Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly``I come from a destroyed country,'' writes Karahasan, a Bosnian Muslim, in this collection of short pieces that range from elegiac meditations on Sarajevo to reflections on adjusting to life with snipers and shelling. Although translated with a clunkiness that is sadly characteristic of many Eastern European works published here, Karahasan's account is often quietly devastating. Whether he is sketching the 500-year history of Sarajevo or describing the Hotel Europa-which he calls the ``physical and semantic center'' of the city, the nexus where the city's Turkish and Austro-Hungarian sectors meet-his observations are precise and compelling. Not convincing, however, is the lengthy ``Literature and War,'' in which Karahsan claims that ``bad literature, or misuse of the literary craft, is responsible'' for the destruction of his country. In ``An Argument with a Frenchman,'' the transcendental-minded Karahasan describes a frustrating meeting with a more practical-minded French visitor. In Karahasan's more detached and elliptical analytical forays, even the most interested readers may sympathize with the Frenchman, unable to understand the Karahasan's plight or that of his country. (Nov.)
Library JournalThe literature of outrage continues to pour forth from Bosnia and the rest of the former Yugoslavia. These two new books offer poignant personal essays on the destruction of a civilized and once-hopeful region. Debeljak, an important Slovenian poet, combines philosophical detachment and eyewitness experience in his analysis of the Yugoslavian tragedy. He recalls a time of hope and change in the early 1980s but now holds little hope for rebirth of multiculturalism and tolerance in his country. Karahasan's memoir of life inside the doomed city of Sarajevo is an extraordinarily powerful appeal to the Western world. Using a technique similar to that of Zlato Dizdarevic in Sarajevo: A War Journal (LJ 12/93), Karahasan, a Bosnian Muslim playwright, presents a series of unforgettable vignettes of daily life, interwoven with historical commentary. He, too, mourns the loss of tolerance and pluralism in his land. In an afterword, Slavenka Drakuli'c (Balkan Express, LJ 4/15/93) compares his approach to Primo Levi's writings on the Holocaust. Both books are highly recommended for public and academic libraries.-Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, Pa.
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >