Bazhe's life from the start was troubled. His biological mother was a 15-year-old girl
brutally raped by a Yugoslav government official. Her family refused to accept that she
was raped, so infant Bazhe was placed in an orphanage. Another government official and
his wife adopted him. Bazhe's adoptive parents seemed mostly concerned by social
status. His father was both physically and sexually abusive, while his mother, so
concerned about appearances, was unwittingly emotionally
Damages shows how people who grow up in oppressed
societies were dehumanized. Women were brutalized. Homosexuality was not tolerated.
Bazhe discovered his homosexuality at a fairly young age. His first love, Rambo,
betrayed him and ultimately caused him to be kicked out of the university/military
academy that he attended.
He described the fall of the Soviet Union and
the rise of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism that lead to slaughters in places
like the former Yugoslavia. Extreme paranoia and distress existed between members of
different ethnic groups. Bazhe witnessed the collapse of Tito's Yugoslavia and
eventually fled the country.
Yet Bazhe, in his nostalgia for his
childhood, said that Americans are cold and do not enjoy life. But considering how the
"warm-hearted" Slavs slaughtered each other and the major abuses he suffered in his
family, perhaps his idea of what is warm and cold needs to be revisited.
major theme of the book, particularly in the early parts, seems to be the dishonesty in
Yugoslav society created by past oppression, including that of Tito. People were not
able to tell each other unpleasant things, even though hiding the truth and lying merely
wasted everyone's time. One exception was Nurse Rodna. Though she certainly acted
entirely in her own self interest, Nurse Rodna cut to the core of all of the deceptions
and exposed the full truth to all those in Bazhe's life. She and Lena (a friend of
Bazhe's mother) appeared to be the most honest people around.
Damages gives an excellent look into the horrific world of Bazhe's life
in the Balkans, and at the end, you'll be more than happy to escape with him to America.
Check out Bazhe's site at www.bazhe.com