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Ukulele Jam

Alen Mešković
Publication Date: 
Monday, March 19, 2018
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Winner of the Kunstnerprisen 2013.

‘As funny as a Nick Hornby, but with an existential seriousness that cannot be mistaken.’
Ekstra Bladet

‘Captivating novel... Humour and reminders of both Salinger and Knausgaard.’

Miki, a Bosnian teenager, and his family are escaping the Balkan war. They live in a Croatian refugee camp, a former holiday resort on the Adriatic, but it’s difficult to adjust to their new circumstances. With the war rumbling in the background and his brother missing in a Serbian prison camp, Miki and his new friends pick up girls, listen to music and have campfire parties on the beach. Then war breaks out between Croats and Bosnians and friends threaten to become enemies. Miki wants to emigrate to Sweden, but his parents can’t face leaving behind their old life in Bosnia. 

Based on his own experiences, Alen Meskovic has written a novel by turns humorous and tragic. It is lively, poetic, raw, affecting and very funny, all the while depicting a European tragedy whose consequences still resonate today.

Its subject and its resonant style made Ukulele Jam a success in Europe, where it has been translated into nine languages.


English translation by Paul Russell Garrett


‘A fantastic, unfanatical first-hand portrayal of life in a country at war with itself.’
 - Nordjyske

‘A bull’s eye of a first novel… Far from empty-headed entertainment – and at the same time extremely entertaining. Exciting, funny and tragicomic reading.’
- Fyens Stiftstidende

‘What makes Ukulele Jam so refreshing is that it's not just an account of the war in former Yugoslavia, but that it uses the war as a setting for a psychologically astute and humorous story about the trials of youth.’
- LitteraturNu

‘A vivid and entertaining account of the tumultuous life of an adolescent during the war in Yugoslavia.’

‘Tender and adolescent, angry and affectionate… No doubt that we will be hearing more from this author.’
- Münchner Feuilleton

‘The style is self-deprecating and laconic. Not once does the author risk to slip into pathos... As a first novel, this is a remarkable beginning.’
- Deutschlandfunk (radio)

‘The author succeeds not only in portraying an authentic coming-of-age novel reminiscent of “The Catcher in the Rye”, but also in making a statement about society and politics. This is contrasted by a carefree style, which brings a smile to the lips of the reader. The novel seems to scream in your face: live, damn it, live, as if there was no tomorrow!’
- Zuckerkick

‘Mešković’s novel is a pleasure to read. Its simplicity, its tragicomedy and youthful energy make for extremely attractive reading. Ukulele Jam possesses a wonderful human dimension, and Mešković reveals himself as a skillful storyteller. We anxiously await the sequel.’
- Moderna Vremena

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