Immigrant Blues, an extension and deepening of the famous poems of the siege of Sarajevo translated in Simic's Sprinting from the Graveyard (Oxford, 1997), explores the personal and the public devastations of war, especially its effects on the emotions, thoughts and memories of exiled survivors. Simic's genius is to present this disturbing reality in terms so vigorous and humane that pain is mixed with the solace and pleasure of great art.
Open the doors, the guests are coming
some of them burned by the sun, some of them pale
but every one with suitcases made of human skin.
If you look carefully at the handles, fragile as birds' spines,
you will find your own fingerprints, your mother's tears,
your grandpa's sweat.
The rain just started. The world is grey.
from "Open the Door"
"The brilliance of these poems lies in their detail, their lack of rhetoric, and their passion." — Helen Dunmore, reviewing Sprinting from the Graveyard in The Observer
"Goran Simic has written with tact and restraint in daunting and provocative conditions. The fact that his terrifying testimony seems more whispered than screamed is part of its power." — Denis O'Driscoll, on Sprinting from the Graveyard in The Times Literary Supplement
"Immigrant Blues is his Canadian debut — a remarkable one, powerful and unsettling ... a register of losses, pain, and struggle delivered in a soft-spoken, underplayed style laced with irony." — Barbara Carey, The Toronto Star
"Immigrant Blues ... [argues] passionately against the generalizing engines that drive the twin atrocities of militarism and amnesia. [He] has carried out his responsibility, and has done us a profound service, by sharing his testimony. It is now our privilege and responsibility to listen to him." — Warren Heiti, The Fiddlehead