Friday, September 21, 2018

Review of 'My Cat Yugoslavia'

Strange and not entirely satisfying. A young Kosovan man who is a refugee in Finland, and is gay but not entirely comfortable about it, lives on his own, but has a pet boa constrictor for company. And then he meets a talking cat at a gay bar (the cat is sort of homophobic, but the young man and the cat seem to have sex, though it's hard to be sure), and the cat moves in with him.

There is a parallel narrative about his mother as a young girl in Kosovo, in a very traditional patriarchal and conservative community. The Kosovans all love Tito but socialism doesn't seem to have had much impact on their way of life or material well-being. It all goes horribly wrong, first for the young girl and then for Yugoslavia and Kosovo. The family flee to Finland, where her horrible husband is even more bitter and unpleasant to his wife and children, who eventually run away from that one of them can become the young man of the other narrative.

The cat becomes progressively more unpleasant as a lover and house guest, and the young man becomes pitifully and slavishly devoted to him, echoing the way his mother was like a slave to his brutal and nasty father. And then, on a trip to Kosovo to visit his grandparents, the cat just vanishes, and doesn't reappear in the story, or even the young man's thoughts. And then he has to kill his snake, which he sometimes loves.

What does it all mean? I haven't the faintest idea. It might be allegorical, but I didn't get the allegory. It's well written, but disturbing and sort of empty at the same time.

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