
Olivera Simić passionately opens herself to the vulnerability of expressing an intense loss of homeland and belonging. Her pain is deep, penetrating the depths of the soul. In telling a courageous story of experiences of war, the reader is carried on an incredible journey of what it means to survive peace. This is an engrossing story. I commend this book as an intimate narrative of hope for a non-violent future.Elisabeth Porter Author of Peacebuilding: Women in International Perspective
Olivera Simić offers us a unique voice of dissent, in the face of immense loss and continuing trauma, prepared to face complex truths about war and hopeful that we may yet learn to resolve conflicts without violence.
Olivera Simić’s impressive Surviving Peace made me weep while enriching my understanding of human suffering at times of conflict and post-conflict, thanks to her scholarly insights woven skilfully within ‘herstory’.Amr Abdalla, Vice Rector 2004–2013, University for Peace, Costa Rica
Reading Surviving Peace made me pause. Sometimes it was a page that made me stop to think, to picture, to wonder. Sometimes it was just a graphic phrase. Olivera Simić has been there: the 'there' of denying the dissolution of one's national identity, the 'there' of struggling against militarism's enticements, the 'there' of making honest postwarCynthia Enloe, author of Seriously! Investigating Crashes and Crises as If Women Mattered
I found this a deeply engrossing book. It is unapologetically written from the point of view of a survivor... Surviving Peace would be well worth adding to your pile!Janet Butler, Whispering Gums
I was impressed with Simic, and although I have not lived through the same trauma of war in my country, I agree with her assessment of its over-looked costs. We need people like her to make us face what we would like to forget. I also appreciated her insistence on blending the “objectivity” of academia with her own emotional response to what happened. She is not primarily concerned with the battlefield, but with the women whose lives war interrupted. As she points out, war, like so much else in life effects people differently depending on our gender.Me, you, and books
An exciting reflection on war and peace ...Alicia Bee, The Australian Writer
While Bosnian Olivera Simic now lives in Australia, she remains haunted by the civil war that tore her country apart. In this memoir she reflects on being "a Yugoslav without Yugoslavia", of feeling homesick for a country that no longer exists.Fiona Capp, The Age
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