Arts and Entertainment

A road trip that is as illuminating as it is incomplete made by a traveller, warrior, and jewelled stylist

Album: Miloš;The Guitar, (Deutsche Grammophon)

Montenegrin guitarist Miloš Karadaglic was a child prodigy who became a star of Yugoslavian TV and radio in his teens before studying at London's Royal Academy, where he received the Julian Bream Award from the celebrated guitar legend himself – a passing-on of the torch which bears its first fruit with this striking debut album.

Three debuts make the Orange Prize shortlist

Three first-time novelists tackling macabre subjects – the aftermath of conflict in the Balkans, a love affair in a mental institution, and the story of a hermaphrodite baby called Wayne – feature in this year's shortlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Leading article: Balkan talks are a quiet triumph for the EU

The European Union's ability to unite in pursuit of agreed foreign policy goals is often underrated in Britain, where failures are seized on and successes ignored or taken for granted. But the start this week in Brussels of the first face-to-face talks between Kosovo and Serbia is undoubtedly a triumph for EU "soft power". Neither side would normally wish to have anything to do with the other were it not for the EU's insistent diplomacy over the past few years. Quite simply, the shared desire of Serbs and Kosovar Albanians to join the European club overrides almost all other considerations – even those legendary Balkan hatreds.

Chris Cviic: Broadcaster and writer who became a leading expert on Yugoslavia and the Balkans

Chris Cviic was a writer and broadcaster who became a leading expert on the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans. Born in Croatia, the son of a businessman, he settled in Britain in 1954. His career took him to the BBC World Service, to St Antony's College, Oxford, to Chatham House and finally to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which promotes foreign investment and economic reform in former communist countries.

Europe's biker gangs set on a collision course with the police

In the middle of May this year, thousands of leather-clad bikers from across the Balkans gathered in the Croatian town of Slavonski Brod for a bash celebrating the unbridled joy that comes from tearing up the open road on a powerful two-wheeled hog.

The Accident, By Ismail Kadare, trans. John Hodgson

Ismail Kadare is a novelist of the grand manner who sees himself in a line from Shakespeare and Dante, and a modernist fabulist who by allegory and metaphor has nimbly laid bare the ironies and idiocies of recent Balkan experience. His belief that the best jokes are the old ones – cruelty, jealousy, selfishness, intolerance – place him in a long line of European satirists. Because of where he comes from, satire may flip into tragedy. "Everywhere in the world events flow noisily, while their deep currents pull silently," he writes in his new novel, "but nowhere is this contrast so striking as in the Balkans."

Album: Various artists, Balkan Fever London (Kazum / Grand Queen)

Sometimes UK-based global acts get a rough deal because what's on your doorstep somehow isn't "exotic" enough for the world-music purists.

Album: Moulettes, Moulettes (Balling the Jack)

Moulettes are an oddity even among the diverse ranks of the new folk boom, with the constant presence of Ruth Skipper's bassoon giving their sound a little of the flavour of 1970s early-music chamber-folkies Gryphon.

How the 'Borat of the Balkans' hit the big time

A YouTube video has turned a labourer into an unlikely hero uniting the former Yugoslavia

Spies of the Balkans, By Alan Furst

Alan Furst has done this century what Eric Ambler and John le Carré did in the last. He has achieved a complete reinvention of the Second World War spy novel as a vehicle for deeper insights into the human character, especially as it come under the pressure of accelerating history. Spies of the Balkans is the latest of his page-turners about the coming threat of Nazism and German occupation in the regions of Europe that were neither immediately conquered like France or Poland, nor which held out like Britain. The impact of the war on the Iberian peninsular, or on those central European countries like Switzerland, Hungary and Romania which tried to stay aloof from the conflict, remains little-known.

Album: Amira and Merima Kljuco, Zumra (World Village)

This album's roots lie deep in the Balkan tradition of sevdah, the urban folk music of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which touches on sadness, but is mostly about making love by moonlight.

Marko Prelec: This trial won't make anything better – but it must go ahead

Radovan Karadzic’s long and strange career – from Sarajevo psychiatrist to nationalist leader to breakaway president, honoured guest at international peace talks from Geneva to New York to the HMS Invincible, anchored in the Adriatic sea; from the International Criminal Tribunal’s first high-profile indictee, already in the summer of 1995, to fugitive from justice, to bushy-bearded new-age healer in the Belgrade suburbs – takes its last turn today as the ICTY prosecutor calls his first witnesses against him. This day has been long in coming.

Album: Balkan Beat Box, Blue Eyed Black Boy (Crammed Discs)

This New York trio have been producing deftly programmed global fusion for more than five years now, but it's on this third album that their songwriting skills finally measure up to their studio craft.

Tirana: A city struggling to reach year zero

Albania was declared a capitalist state in 1992, but its leading city still has a lot of catching up to do if it's to make it on to the European tourist's map.

Album: Portico Quartet, Isla (Real World)

Forget the ex-buskers' Mercury-nominated debut. With Isla, produced by John Leckie, Portico have found their mojo: a thrumming, intensely textured and dynamic sound flowing between sax, bass, drums and hang. (Looks like a wok, sounds like a steel drum.)

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