People should actively oppose racism and xenophobia
“The book is focused on life in Serbia during the period of transition. Its characters do not remember the socialist era, but they stem from the working class and face all its contemporary problems”, journalist Gojko Vlaovic describes for balkaneu.com his first novel, written mostly for young people. Vlaovic has, namely, decided to write it after a publishing firm has opened competition for children novel up to the age of 14.
*Why have you chosen a Chinese teenager in Serbia to be one of the main characters?
“I do believe that any literary work, especially novels for children, should have some kind of moral. It just came to my mind that one of the characters could be a Chinese teenager who lives in Belgrade with his family. The social system in which we live produces different kinds of deviations, including racism, xenophobia and chauvinism. All these extremisms are fatal and should be avoided by young people because they create nothing but evil. The biggest non-European ethnic community populated in Serbia are the Chinese. My message to young people was that they should never divide their selves following national, racial or religious identities. The youth should always be united in order to prevent reactionary forces to impose upon them divisions and confrontations. The punk movement shares these values. Therefore, Nikola and Jiang, main characters in ‘Brothers by Sound’, are great friends and punks at the same time”.
The novel is probably the most interesting for the young punk movement followers, but what is its precept for the broader public?
“Exactly the same as for the punk movement members. People should not dig trenches. And they should not ignore racism, xenophobia or religious fanaticism. On the contrary, they should actively oppose them”.
You live in Belgrade almost whole your life. Does your novel describe how much the city has changed since you were a teenager?
“The book is focused on life in Serbia during the period of transition. Its characters do not remember the socialist era, but they stem from the working class and face all its contemporary problems. However, Jiang comes from a country which is still socialist and towards which there are many prejudices in the so-called First World. Among these prejudices is the belief that the Chinese do not know what punk is, and that is not true”.
Do you plan to write another book, for young people or something different?
“My next book will be a realist-style description of a modern trade union activist. His name will be ‘Labor Tribune’. I will start writing after the Belgrade Book Fair in October, in which ‘Brothers by Sound’ will experience major presentation”.
You are one of the hosts of an online radio show, and columnist with “Danas” daily. Your punk and leftist position provoke different reactions. How do you see your role in these activities?
“I co-host „Coskarenje“ with my friend Petar Stojanovic Pera since November 2015. One of our first guests was journalist Dragoljub Draza Petrovic, who is now ‘Danas’ editor-in-chief. He was actually the one who suggested to me to start writing the column. You are right, many of my pieces sound as punk and left-wing. I have been listening to punk since I was 14 and that’s my music. I see my left-wing orientation as my class affiliation, rather than as my identity. I live from my work and I am proletarian. I am glad that some people like my views, and I’m even gladder about those who don’t like it”./ibna