Sebastijan Pregelj’s award-winning novel, In Elvis’s Room, tells the turbulent story of Slovenian independence from the perspective of Jan, an only child growing up in Ljubljana.
Jan’s life in 1980s Yugoslavia is idyllic, filled with family outings, Star Wars, and good friends. But as Jan gets older, and the ties that have held together Yugoslavia begin to tatter, the contours of life change. He and his friends, Elvis and Peter, are bullied walking to and from school, because Elvis is Muslim and Peter is a bookworm.
The friends stand by one another, strengthening not only their friendships but those of the families, particularly Elvis’s. Jan spends many happy hours with Elvis’s family, but then he is called up for military service and good times are replaced with whispers about religion and purges.
In Elvis’s Room confronts history—both its beauty and horror—without hiding anything, and in doing so tells a highly nuanced, emotionally-charged story about living with memories from a country that no longer exists and what it requires of individuals to carry that immense weight.