Magazine article World Literature Today

Mitrova Amerika

Magazine article World Literature Today

Mitrova Amerika

Article excerpt

Petar Saric. Mitrova Amerika. Belgrade. Prosveta. 2012. isbn 9788607019663

Mitrova Amerika (Mitar's America) is the Serbian literary contribution to the topic of immigration to the United States. In this intriguing novel, Petar Saric (b. 1937), a native of Kosovo and author of several novels, books of poetry, and plays, takes a look at Serbian immigration before World War I. The protagonist, Mitar, a Montenegrin, arrives at Galveston, Texas, sponsored by another Serb who immigrated before him and eventually became a proverbially rich man in America. Mitar experiences the hard work of unloading ships in the Galveston harbor while assimilating to the new way of life and learning, among other things, the new language.

Saric does not dwell on the physical aspects of those experiences but rather on the psychological and emotional difficulties Mitar is exposed to while trying, or sometimes not trying hard enough, to accept the new way of life. His main dilemma is whether to accept the new life while forgetting the old one. Unfortunately, the old country is still alive in him. Thus, when World War I erupts, he and many of his former countrymen return to Serbia and enroll in the Serbian army as volunteers. Mitar leaves his wife and two children behind in Galveston, while a third child goes to Serbia with him. Although this does not solve all his problems, he has at least tried to solve them.

The plot is enriched by the love story between Mitar and his wife, Ljubica, also an immigrant from Montenegro. She adjusts to the new life faster than her husband, which makes his joining the Serbian army more plausible, although he is not sure whether it is the real reason. Throughout the novel he is beset by strange contradictions in his nature. …

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