Review: How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed by Slavenka Drakulić

Imagine living in a country where your political system did not consider your needs as a woman and mother important enough to provide for. It’s easy enough in the West to bemoan the superficiality of a consumer culture, but how long could you last, ladies, in a country that had no consumer culture at all? Imagine a life without cosmetics, any sort of feminine hygiene products, where fruit was available only sporadically if at all, and where recycling was not about ecology, but about the complete lack of any goods to replace worn-out items.

How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed, a book by Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulić is a wonderful description of what it was to live as a woman trying to create a normal life under a totalitarian regime. Encouraged by her feminist friends in the West, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan, Ms. Drakulic describes what it was like for women in the first few years after all of the regimes fell. While pundits described grand political theories about what just happened after the Wall fell and what was continuing to happen, Drakulic was among the first authors writing about how these regimes affected ordinary women.

This book is a quick and wonderful read that shows communism didn’t necessarily end when the Wall came down. It will take future generations for all of that communism to leave the mind.

by Karen Van Drie

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