The surprising lessons that life inside a surveillance state
taught one young American
about freedom, plenty, and privacy
"This pensive, engrossing memoir limns the author’s summer internship doing voice-overs and writing 'American' captions for short, usually animated films for Zagreb Film studio in a Yugoslavia led by Tito and suffering
the deprivations of the Cold War. Though Yugoslavia held itself apart from the USSR, and its citizens could,
for example, attain passports and travel, there are secret police, shortages, and a generally slow-motion life astonishing and uncomfortable to Green, who doesn’t speak the language or look the part (and who quickly
hangs up her miniskirt for the duration).
Clearly re-created from her writings at the time, the book’s chapters—each beginning with a tough, thoughtful proposition the author faces, often concerning her own prejudices and felt limitations—cover such topics as
housing, food, morality, socialism, and communism. The author’s sensitive, searching prose makes it feel as though readers are eavesdropping on her thoughts, making every page highly personal and captivating; we learn as Green learns.
The slow pace of life in the Croatian capital forces Green to realize her feelings about American time (why U.S. citizens "find" or "lose" time), what in life is truly important, and—most interesting—why she has felt blessed,
perhaps led, from the time she was a child.
An impressive portrait of a country in a tumultuous time but also of a young woman in an equally tumultuous time, eventually heading home with eyes open to the absolute need for equality for women, other races, and the poor
and disadvantaged—and for the procurement of her place, her work, in the world." — Eloise Kinney, Booklist,
American Library Association, November 2015 (starred review)
“Surya Green’s fascinating book narrates two journeys undertaken simultaneously . . . her unsought sojourn from Stanford, California, to Yugoslavia in 1968. . . . [and] an inner one that obliged her to scrupulously re-examine her most basic beliefs as a person and a citizen . . . intensely personal and perceptive….inspiring and uplifting…full of extraordinary personal adventures…. a compelling story indeed.” — Henry Breitrose, founder of the documentary film program and late professor emeritus of communication, Stanford University, from the Foreword
"The book Once upon a Yugoslavia written by Surya Green: I was touched by the frankness of the words. A young woman living for some time in another cultural society, in what we call a poor country, with completely different possibilities and customs. By then, she experienced so many changes in her own life! The story is of immense importance in the knowing and sharing of differences and their coming together.
The beautiful American English is a joy to read. We mostly see poorer English, but not in this unique document, based on personal daily activities, in a historic context of two worlds. I especially like the way Surya writes about the persons she meets, the characters and detailed information about the situations. It is as if the reader might be in the same situation, to be part of the story, while the author is getting to know herself. This gives a tremendous feeling of unity.
At the end, the author is becoming more aware of the fact she loves the persons she meets, which is something more of us might do. A must read for all people searching for significance in their own lives too. Written is a full amount of thoughts about the personal changes that might happen, when a cultural shock is lived through. Thank you for publishing and selling this wonderful book!"— Lies Visscher, Founder, Leven met de Aarde non-profit,
"Good book, nice read, well written." — Lon Dugger, Amazon Reviewer
“Once Upon a Yugoslavia gives a clear account of the differences between the communist socialism as evidenced by Surya Green in her sojourn in Yugoslavia in 1968, vs the capitalistic background she experienced with her New York City upbringing. The assurances of a guaranteed security lifestyle which limited personal freedoms vs the "I-istic lifestyle revolving mainly around competition, money, power, things, and appearances." How these differences and experiences helped her in her strong quest to shape her own more spiritual identity. Surya writes well how these experiences helped her transcend her own limitations into a more universal consciousness and existence. A strongly recommended read.”— BG, Amazon Reviewer“In Once Upon a Yugoslavia, Surya Green presents a unique perspective on the socio-political climate of Tito’s Yugoslavia in 1968. Her astute description of a culture she experienced as so different from her American heritage provides us with much food for thought about issues that remain relevant to our lives today. And yet this extremely well-written book, in a clear and direct style, captivates us with its interesting characters and developments as if we were reading a novel.” — Stardancer, Amazon Reviewer
"After reading The Call of the Sun, which was an eye-opener already, Once Upon a Yugoslavia is the perfect prequel to understand The Call of the Sun on an even deeper level….This new story is an exciting must read…because of all the wonderfully deep lessons, and sometimes also quite hilarious situations, in how to understand all mysteries that evolve before us. In brief: this book strengthens one’s contact with the deep inner eye and gives meaning to signals that would otherwise be ignored.” — Egbert Bouwhuis, Managing Director GPX green energy system, Arnhem, the Netherlands“The writer takes you on a wonderful journey from Socialist Yugoslavia through buzzing New York City to the Flower Power days of California in the late sixties. But her travels are not only geographical; Once Upon a Yugoslavia also invites you to a journey within. Highly recommended!” — bastiaensen, Amazon Reviewer
"Presented as a first hand immersion into 1968’s Yugoslavia, Surya Green presents a memoir both historically reflective and personally introspective. A deeply felt, consistently integrated, bass line runs beneath the text of her account, making it a valuable read. Its essence is spiritual liberation birthing from the struggles of confinement.
In precious rarity, parallel accounts of this existential evolution surface from the oppression most generally associated with prison stays, orphanage life, and monastic seclusion. Liberation is never the quid pro quo of time survived in a closed system. It is the exception to every likelihood, and requires a committed resolve to move consciously inward when familiar freedoms are eliminated.
Surya Green painstakingly considers the social and political implications of two diverse societies: Vietnam-Era America and Tito’s, post WWII Yugoslavia. Although the author strives to discern experiential clarity from the distraction of physical and psychological discomfort, the story evolves into the catalyzing her own inner alchemy. This book’s merit is established by the author’s ability to demonstrate her inner process as she articulates external events with inexhaustible consideration. It is an imperfect and messy process.
The narrative is persistent in such a way as one would need to be continuously listening, and working at the edge of one’s limits to stretch beyond the personal mundane and into the ecstatic Self. Having left the bright lights of NYC, Green embarks on a deepening exploration of societal shadow through the dim, the drab, and the dreary routine characteristic of this Balkan arena. Although she has consciously opted to intern abroad, the shift of cultural dictates creates personal distress with a swift initiation to all things disenchanting. American ebullience is replaced with systematized repression via social rejection, commercial limitations, and constricted professional opportunities. These intangibles build the walls of Green’s confinement. This confinement sets the premise for an unwitting invitation to embrace the practice of yoga.
To those not practicing yoga, the word connotates physical exercise. However, the practice is not about contortions; it is a willing immersion into the difficulty of stretching limits of mind, heart, and personality. Postures are one method of employing awkward discomfort to awaken to deeper levels of conscious connection. Yet many yogis don’t practice postures (asana). Sitting in stillness (dharana), quieting all thought (dhyana), observing ethics (yamas), transmuting challenges (niyamas), and dissolving distractions (pratyahara) comprise other limbs of yoga practice. Once Upon a Yugoslavia is an unspoken practice of these limbs.
Intern supervisor at Zagreb Films, Zelimir Matko, offers Ms Green a greeting that identifies a philosophy, and describes her yet-to-be recognized struggle in a foreign land, “Welcome to Yu-go-slave-ia!” Even from a distance of time and personal development, Green refers to Yu-go-slave-ia with the eternal repetition of a spoken and silent mantra. The term qualifies, strengthens, and validates the effort required to cope with the daily challenges of work, life, and growth throughout her sentence of voluntary contract.
Amidst the colorless standard of unchanging menu and circadian sluggishness, Green explores her partially conscious attachments - what laymen call personal baggage. These include ancestral wounds, capitalist urges, and tendencies toward self entitlement. Modern life makes it unlikely for one to move into honest consideration of such matter, yet her prolonged adventure successfully cultivates this difficult introspection. Despite the fact that she is largely alone in this process - minus the benefit of nurturing mentor or friendly advocate - she is victorious. The conscious change within the author bears reward before any external changes can be viscerally experienced. Contentment is acquired with genuine gratitude.
For readers too young or historically disconnected from Eastern European affairs of state, Green offers a documentary style foundation of political events as they relate to the structure of her experience. On levels professional, social, and personal, details of East/West political paradox are brooded upon, noted, and credited for influencing cultural differences. Less consistent with the lion’s share of her written accounts, Green fast forwards to her own ideological projections of world economics, spirit, and personal ethics. As much as this author is touting the need to release from an “I-centered” awareness, work obviously remains to be done. Such is the nature of an authentic and ongoing practice. — Toni Zuper, owner/practitioner Alternative Healing, Philadelphia, Amazon Reviewer
ISBN 978-0-9900043-4-9, 336 pages, published by New Europe Books, Williamstown, Massachusetts, USA, November 2015, with eight page black and white photos insert, foreword, glossary, and index.
“Surya Green's mystical experiences are the real stuff of the soul and she has the power to express them in words. It is wonderful she has written this book. Whatever can increase faith in the world is precious, a gift of God. Her book will serve a lot of people.”-- Irina Tweedie, Sufi mystic and author Daughter of Fire“.... very interesting personal logbook of a pilgrim culling any possible clue to a higher wisdom....”-- Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, Sufi master“Surya is, of course, a fine writer and I hope her book will be made available to the wider public.”-- Ram Dass, spiritual teacher“Traveling with Surya Green will help you to wake up and see you are a member of the Sun family.”-- Rabbi Zalman M. Schachter-Shalomi, New Age pioneer“Surya Green's book very much captured me. She takes the reader along on her fascinating spiritual journey . . . we receive, in many different ways, a message of inner deepening and oneness with the source of all life . . . Surya bridges the differences between East and West, which is what the world really needs . . . an exceptionally informative and inspiring book.”-- Dr. H. J. Witteveen, former president-director, International Monetary Fund, and vice-president International Sufi Movement“I have never met a woman with such an energy and such a creative inspiration as Surya. Her book gives me a proof that the road of true spirituality still exists.”-- Bruno Mertens, founder Handcraft Welfare Center for Maoris, New Zealand“Surya's book really surprised me. I couldn't put it down until I reached the very end. Surya gets to the spiritual essence, and at the same time the book captured me like a novel. I love her deep human feelings and honesty. It is a very inspiring book which I recommend to everyone.”-- Diana Vandenberg, meta-realist painter
ISBN 90-808427-2-9, 354 pages, published by Element Books of UK/USA/Australia, includes twenty-four black and white photos, notes on the text, two glossaries, informative list of illustrations, and index.
Would you like Surya Green to sign the book personally to you? Please see Get.
‘Ik ben heel blij met Surya's boek. Toen ik twaalf jaar geleden mijn uitgeverij begon, koesterde ik de gedachte om een substantiële bijdrage te leveren aan het nieuwe spirituele tijdperk. Dat ideaal komt in Als de Zon spreekt volledig tot bloei.’-- Willem Franken, Uitgeverij De Ster‘Surya's mystieke ervaringen zijn ware zielebelevingen, en zij bezit de kracht deze in woorden uit te drukken. Het is geweldig dat ze dit boek heeft geschreven. Al wat geloof in de wereld kan doen toenemen is kostbaar, een gave van God. Haar boek zal heel wat mensen een dienst bewijzen.’-- Irina Tweedie, Soefi mystica en auteur Daughter of Fire‘Surya Green's boek heeft mij bijzonder geboeid. Zij neemt de lezer mee op haar fascinerende spirituele zoektocht…. Op allerlei manieren komt een boodschap naar voeren van innerlijke verdieping en eenheid met de bron van alle leven…. Er ontstaat een overbrugging van de verschillen tussen Oost and West, waaraan de wereld grote behoefte heeft…. Al met al een zeer informatief en inspirerend boek.’-- Dr. H.J. Witteveen, voormalig directeur van het Internationaal Monetair Fonds en onderdirecteur van de Internationale Soefi Beweging‘Ik heb nooit eerder een vrouw ontmoet met zoveel energie en zoveel creatieve inspiratie als Surya. Als de Zon spreekt bewijst voor mij dat de weg van ware spiritualiteit nog steeds bestaat.’-- Bruno Mertens, Vipassana-meditatieleraar en spirituele pionier‘Surya's boek was heel verrassend; ik heb het achter elkaar uitgelezen. Surya raakt essentiële spirituele warden en tegelijkertijd boeit het boek als een spannende roman. Haar menselijk gevoel en haar eerlijkheid hebben me diep getroffen. Het boek is inspirerend en ik kan het iedereen aanbevelen.’-- Diana Vandenberg, metarealistisch schilderes
ISBN 90-6556-039-4, gebonden, 414 bladzijden, Nederlandse vertaling uit het Engels, uitgegeven door Uitgeverij De Ster, Tilburg, Nederland, is geillustreerd met 84 zwart wit foto’s en bevat voetnoten, een verklarende woordenlijst, een lijst van illustraties, een dankwoord en een register.
Would you like Surya Green to sign the book personally to you? Please see Get.