Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 25, 2021

Featured author: Filip Vukašin and his new novel Modern Marriage

Here’s another author who’s taking up my offer to spruik the books of Australian authors whose MWF events were cancelled:

Filip Vukašin is a Melbourne doctor whose debut novel Modern Marriage is being published in September by Melbourne Indie publisher Affirm Press, and there’s much to enjoy in this entertaining, escapist novel that draws from Fil’s personal experiences as a GP and cosmetic surgeon, a gay man, and a first generation Serbian-Australian.

Here’s a short video from Fil talking about the book — and, says his publicist Laura, “to give you a sense of his great charisma!

Photo credit: Matthew Cooksey

Filip Vukašin emerges as a major new talent in contemporary Australian fiction with Modern Marriage, a compelling domestic drama that will be loved by fans of Liane Moriarty and Christos Tsiolkas.

Ever the high achiever, Fil wrote the first draft of his debut novel on his phone during lunch breaks from his work as a GP as an alternative to doom-scrolling the news.  The result is a scintillating escapist read that draws from Fil’s real-life experiences as a doctor, cosmetic surgeon and gay man, set against the backdrop of the turbulent 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite.

Modern Marriage follows Klara, a cosmetic physician who seemingly has it all: great job, devoted husband, plush house and wrinkle-free face. The only thing to elude her is having a baby. So when her husband Dante is found unconscious in a gay sauna, Klara’s life is thrown into disarray as her husband’s situation exposes cracks in her friendships, family and, most pointedly, her sense of self.

These are some of the issues that are explored in the novel:

• Ingrained prejudice and inequality: Set during the 2017 plebiscite, Modern Marriage draws heavily on Filip’s own experience as a gay man. The campaign was devastating for many Australians and Filip doesn’t shy away from that in the book. He also draws upon his experience coming from a conservative cultural background.
• Healthcare experience: Fil knows what it’s like being a cosmetic surgeon to the rich elite. In addition, the seeds of the novel were sown when Fil heard a male patient had died while in a gay sauna. ‘It led me to wonder what a sudden tragedy like that would do to the family members left behind, particularly if he was there secretly,’ he said.
• Write who you know: Fil has said there’s much of himself in his characters, as well as elements of other people in his life. The protagonist Klara is a cosmetic physician and for some of her work scenes Fil has fictionalised some aspects of his career. Her colleague Tomas is an immigrant, and his storyline shares similarities with Fil’s own past. Rachel is Klara’s sister-in-law, a nosy, self-important psychologist who is a hyperbolic amalgamation of ‘god-complex’ health workers Fil has have come across in his work as a doctor.
• Scratch the surface: Modern Marriage peels away the makeup, Botox, designer clothes and visual merchandising of a life to expose raw secrets, ingrained prejudice and the gap between perception and truth. It’s a fascinating (and wildly entertaining) examination of contemporary relationships, and the veneer of perfection we all project every day, whether it be on social media or otherwise. Klara can’t bear to speak about Dante’s suspected homosexuality, even with her own best friend who is himself gay, for fear of what people will think – but keeping this secret locked up exposes the cracks in Klara’s sense of self.

Many thanks to Laura McNicol Smith who’s the Publicity Manager at Affirm Press for her help with content for this post.  She tells me that Fil with his husband and young son have just returned to Australia from the US where their twin baby girls were born by surrogacy. They got to spend some precious days together with the surrogate herself before flying home and entering hotel quarantine with two newborns and a toddler…

As Laura says, if we feel like whinging about lockdown, we should stop and imagine what what that must be like!


  1. This sounds really interesting. I’ll look out for it and see if it’s available in the UK.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am often confused by writers being compared to other writers. I suppose it helps with sales but I’m not sure if it does writers any great favours.
    It does sound interesting though and I love that little clip and the book cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean… comparisons to some authors put me off altogether.

      Liked by 1 person

    • A propos Karenlee’s point, I would at least write “loved by fans of Liane Moriarty OR Christos Tsiolkas”! I wonder how many readers are fans of BOTH these. Still I can see that the subject matter is perhaps relevant to both those authors.

      Also, I seem to remember in a discussion of book reviewing cliches, one being the idea of one author “channelling” another.

      Anyhow, I will remember this author whenever I start to let lockdown get me down. Right now though, I feel, just two weeks in, I have no right to let it get me down (yet anyhow)!

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL I’m not interested in either of them so it didn’t occur to me to notice the ‘and/or’.
        But oh dear, that discussion around book reviewing clichés paralysed me for a while… I’m glad I can’t remember what they were now!
        Lockdown is different for everybody, and one thing to know (from a veteran of lockdowns) is that it’s the first few days and weeks that are hard because you haven’t found the strategies that work for you. But as time goes by, you’ll find a routine and a rhythm and what your priorities are in terms of connecting with others. (At first you ring everyone, but you can’t—and shouldn’t—keep that up). You’ll find a range of activities to fill your day (substitutes for what you usually do and adaptations for ones you can maintain) and you’ll get a routine going for that essential exercise, outside if you can. And there comes a point where you stop thinking about when it will end and just accept that this is just how it is for now and you can’t do anything about that but you can control how you react to it. (Like people had to during The Blitz).
        *See one beautiful thing every day. (Jennifer posts lovely views from her daily walk on FB. Who knows how many people are sustained by that, eh?)
        *Read something interesting every day.
        *Eat something nice every day.
        *Listen to some music that you love every day.
        And if you can, try to have a long term project that you’ve been meaning to do that enables you to have a sense of achievement, something where you can see your progress because that ameliorates that sense that your life is being wasted. Mine has been to scrapbook all the houses I’ve ever lived in, and I was completely discombobulated when I broke my wrist and couldn’t do it any more, but I pivoted (as they say) and have been using Duolingo to revise all the languages I’ve ever learned. It’s good because you can count the number of topics and lessons you’ve completed.
        Hang in there!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for all this Lisa. These are great ideas. We are actually going ok, partly I think because, with our kids in Melbourne, we’ve thought about strategies and what we’d do – a lot! So we have pretty much swung into it. My main project is to get back into decluttering, starting with my University notes from the 70s. They can’t move with me again! My other project is cataloguing our digital photographs. Mr Gums is getting into our digital photographs from his angle … which is more the technical management and backing up.

          The main thing you say here that we haven’t fully implemented, though we have done a bit of it and want to do more, is the music one. I think that’s great advice. Music is so therapeutic isn’t it.

          I often think, when people whinge about the lockdowns, about the world wars and the years of deprivations and limitations people lived under. This really brings what’s happening to us into perspective doesn’t it? Not to mention people living for years in refugee camps.

          I know, though, that lockdowns are materially easier for some of us which must help us mentally too? Nonetheless, there is still a mental element for us all, isn’t there … I’m learning, as I think you are implying, that we have to learn to be in the moment rather than in waiting mode to be free again? I have to try hard not to become distressed about when I’ll see the kids again. I know you understand that too.

          BTW Scrapbooking the houses you lived in is a great project. Do you listen to music when you are (were) doing that?

          Liked by 1 person

          • I was pleased to see today that the NSW presser today included a mental health specialist who talked about the importance of recovery and how to start towards it. Unfortunately the ABC hasn’t kept the clip with just him in it open and all there is, is a summary of the presser. I wanted to watch it again because it had such good advice.
            Try this: start at 18:08
            Scrapbooking? yes to music, and also to TV series that don’t require much concentration. But also often just silence. Silence is one of my favourite things…


            • Yes, I saw that too … this week NSW seems to be bringing out different medical specialists, presumably hoping that people might listen to them? I will check it out again, so thanks for the link, because as you say he was very good. I thought their solution to the “promise” to do something if they got to 6 million “jabs” (hate that word) was good, because they clearly, really, could not open up in any major way but doing something that might help mental health is good?

              Haha yes, series that need little concentration. On Wednesdays, we are watching reruns of A touch of Frost. On commercial tv but we record and watch later so we can skip the ads. It is such a well-written show.

              And, I agree, silence isn’t bad either!


              • I enjoyed *eavesdropping* on your convo there Lisa and Sue. I wonder if either of you have seen Pluto Living? The little dog’s Mum is a wildlife photographer but, during lockdown, she started this you tube channel – it all went viral on FB – and it really does bring a smile to your dial when you can’t get out and about and do the things you normally would. Canadians tend to share our sense of humour so it sure did work for me.

                Liked by 1 person

                • No, Karenlee, I didn’t, but I will check it out. We need some smiles.

                  Liked by 2 people

  3. Haha, and then I’m trying to correct *though*


  4. And straight onto my library list. For one day, the library will reopen …

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it will, and even before that they’ll find a way to do click-and-collect:)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds like an amusing book that would be perfect for certain moments. I’ll keep an eye open for it. Very amusing author video!
    I’m always in awe by anyone who manages to write a novel. Finishing one while working as a doctor is truly impressive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree entirely. The novel is my favourite form of reading, and the only problem with that is that it takes some years of me impatiently tapping my foot for those authors to come up with a new one.

      Liked by 1 person

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