Ever wonder what it was like to be a Serbian middle schooler in the 1980s? On February 24, the wonderful Arcadia Conrad performed “The New Disease” by Ksenia Lakovic. Big thanks to Ryan Alpers to capturing this on film.
It is our hope to produce another show in the next few months. We are currently seeking venue space. Feel free to email us if you have ideas–or better yet, space to offer!
How do different generations grapple with social change? For the narrator in Ksenia Lakovic’s “The New Disease,” it means clearing trash on her middle school courtyard in 1986 Belgrade while her stalwart teacher lectured her on the perils of fascism. We were taken by the language and style of Lakovic’s prose, which expresses its own exploration of “new terrains,” and are thrilled to perform it on February 24 at the San Jose Museum of Art.
Ksenia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with her husband and son, and revisits her native Serbia every summer. She holds a PhD from UCLA and a BS from University of Belgrade, and is an alumna of Squaw Valley Community of Writers and Napa Valley Writers Conference. Her work won the UCLA Kurnitz Creative Writing Award and was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award and Tillie Olsen Short Story Award. She has written for The Globe and Mail, The Millions, and several other publications.
Ksenia is currently finalizing her first novel, both in English and Serbian language. The novel, set between 1992 and 2012, is based on her memories of the Yugoslav wars and their aftermath. Read an excerpt and more of her work at www.klakovic.com. She agreed to answer a few questions for us in preparation for our show.
What inspired you to participate in Play On Words?
I like the idea of bringing together writers and performers, and contributing to our creative local community. Play on Words has also been recommended by Valerie Fioravanti, whose writing I admire.
Which writers or performers inspire you?
Dubravka Ugrešić has been a huge inspiration to me for over two decades, because of her distinct writing style and her sharp perspective on my home region and the world.
Name a book or performance that fundamentally affected you.
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro and Black Lamb and Gray Falcon by Rebecca West.