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Forbidden Bread

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  69 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Forbidden Bread is an unusual love story that covers great territory, both geographically and emotionally. The author leaves behind a successful career as an American financial analyst to pursue Ales Debeljak, a womanizing Slovenian poet who catches her attention at a cocktail party. The story begins in New York City, but quickly migrates, along with the author, to Sloveni ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by North Atlantic Books
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Jul 07, 2010 Daisy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Alenka, J.
At first I thought I was going to have to drudge through repeated phrases and clichés, but after the first chapter describing falling in love with an "exotic, dark-haired poet-lover" (oh I rolled my eyes at that one), this book got much better. An American woman marries a Slovenian man and moves to Ljubljana during the height of the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. She remains there despite danger, language and culture barriers, and the usual doubts about marriage.
Her memoir is intere
May 14, 2009 Aaron rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: armchair travellers, Americans
Delightful fish-out-of water memoir of a successful American woman who falls in love with a young poet and joins him in his homeland of Slovenia, recently emerged from the former nation of Yugoslavia. Like most Americans, my only real familiarity with the former Yugoslavia centered around horrific accounts of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and the subsequent trial and conviction of Slobodan Milošević. From this book, I learned Slovenia was largely insulated from those conflicts; they emerged as an i ...more
Apr 14, 2011 Meaghan rated it really liked it
A quite good memoir. The author, a financial analyst in New York City, threw caution to the wind when she married a Slovenian poet and moved to his brand-spanking-new country in 1993. She didn't know anyone else there and didn't speak Slovenian, and the war in Bosnia was going on close enough that they could hear it. Nevertheless, the transition was a success.

Debeljak fell in love with her adopted county and writes about it beautifully and with good-natured humor -- both its good parts and its b
This is one of those stories that has a little bit of everything: love, war, history, culture, travel, humor. It is never just a love story or just a travelogue though. Most of all it is a story of transformation; firstly of Aleš and Erica as they transition from lovers to husband and wife to parents and secondly, of Slovenia as it transitions from being part of Yugoslavia to a newly independent country.
After the first third of the book, I was not sure if I liked it enough to keep reading. I was
Feb 21, 2010 Betsy rated it really liked it
I really liked this book about a woman who left a good job in NYC to live with her Slovenian boyfriend in Ljubljana in the early 90's, just after independence from Yugoslavia and way before Slovenia joined the EU. She married the guy, had kids, and still lives there. It was interesting to learn more about the history of the country, from the author's point of view, before I traveled to Slovenia.
Vera at LuxuryReading.Com
Feb 16, 2016 Vera at LuxuryReading.Com rated it really liked it
In 1991, Erica Johnson was an investment analyst living in New York city when she met a dark-haired Slovenian poet, Ales Debeljak. On their first date, Ales made it clear that he intended to return to Slovenia in three-months time, and that he would not let any "forbidden bread" (i.e. forbidden fruit or in this case, Erica) derail his plans. The looming expiration date aside, the two began a relationship, with neither one knowing exactly where it was headed. A break-up and make-up later, Ales, t ...more
Jul 29, 2010 Julia rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, slovenia
This is the biography of the author's falling in love with a slovenian poet and consequently following him to his home-country from the states - a small country in the heart of Europe (not so very different from Austria in this aspect) which has just emerged from the conglomerate of Ex-Yugoslavia when the author arrives at the beginning of the nineties.

The book is a pleasant easy-to-read mixture of a little bit of history, some linguistic chit-chat, descriptions of the problems encountered when
Jun 18, 2009 Libraryscat rated it really liked it
Let me begin this review with thanks to LibraryThing for providing me with the opportunity to read this wonderful book. The second thing is that my lifelong dream has been to be a Slovak peasant knowing of course, as author Erica Johnson Debeljak discovers in her book Forbidden Bread that this group doesn t exist in Central Europe with the romanticized vision I have in my head. But when Erica first moved to Slovenia with her lover and fianc�, the rural lifestyle and traditions were still common ...more
Aug 18, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Perfect! Not just a must-read for anyone travelling to Slovenia but one of the most elegantly written books I have read. This is described as a love story but it is not a soppy romance. It is more about how an American girl counters unanimous advice not to emigrate with her poet lover to his Slovenian homeland. Touching on all aspects of life in Slovenia - its complex language, cultural differences with the US, bureaucratic hurdles and its eventful recent and not so recent history - the author a ...more
Nov 03, 2016 Jacquie rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
I was tentative approaching this book. Normally I try to stay away from love stories with a ten foot pole but luckily it was so nicely interwoven that I fell into the story and her life. The romance worked and it's not sickly sweet but rather it nicely complements the Slovenian and fish out of water narratives. A good weekend, arm chair traveler book about a country that is usually a mystery to anyone outside of it.
Mar 25, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it
The author lived in Ljubljana during a very interesting time - the transition from Communism/Yugoslavia to Capitalism/EU. She does a good job of outlining her experience - but it sometimes felt like she was forcing the "foreignness" and how difficult it was. I'd be thinking - that doesn't sound too weird as she was trying to say how strange things were. Guess she was just a very sheltered American before moving there.
Jan 18, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
I read this book because I am headed to Slovenia later this year and knew nothing of the history of the area. I wanted a bit of background in an easy to understand and entertaining way. The book delivered well on this aspect for me, as an easy way into a better understanding of the history and culture. Now, I can read the more historical pieces with a bit more context. It also was well written and a nice story.
Jun 03, 2009 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Top notch memoir by an American who moves to Slovenia (a formerly Communist) Central European country when she marries Alesh, her "black-haired poet lover".

Perfectly combines the personal with the historical/political. Recommended if you like memoirs, Communist-bloc narratives, love stories, or stories of personal growth and cultural change.
Sep 15, 2016 Jenny rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-read
Memoir by an American woman (New York investment banker) who falls in love with a Slovenian poet, and moves there, marries him, and starts a family. interesting to hear her experiences acculturating, especially in regard to pregnancy and raising children.
Nov 21, 2010 Bill rated it liked it
Good list of typical experience that a first-timer has dealing with Slovenes--insightful--but the writing is atrocious.
Paul McGuiness
Jan 15, 2017 Paul McGuiness rated it it was amazing
Interesting views of Slovenia
Jul 27, 2010 Phil rated it liked it
Fun, easy going memoir of another american who has fallen in love with slovenia...the difference is she is still living there.
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Great read for anyone considering a visit to Slovenia.
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Erica Johnson Debeljak (born 1961, San Francisco, U.S.) is an American-Slovenian writer and translator, an American expatriate living in Slovenia.

From 1987 to 1993, she worked as an financial analyst at the French government-owned Banque Nationale de Paris and as lender to the major Wall Street firms.

After moving to Slovenia, she has worked as a translator and columnist for local newspaper Delo. H
More about Erica Johnson Debeljak...

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