Tag Archive > Yugoslavia

The Tenth Circle of Hell

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The Tenth Circle of Hell by Rezak Hukanovic, book reviewThe Tenth Circle of Hell by Rezak Hukanovic is an eye-witness account of life in the death camps of Bosnia, where Serbs locked up Croats and Muslims and subjected them to the must unimaginable atrocities. It was first published in 1993, the year after most of the events that it describes took place and it has since been translated many times into many languages. It’s one of the most shocking books I’ve ever read but one I feel compelled to recommend and advise others to read. We should not forget that things like this happened in Europe, in a place where western Europeans took cheap package summer holidays and where the people killing each other looked like us, ate like us, sang like us, lived in houses like ours and got up in the morning to go to jobs like those we did.

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The Tiger’s Wife

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The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht, book reviewReading The Tiger’s Wife it’s hard to believe not only that this is Tea Obreht’s debut novel, but that she is still only twenty five years old; she writes with such an air of wisdom that one would think that this was the work of a much more experienced writer. In fact, Obreht has been named as one of The New Yorker’s Top Writers Under 40 and she’s actually the youngest of those nominated.

In The Tiger’s Wife Obreht demonstrates why she’s come in for such praise. It’s an immediately gripping novel that effortlessly mixes a contemporary story with ancient folklore. The story set in an unspecified – or possibly fabricated – Balkan country

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Danilo Kiš: Mittel Man

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Over 20 years ago, on October 15, 1989, Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš succumbed to lung cancer in Paris, France. He was only 54 when he died.

Among the works Kiš left behind included a form-bending prose triptych — Garden, Ashes (1965), Early Sorrows (1970) and Hourglass (1972) — two masterworks of short fiction — A Tomb for Boris Davidovich (1976) and Encyclopedia of the Dead (1983) — and a string of dazzling polemical essays and interviews about his own work (some of which were translated into English and published in 1995 as Homo Poeticus).

Danilo KišThe early death of one of Europe’s humane and powerful literary voices was a tragedy for literature. But history suggests that the timing of the Kiš’ passing was – at least in one aspect – merciful. Kiš did not witness the engulfment of Yugoslavia in the blood-soaked tide of competing nationalisms that he so thoroughly despised and belittled.

After all, witness was at the center of Kiš’ literary works, which grappled with the worst of Europe’s mid-20th Century horrors: Nazism and Stalinism.

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Fools Rush In

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Fools Rush In By (author) Bill Carter“‘A Dante’s Inferno’ for the MTV generation” – Bono’s verdict on Bill Carter’s “Fools Rush In“. Not much of a recommendation for me; sounds like a load of pompous rubbish. For years my opinion of Bono has swayed from ‘short-arsed rock singer’ to ‘head up his own arse rock singer’ but for one positive interlude somewhere in the middle. This respite (for which Bono no doubt thanks me profusely!) is the subject of “Fools Rush In”.

When American Bill Carter found himself needing some excitement he managed to get himself a place on one of the volunteer aid convoys taking food and medical relief into the besieged town of Sarajevo during the bitter war in the former Yugoslavia.

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Arabian Nights from Yugoslavia

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“A Partisan’s Daughter” – Louis de Bernieres Stuck in a boring and loveless marriage to a wife he now calls “The Great White Loaf”, medical rep, Chris, finally decides – after years thinking about it – to pick up a prostitute. As he drives around North London one night, he spots Roza ands pulls up along side the pavement. Roza isn’t a working girl but something about Chris and his sincere apology makes her get in the car anyway and ask Chris to drive her home. Touched by Chris’s embarrassment Roza decides that he’s not like other men and as she gets out of the car she makes an open invitation for Chris to drop by for coffee, but not before telling him that he couldn’t have afforded her anyway – when she WAS a prostitute she used to charge £500.

A few weeks later (having started hiding a fiver away here and there behind his wife’s back) Chris knocks at the door of the ramshackle house that Roza shares with a bunch of drop-outs, hippies and would-be actors.

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