• Ivonne Bertoni
• Pamela Smith
• Jann Huizenga
• Esther Levy
• David Johnson Rowe
• Raquel Ramati
• Jann Huizenga
• Teresa Kowalska
• Drazan Gunjaca
• Olga Sam
• Katarina Babamova
• Srđan Karanović
• Jeanne Smoot
from Ivonne Bertoni
May 07, 2016
Ho letto il tuo libro "Il profumo della pioggia nei Balcani". Davvero bellissimo. Mi piacerebbe
conoscere il resto della storia. Scrivi molto bene e la storia
della tua famiglia e della Iugoslavia sono molto interessanti.
Ti prego scrivi ancora.
from Pamela Smith
August 28, 2015
I just finished Luna Levi and am enthralled — what a wonderful
First, many apologies for taking so long to read it. There
has been a great deal happening in my life lately and the
time has fled.
Your story, your insights into character, your descriptions
of these dramatic events, and your extraordinary knowledge
all captivated me. You have spun an absorbing tale intertwined
with a comprehensive history of the Jewish people, their beliefs
and their practices, set against the backdrop of finely described
Spain and Istanbul and laced with key understandings of Christianity
and Islam. What a tour de force! Gordana, you amaze me. How
do you know all this??!!
What else I liked: the slow pace, like a 19th c. novel. The
profound sentiments that brought the characters to life. The
balladic tone. For awhile, I thought Blanca, Solomon, Luna
and Marko all too perfect, too idealized, but you eventually
revealed their flaws and weaknesses, making them human. It's
fascinating that your theme of deep love between people of
radically different backgrounds echoes the Scent of Rain.
from Jann Huizenga
February 10, 2015
Hi again Gordana,
I’m a bit more than halfway done with your novel and just
wanted to tell you how much I’m loving it! It’s amazing--and
the translation is fantastic, too. I am completely immersed
in the plot and the characters while at the same time learning
SO MUCH about Sephardic Jewish history. I cannot believe the
amount of historical research you must have done and you weave
it in so well. (And since I lived in Istanbul for a year and
always heard the Turks talk with pride about how welcoming
they were to various religions, I’m finding that aspect really
interesting too.) I’ve already recommended it to many friends.
Thank you thank you for sending it, and again, congratulations.
from Esther Levy
December 16, 2014
INDA MY DEAR,
Thanks for the paper book you sent. It was such a relief
to finish reading it from the paper version rather than the
I must tell you that I enjoyed your book immensely. I was
amazed not only the beautiful story and the unique way of
bringing it before your readers but also with the broad knowledge
of the historic facts, of jewish and islamic customs and wisdom.
You taught me many facts that I was not aware of.
And the twist of the story at the end!!! - I was not expecting
it and it caught me by surprise but I applaud the courage
of your characters.
Reading this book was a sheer enjoyment.
I'm proud this is the work of MY cousin.
Love you very much
from David Johnson Rowe
May 06, 2013
afternoon...our daughter is studying for a semester in belgrade,
and we just returned from visiting there...i asked her to
lead me to some bookstores that sold books by authors from
the balkans in english,and i bought one of yours, "the
scent of rain in the balkans"...while sad in so many
ways, it is a wonderful book,and just today i was teaching
from it in group that i lead on "literature and faith"...several
of the people wanted all the information on the book...
one of the highlights of my visit was to the little ivo andric
museum...it would not be an exaggeration to say that books
are my life, writing and reading... reading a book like yours
is a good way to learn about a people or a place or a time,
and you accomplished all three...
god be with you
Rev. David Johnson Rowe
Greenfield Hill Congregational Church
1045 Old Academy Road
Fairfield CT 06824
from Raquel Ramati
April 01, 2013
I just finished reading your book, The Smell of Rain in the
Balkans, in Hebrew.
I have no words to tell you how much I enjoyed the book.
It is so well-written, well-translated, and gives such a moving
picture about the Jews during the war in Sarajevo and Belograd.
I brought a copy of the book to my best friend here in New
York, and have recommended it to all my friends in Tel Aviv.
I also watched the material you sent Svetlana from the television
program, which I think is extraordinary. I wish it were here
in New York so we could watch it.
Thank you for creating this magnificent piece of work.
Congratulations and a very happy holiday.
from Jann Huizenga
August 19, 2012
Mysteriously, I received a copy of THE SCENT OF RAIN IN THE
BALKANS from your Colorado publisher. I did not even know
one of your books had been translated!!!
I read it cover to cover practically without putting it down
over the course of a couple of days. Wow, I still feel lost
in that world that you created. Afterwards I found your website
and saw the photo of the Levi sisters, your mother and aunts.
What an incredible story!!!! And how unbelievably moving.
Gordana, I am so immensely proud of you and all that you
have accomplished and so happy that you have written this
particular story.... (and all the others which I hope will
be translated too).
Congratulations on a fine fine fine work. I will never ever
forget Blanki and Riki--absolutely amazing women. What a tribute
Did you ask the publisher to send me the book????? I cannot
figure out how it landed in my hands, but I'm immensely grateful
I am sending you a huge hug and much love.
With many fond memories,
from Teresa Kowalska
April 05, 2010
I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for
the two novels - "Miris kise na Balkanu" and "Cvat
lipe na Balkanu" - which I just read in the Serbian language.
Now I prepare for the reading of the next one, "Bajka
o Benjaminu Baruhu" and on your web site, I found an
announcement of one more freshly published book of your authorship,
which I hope to get through my close personal friend from
There are few reasons why I feel extremely close to Serbia
and Belgrade, and also to your books, but I wouldn't like
to list them all now. Just a few words of explanation, nothing
more than that. I'm by four years younger than you are, which
means that we are both the same generation people. I visited
Belgrade first when I was 11 years of age, stayed there for
four months, and instantaneously fell in love with the city.
And I'm one quarter Jewish, Askenazi though. Your books explain
to me Balkan emotionality, which certainly is different from
our northern one and at the same time, you explain to me Serbia
in a historical perspective of the second half of the twentieth
century. In fact, we have gone through the same bad communist
experience, even if we belonged to the so-called Soviet satellite
circle, and you pretended to be "unengaged", "democratic
the Tito fashion" etc.
Once again, I would like to very thankfully acknowledge your
brilliant literary contribution and I would like to thank
you for my personal benefit from reading them.
With best regards,
Prof. Teresa Kowalska
Institute of Chemistry University of Silesia
letters by Drazan Gunjaca
writer and playwright from Pula, Croatia
Twilight in the Balkans
Not even after three-hundred years of writing I would not
have been able to describe the coming out of the hospital
as you did... Superb description of what it means to meet
death... This novel, unlike the first two which I read and
enjoyed, triggered so much thinking. I recognize
myself in it... The ease with which you write is
present in the "Twilight" as well, but there is
a depth to it that changes the whole aspect of understanding
it... Perfect description of facing death in the
hospital, the division of "the hospital world"
and "the outside world" that scare the healthy
so much... You’ve written an excellent book... In many years
I haven’t read such a novel, a novel the characters of which
I identified with completely – I know them, I’ve seen them.
I’ve started living with your characters. Bearing in mind
what they went through, I didn’t like my life... Your novel
is so realistic, so close to life with the terrible war
as a background to the unfortunate love triangle: poor Ivan
who would like to change everything without changing anything,
Vera who tried to create a fairy tale out of reality no
matter how long the dram would last... The need of your
heroes to sail from a quiet port to the open sea some give
up earlier some later...
These confused thoughts which mean something or nothing
only indicate what a deep impression your novel has left
on me. It made me think of all my Veras and Slavkas... All
my Veras unfortunately lacked in something your Vera had,
and all my Slavkas fortunately also lacked in something
your Slavka had.
Exceptional dialogues and thoughts. Picture after
picture just follow one another – it is fresh, topical,
universal. I am sure that this novel would find its readers
everywhere in the world... All your novels are
so interesting, so readable, but this one is so good that
it irritates, brings the reader on the verge and it does
not let go... Simply, one must know how to write
such a novel and I am well aware how difficult it is.
All in all, an excellent novel! So good that for some time
I do not wish to write anything.
Ghosts over the Balkans
While in the "Twilight" you dissected yourself,
in "Ghosts" you dissected the others. The well-meaning
Vera does not have to be as full of consideration as when
she was alive, right? But as considerate as you are, you
offer the role of the leading player to Huan (Jovan) so
that even from the world beyond which you call the World
of Presences, you do not hurt those who stayed in this one,
the World of Moveable Bodies.
This is a novel abundant in deep thoughts as if you wanted
to say now everything you haven’t said and wanted to have
said in the previous three novels, but you didn’t because
it wouldn’t have fitted in.
I think that you wrote this novel with much more ease than
the "Twilight". While the "Twilight"
is the result of torturing the soul,
this one should be the result of easing the soul.
It is a very good novel in a very specific way.
Your balancing between Good and Evil is perfect – always
on the edge, fighting all odds to stay above. You
are definitely good to your characters, so much so that
you gave Ira to Ivan! A question: how come he deserved her
except because of your persistent need that goodness prevails?
Without further ado, let me quote you: "Where have
I disappeared? I to whom joy gave the reason of living,
I to whom pleasantries equaled sense, I whose playful spirit
enlightened the surrounding world, I who considered healthy
laughter an enjoyable virtue? I, led by the clumsy hand
of the almighty writer, was made to see the inside of human
nature and I fell ill of human evil."
It is a pity that I already submitted the manuscript
of my novel "The Rape of Reason", otherwise the
above citation would have made a perfect motto.
from Olga Sam
English Language Advisor
in the Balkans is the kind of novel that once
taken into hands cannot be put down. Your skillful composition
and character development indicates your literary maturity.
Still, I cannot overcome the impression that Twilight
in the Balkans is not written by the same
person as The Scent of Rain in the Balkans
and The Blossom of Linden in the Balkans.
In the center of the two previous novels is love that successfully
fights all evil, all tragic blows of destiny. In Twilight
in the Balkans it is clear that inferno is
within us and that we ourselves are those who play with
life just as life plays with us. Only those who know what
it really means to live can achieve such a philosophical
understanding of life. Your novel is many layered as well
as your characters. Every woman can find herself both in
Vera Korac and in Slavka Domazet. They create one whole...
from Dr. Katarina Babamova
Professor, Philosophical Faculty
Skopje, Macedonia, May 29, 1995.
in the Balkans is one of those unique novels
that a reader re-visits from time to time in order to thread
the already known paths of happy and sad experiences. In
the end one recognizes that each new reading equals the
previous because of old but new details that reappear in
the new light... Your novel contains as many layers as one
is ready to discover. While reading your novel I’ve become
aware (intuitively at heart and reasonably in mind) that
the energy of goodness is more powerful than all evil because
it is the energy that creates future harmony. You are a
ray of this energy, your novel a step closer to this harmony
or, at least, the delicate balance of all things.
film director and Professor at the Film Academy in Middletown,
December 21, 1992.
I read your novel The Blossom of Linden in the
Balkans in one breath, I swallowed it! I haven’t
read such a novel in a long time. It is unpretentious
in the best sense of the term, it is filled with colorful
characters, dense plot and sweetest of all in all narratives
– destinies! I enjoyed reading it because Serbian literature
as far as I know lacks in such simple, pure, noble ambitions
which are devoid of the need for "anthological values"
and "world fame".
The obvious fact that your novel is not completely fictional
does not lessen its value. On the contrary. Fiction created
from reality in this manner sounds extremely authentic and
persuasive... Your text contains something I always liked
and seldom found in literature: it possesses the feeling
of time and space. Your novel is the always necessary saga
that helps us to review our destiny in all its totality.
Certainly, this is achieved by skillful and systematical
knit of various human paths – endeavors, encounters, illnesses,
joys, births, deaths, falls and ascents. Thus the reader
identifies with the development of characters in an enjoyable
and absolute manner.
Your novel is more than attractive for a TV series. However,
I am afraid that due to the current tragic events in Yugoslavia
such a series would not be possible to make, which is the
only reason why I am not offering you immediate cooperation.
Still I am convinced that one day, probably in the
far future, your literary work will be the foundation for
a great TV series the popularity of which will empty the
streets of "our" former and current cities. Parts
of the novel or individual stories would make great material
Thank you again.
from Jeanne Smoot
Professor of Comparative Literature,
North Carolina State University September 1990.
The Scent of Rain in the Balkans
novel chronicles the life of a highly talented and indeed
fascinating Sephardic Jewish family. Since most of the major
characters are women... stressing the boldness of independent-minded
women who refused to be put down by prejudice or by the
pressures and perils of war. Still, the novel is never strident,
but human, in the best sense of the word. Indeed it is an
uplifting novel without being mawkish. Man’s inhumanity
to man continues. In fact, that, I think, is the central
message of the novel: that there will always be oppression,
there will always be unkindness, but there will always be
the human spirit to rise up against such indignities. I
am surprised that the Yugoslav critics of your book did
not focus on that central point.
What I admire about your book, and what I think any decent,
sensitive reader will respond to, is that it is not about
Jews per se, it is not only Yugoslav, but rather about all
people, and it is about importance of family, told
in a tough-minded way by a woman whose ancestors were survivors.
The Scent of Rain the Balkans is universal.
My hope and judgment are that once anyone reads your novel,
that person will, in fact, want to publish it... You have
written a fine book. It deserves to have a wider English
speaking audience... I would like to discuss the many delightful
passages and many excellences of your novel...