The Suitcase: Refugee Voices from Bosnia and Croatia / Edition 1

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The whirlwind of Europe's longest war in half a century has produced this powerful collection of personal narratives—essays, letters, and poems—from refugees fleeing Bosnia and Croatia. Taking us behind the barrage of media coverage, these stories tell of perseverance, brutality, forced departure, exile, and courage. With startling immediacy and in moving detail, speakers tell of stuffing a few belongings—a handful of photographs, a rock from the garden, a change of clothes—into a suitcase and fleeing their homeland. Contributors from all ethnic groups and every region of Bosnia and Croatia describe their sense of lost community, memories of those left behind, recollections of town squares that no longender exist, and homes now occupied by neighbors. The editors of The Suitcase, themselves representing the diverse peoples of the region, traveled to camps and temporary homes across the globe to collect these stories. An antidote to apathy, this work moves beyond and outside the vicissitudes of daily politics to portray the human tragedy at the center of present-day Bosnia and Croatia. Probing the intimate losses of countless individuals, it delivers a powerful indictment of injustice, militarism, prejudice, and warfare.

Author Biography: Julie Mertus is a Fulbright scholar, human rights activist, and Professor of law in Bucharest, Romania. Jasmina Tesanovic is a writer and publisher in Belgrade, Serbia. Habiba Metikos was a lawyer in Sarajevo; she now lives in Canada. Rada Boric is a Director of the Center for Women War Victims in Zagreb, Croatia. Cornel West is Professor of African American Studies at Harvard University and author of Race Matters (1993),among many other books.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this anthology, refugees from the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia tell their stories to relief workers. More than 75 individuals were interviewed in refugee camps from Pakistan to Canada or in their new homes. Predominantly but not exclusively Bosnian Muslims and mostly women who left Bosnia between spring 1992 and late 1995, they tell stories grouped into five areas: leaving home, dreams of return, daily life in a camp, children's stories, and starting over in a new country. Concluding essays by the editors discuss the relief needs of women, specifically in terms of Muslim women as refugees; conditions afflicting all refugees (regardless of origin or ethnic identity); and the duration of the refugee crisis in the former Yugoslavia. This collection is similar to Anna Cataldi's Letters from Sarajevo (LJ 6/15/94) in its multiple stories, each contributing to the mosaic.Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., New York
School Library Journal
YAThis collection of memoirs provides a stirring and disturbing picture of what reality is all about for those people fleeing the disaster of Bosnia and Croatia. Divided into five sections, the translated accounts of the real victims of the war add lasting images to those seen on television or captured in photographs. The suitcase contains some 75 stories of these people, mostly women and children, as they flee the war-zone conditions, long for home, settle into life as refugees or displaced persons, and attempt to make a new life away from all they had formerly known. A one-line description of the narrator (age, name, and location) precedes each selection, and a short afterword explains or extends the individual story. Because of the oppressive topic, this collection is difficult to read from cover to cover; however, it serves as excellent primary-source material for any research on conditions in the former Yugoslavia or on refugees throughout the world. The narratives are readable; a single black-and-white map at the front includes many of the towns, villages, and cities cited in the text. Photographs confirm the devastating state of life for these individuals.Dottie Kraft, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520206342
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 1/20/1997
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 267
  • Sales rank: 431,703
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Mertus was a Fulbright scholar, human rights activist, and Professor of Law in Bucharest, Romania. She is now Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at American University. Jasmina Tesanovic is a writer and publisher in Belgrade, Serbia. Habiba Metikos was a lawyer in Sarajevo; she now lives in Canada. Rada Boric is a Director of the Center for Women War Victims in Zagreb, Croatia. Cornel West is Professor of African American Studies at Harvard University and author of Race Matters (1993), among many other books.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Journey Out 21
Dreams Of Home 71
Everyday Refugee Life 99
Children's Voices 133
Starting Life Anew 161
The ABCs of Exile 197
The Face of Women Refugees from Muslim Communities: Algeria to Ex-Yugoslavia 205
Beyond the Balkans 213
This Is Not War Talk 229
Notes on Contributors 235
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