Vesna Maric

Vesna Maric was born in Mostar in 1976. When she was sixteen she left Bosnia-Herzegovina and travelled to the UK, an experience she tells in her best-selling novel ‘Bluebird: A Memoir’ for which she was on the long list for an Orwell Prize for literature in 2010.

She lived in Hull and Exeter, and studied Czech literature at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London before working for the BBC World Service. She is now a travel writer and journalist who has worked for Lonely Planet,  Time Out and BBC Online.

Vesna lives in London and is currently writing her first novel.

In Bluebird – a memoir, she writes:

‘The British had, understandably, expected something a little more like ‘proper’ refugees: people suffering, hardship visible on their faces, clothes torn and wrinkled, children’s eyes crusted with tears. Dragan wove through the crowd, closely inspecting everyone’s outfits by pinching a shirt, a skirt or a trouser between two fingers, rubbing it to feel its quality, a look of disgust on his face. It seemed we were well below standard. But the unspoken motto of these Bosnian mothers was: ‘If we are going to be refugees, lets not advertise our misery, let us at least look good’, and I could understand how they felt. It’s not easy suddenly becoming a refugee.’

‘It seemed to me that we, the victims, and they, the rescuers, would have perfectly defined roles, and I imagined us swimming together in the comforting sea of empathy. I didn’t yet understand what I came to understand later – that between a rescuer and a victim stands human nature and aside from empathy, there are self-righteousness, expectations, self-fulfilment, ad roles which at first  are defined and clearly demarcated often become muddled and intertwined.’

Excerpts from ‘Bluebird – a memoir’, 2009