Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sarajevo Marlboro

Title: Sarajevo Marlboro
Author: Miljenko Jergovic
Publisher: Archipelago books
Pages: 195
Yearly Count: 22

I like books about all different countries, but books about countries during wartime many times either are filled with all the gore and no character development and the rest are obviously written by either someone who is trying to protect the reader from any wartime reality, or he/she has no idea of the devastation of a war-zone.
Sarajevo Marlboro however is one of those that I believe has the perfect amount of character development, and the author allows the characters to analyze the wartime situation with truth and real feelings. To be honest I don't know a lot about the situation in Sarajevo in the mid 90's, and I don't know much about it now, but I felt that I got a glimpse of accurate social history through Sarajevo Marlboro.

Miljenko Jergovic creates 29 short stories during the time of war (Serbs, Croats and Muslims). The humans, real citizens, they were the focus, humanity was centre stage and war was exploding all around them as they lived on, or did not. I was captivated because I admired their strength, determination and perseverance. It is through them Jergovic depicts the scene and the gruesome tale of war. Weather you believe in war, or don't it is happening currently and has been going on all over for generations and generations. This for me was the human side, the side that often lies hidden under death tolls and arguments as to if there really should be a war or not. The portrayal of humanity, from so many different perspectives is demonstrated in Sarajevo Marlboro. Since the author chose to jump from this life to that, and this family to that you feel like you are allowed in, and become part of them for the time when Jergovic is telling their story, they engulf you, you care about them you fear for them, you grieve for them, and you hope for a better future for those who have now become your friends.

For me personally the way Jergovic chose to write these stories made the book, if he would have tried to encapsulate the entire picture of devastation in one shot, or the horror of war in just one image there would have been no way that a person who had not been there would be able to tolerate reading the gruesomeness of the truth. Because he chose to drop the reader in on 29 different families, 29 different situations, and 29 different glimpses of the war it felt broken up enough to allow the terror to enter in bit by bit. All the stories together form a whole, they are a complete and gruesome picture of war, but in the eyes of the people there is also so much hope, and life that it is somehow made more bearable. I saw their determination to live, and dreams of a different future.

Here is a little excerpt from the inside cover about the author Miljenko Jergovic:
"Croatian by birth, Jergovic spent his childhood in Sarajevo and chose to remain there throughout most of the war. A dazzling storyteller, he brings a profoundly human, razor-sharp understanding of the fate of the city's young Muslims, Croats, Serbs with a subterranean humor and profoundly personal vision. Their offbeat lives and daily dramas in the foreground, the killing zone in the background."

I loved this book, and can't wait to get another one of Miljenko Jergovic's titles in my hands. I am captivated by his writing style and the heart that is is obvious that he has for his people.


Nicole said...

This book sounds moving. Is it fiction or are the stories based on real families?

bethany said...

It is fiction, but he is drawing from real life situations, as he did live in Sarajevo during the war.

It is incredible! A very powerful book.

Trish said...

One thing I've loved about this challenge is learning about the different cultures. I always thought that my knowledge was pretty well-rounded but the more I read the more I realize I have no idea what is going on in the world! Sounds like a fascinating book--glad you liked it so much.