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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,151 ratings  ·  161 reviews
In 1975 Nina Bunjevac’s mother fled her marriage and her adopted country of Canada and took Nina back to Yugoslavia to live with her parents. Peter, her husband, was a fanatical Serbian nationalist who had been forced to leave his country at the end of World War II and migrate to Canada. But even there he continued his activities, joining a terrorist group that planned to ...more
Hardcover, 156 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Jonathan Cape (first published 2014)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,151 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Jan Philipzig
The Repercussions of War

Like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland: A Family History tells the story of a family deeply affected by war and political turmoil. It is the kind of family history that requires the author to discuss personal experiences in broader historical context - not an easy task. One of the greatest strengths of Persepolis is the way in which it seamlessly integrates historical information, hinting at broader developments from the protagonist’s necessarily li
Dov Zeller
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A lot of people are comparing this book to other graphic memoirs about family entanglements with war and political turmoil, and I can understand these comparisons, but in a way Fatherland is a book that is tough to compare to either graphic histories or graphic memoirs because it is trying to be both at once, but in jarring, fragmentary ways. I agree with other reviewers that there isn't a graceful synthesis of the two, but I'm not sure if that necessarily makes the book less powerful. It certai ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
A graphic memoir/family history as it relates to historical events such as Satrapi's Persepolis or Spiegelman's Maus. This one looks at the (long, historical) "conflict" in the Balkans, with a focus in her family history on Tito and Yugoslavia, where it's Royalists vs. Communists. Bunjevac focuses on her Dad's radicalization in the sixties and seventies in this struggle, his imprisonment, his escape to Canada and his being part of a terrorist cell with the purpose, his marrying the author's moth ...more
In Fatherland, Nina Bunjevac explores the difficult history of her family and their home country of Yugoslavia. The first part of the book focuses on her immediate family. They lived a seemingly normal life in Canada, with a lot happening just below the surface (like her father's abuse and alcoholism). In the late 70's, her mother took Nina and her sister to live their grandparents in Yugoslavia. Devastatingly, her mother was forced to leave her brother behind. The second part traces her father' ...more
The artwork was beautifully done, I liked the style very much. Bunjevac retraces her family's history in Yugoslavia, and their immigration to Canada in the 1970s. The story structure and pacing started strong, when it was told from her perspective. However, when she changed the focus to her father, the pacing faltered, and the book seemed out of order. ...more
Jon Nakapalau
The history of the Balkans is a complicated maze of political ideologies. This book puts you in the middle of that maze; and then you understand how hard it is for the people of this region to find a way out.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a story of the author's father, a Serbian nationalist. In the scenes of his childhood you see his reaction to loss is small acts of violence. As he gets older, his life has little joy. He drinks and becomes more violent.

While I'd have liked this to be a more personal book, the story is told in reportorial fashion. You learn how the author's parents met and married. You learn the history of their region. You see the steps by which her father became a terrorist.

I selected this after havin
Ed Erwin
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, comics, memoir
A memoir exploring the family history, and world history, that triggered her father to become a terrorist. The combination of her personal history and the stories from the past are not perfectly meshed, but it is still a strong story.

I knew very little about the history of Yugoslavia in the 20th century. It was messy, and often very ugly. Learning about it with a focus on one single family really brought it to life. The author's father did awful things. The awful things that happened around him
Elizabeth A
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Family histories are often complicated, and in this one a daughter tries to make sense of the choices made by her parents. Mom flees Canada and her abusive husband, returns to Yugoslavia and moves in with her parents. She takes along her two younger daughters, but is forced to leave her son behind. Press rewind, and we meet Dad before he met Mom, and get more insight into his life experiences. There are really troubling scenes depicted, and I actually cringed several times. Flash forward to Dad ...more
Emilia P
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Wow, I am surprised this hasn't been reviewed more! It's kind of fantastic! I mean, it's heavy stuff, hard family secrets painfully brought to light, but it's well done, compassionate even, for a father who ended up being a radical Serbian Nationalist in Canada, and ultimately getting himself killed. It's also the story of his family, her childhood, and a partial history of the complexities of the Balkan conflict. AND it's sober, static, and haunting illustrations set the perfect tone for the he ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not super into graphic novels, but this was a very interesting story. It really left me wanting to learn much more about the history of the former Yugoslavia. ...more
Jen Jones
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully drawn, excellently told. This is a compelling personal story of a family's history which also contextualizes the Balkan conflict concisely. ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
This is an autobiographical graphic novel about the tragic circumstances that ripped apart the author's family - stemming back to the Second World War and the stark, irreconcilable political divisions in Yugoslavia: The monarchy capitulated to the Axis powers, but mass demonstrations resulted in a military coup, after which a new prince was installed as head of state, who then announced Yugoslavia was not going to capitulate after all. That triggered the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first graphic novel. A quick and very moving read about the author's father, his tragic upbringing in former Yugoslavia, and the detrimental effects from this upbringing on his family in Canada. Pleasantly, a lot of the work is focused on unraveling the history of former Yugoslavia, especially in the decade or two post-WWII. This fellow Serb definitely appreciated the history lesson, and I'm positive that any reader interested in Balkan history would as well. ...more
The main thing I got away from this book is that there comes a time in everyone's life where they must reconcile not only their present with their past, but their family history with that of actual history.

In this case, I can't help but be disappointed at how much a main aspect of the latter type of history was misrepresented and/or falsified. If not for this aspect, I would have been able to appreciate the book much more.
Gorgeously illustrated family story.
First off, this is NOT a story about Germany. This cover and title totally makes me think Nazis, and that's not what this is about.

Instead, Bunjevac's cultural heritage is from Yugoslavia. She follows her own early life, which was partially lived in North America, as well as that of her parents, and her grandparents on either side. Most of her childhood was spent in Yugoslavia, while her father was still overseas, and her complicated understanding of his stor
First Second Books
Whenever I read a biography like this, I think about my quiet life growing up in suburbia and am very grateful.
Michael Rudzki
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of author and artist Nina Bunjevac's father's anti-Communist militancy and its cost to her family. Told in two main sections, one from her perspective and the second a more chronological story of her father and his fall, her exquisite, crisp, black and white illustrations make the very muddy conflicts in Yugoslavia a bit clearer. ...more
Wilde Sky
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A woman reflects on her parents and the conflict they were involved in.

This book showed me some of the complexity of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and I found it touching.
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great graphic novel! Everything is there; story masterfully told, wonderful images and brutal honesty, since it's author's personal life story. Not many can openly display such hard stories. Thumbs up!! ...more
In 1975, Bunjevac’s mother, Sally, flees to her birthplace of Yugoslavia with toddler Nina and Nina’s older sister, Sarah, in order to escape her abusive marriage. Her husband, Peter, assumes that demanding Sally leave their eldest child, Petey, behind with him will force Bunjevac’s mother to return with the girls, but Nina ends up staying in Yugoslavia until her father and two of his friends accidentally blow themselves up. Only then does Nina learn that her mother took her daughters and ran be ...more
Ben Saufley
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very quick read. Kind of a strange approach to telling the story, but definitely interesting, communicative, informative. Surprisingly sympathetic (without of course condoning some terrible acts). The art is well-crafted and a also relatively unusual style in the medium – you see a lot of faux-amateur indie comics; a few photorealistic; plenty that mimic the mainstream. You don't see a ton with this sort of Wall Street Journal portrait crosshatching/stippling style. Or, at least, I don't.

I did f
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story of a family torn apart by immigration and ideology, told in a very striking graphic novel. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and unlike some readers I didn't have a problem with the section when the author pans out to focus on the larger historical and cultural issues that were impacting Yugoslavia from the 1900s until the 1970s. It was fascinating to learn how this spilled into domestic terrorism in North America, and the impact on her family, even several thousand miles away from their fa ...more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book in under an hour. This non-fiction book is 75% graphic art and 25% prose depicting the story of Peter Bunjevac (1936-1977) and the history of his family (wife Sally, daughters Sarah and Nina, son Peter), his commitment to the Serbian terrorist organization "Freedom for the Serbian Fatherland," and ultimately his death at 41 years of age in a terrorist bombing in his home country of Canada. Sarah leaves Canada with the daughters returning to Yugoslavia, but Peter refuses to let h ...more
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
An interesting yet overly brief read. I am a big fan of stories from the Balkan and this covered a history that was unknown to me. unfortunately I wish she'd covered more. The story telling was choppy and confusing and only really seemed to skim the surface. Bunjevac is a talented illustrator but I hope in future she can find someone to collaborate with to pull together a truly compelling narrative. ...more
C.E. G
Jun 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Detailed artwork and a personal tale about a national/regional history I knew very little about. I was left wanting a little more of everything - more about her family history, more about Tito and Yugoslavia and the conflict between the Serbs and the Croats, and more about her emotions about the death of her father. But it did whet my appetite for learning more about Eastern European history.
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dark and filled with dread. It makes sense her mother would barricade the windows at night. The Balkans are complicated. Family is complicated.

Will probably appeal to fans of Marjane Satrapi and Joe Sacco.
Jonathan Tennis
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazing story told by a great artist. Great summary of the last hundred years of Balkan conflict that caused so much strife for the people of the region. Artwork is fantastic. Glad I read this.
MK Bailey
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
World Cup 2018: Croatia takes silver. (That French dive was the worst...) Given that only 13 teams have ever made it to the final, Croatia's ascent is a remarkable feat in and of itself - even if they didn't win.

But I've been hyped up on Yugoslavia for several months now, so when I saw this book on the shelf at the library, it seemed as good a time as ever to read it.

(Side note, the book is more Serb than Croat, but at the time, they were all Pioneers, no?)

The art of the book was fantastic. Mayb
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Although Canadian born, Nina Bunjevac spent her formative years in Yugoslavia, where she began her art education before returning to Canada at onset of the war of the 1990s. She continued her education in graphic design at the iconic Art Centre of Central Technical School in Toronto, subsequently graduating from the Drawing and Painting department at OCAD. After a decade of drawing and painting sh ...more

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