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Shards: A Novel Paperback – October 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat; Original edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170811
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #841,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

* A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
* A Chicago Sun-Times Best Book of the Year
* An Oregonian Top 10 Northwest Book of the Year
* Shortlisted for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award and the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize
* Winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction
* Winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award

"Impressive . . . Inventive . . . Pushes against convention, logic, chronology . . . Ambitious and deep . . . [Prcic] succeeds at writing an unsettling and powerful novel."
The New York Times Book Review

"Fierce, funny and real, it also says much about war, exile, guilt and fear."
Chicago Sun Times, Favorite books of 2011

"Prcic captures the insanity of war and its unceasing aftermath."
Publishers Weekly

"A playful but heartfelt debut . . . Brightly detailed . . . [Prcic is] a spirited, soulful talent."
Kirkus Reviews

"Brilliant . . . With verbal glee, Prcic serves up a darkly comic vision of the terrors and misunderstandings of immigration. Tight, glorious little tales-within-tales abound, rattled off with a quick, artless naturalism. . . . The writing is packed with one original metaphor after another, language that's almost drunk with colorful, startling images. . . . Brimming with scraps of memory, regrets, and rationalizations, Shards leaves an indelible scar on the reader's imagination. Prcic has pieced together a young man's story from the torn and exploded remains of his former life, and the sheer power of his language leaves the reader shaken."
—Shelf Awareness

"Brutally vivid."
The Oregonian

"The experience of reading Shards—the deliberate disorientation, the layering and morphing of events that characterize the book—reveals in a more visceral way what it might be like to live always with a full awareness of the tenuousness of civil society, of the terrible precariousness of calm."
St. Louis Beacon

"Compelling, sensual detail . . . Prcic’s prose is effective both at delineating the psychological nuances of his characters, and the sometimes-dodgy circumstances of the outside world. . . . There is a strain of dark humor running throughout, and an elastic joy in storytelling and linguistic expression that prevents this from being a simple recitation of atrocities and pain. . . . Well-written and thought-provoking . . . The story it tells is as unique and individual as the author who penned it."
PopMatters

"Experimental and brutal and heart-wrenching . . . You just give in to it, as you do when reading someone like Faulkner. . . . What makes Shards so compelling is, first of all, the language . . . which has an almost ferocious beauty. Secondly, and as important, is the organization of the book, which gives it a sense of urgency. . . . Ismet's confusion is so vivid that it becomes ours, making us participants in this story. . . . To have had such a life when you are so young is hard to convey without becoming sentimental or pathetic, yet Prcic has done it brilliantly."
The Arts Fuse

"Innovative in form and startling in its storytelling, Shards is a brilliant debut novel from Ismet Prcic."
Largehearted Boy

"Ismet Prcic has taken apart the complexities of war, love, family and home and scattered them across a novel that is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful. Shards is an original work of art, brutal and honest, and absolutely unforgettable."
—Dinaw Mengestu, author of How to Read the Air

"Ismet Prcic's prose is a gleaming pinball kept in inexhaustible play, kinetically suspended in time and space, endlessly flung away from its inevitable ending, colliding with memory and invention. This is writing fed by skill, inertia, horror, and sorrow, a survivor's story of triumph and guilt. Yet Prcic's sensibility is at once brutally and tenderly comic. Humanity seems to run deepest among those who have survived its near-absence in the world."
—Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury and Aliens in the Prime of their Lives

"A brilliant debut that manages to be both experimental and emotionally resonant. Comparisons to that other Bosnian-American writer, Aleksandar Hemon, will be unavoidable, but Prcic’s work is completely and wholly his own. Shards will come to be seen as the definitive novel of the Bosnian war and its resultant diaspora."
—Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust

"This novel moves at light speed, with shattering immediacy, through the parallel universe lives of two young Bosnian men—who may, in fact, be one person. Like fear, it will make you open your ears."
—Rae Armantrout, author of Versed

"The reason this novel is so good, hard, beautiful, and disturbing is that there is more than one Ismet delivering the many sharp pieces. Shards feels like a primary document torn from life by a powerful new talent."
—Ron Carlson, author of The Signal and Five Skies

"A passionate heart beats in these pages devoted to the reassembling of a life sundered by war. Ismet Prcic’s debut novel Shards is an outsized, outrageous, outstanding performance."
—Christine Schutt, author of All Souls

"[A] heartbreaking, rude, surprisingly compassionate, and still violent story about a Bosnian refuge who is trying to make sense of his new life in southern California . . . You're not going to find many sentences in any book, anywhere, like the sentences you find here. . . . Prcic makes use of preposterous and somehow dead-on analogies and allusions, profanities and profundities. He celebrates the hieroglyphs of punctuational tics, smears words, elevates typefaces, deploys footnotes, diary entries, memoirisms, blasphemy, theater, treachery, vulgarisms, and it works. . . . This book cannot be explained. It is to be experienced. Sentence by sentence, scene by scene."
—Beth Kephart

"I read the book with my mother, we were laughing, we read passages to each other, we said: Look, it’s giving me goose bumps, and then mother was crying quietly, and I thought: What a great book, what it is doing to us!"
—Saša Stanišic, author of How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
Very vell presented story or memoir.
Ivo Marguc
This book is full of memories of battle torn Bosnia.
francine schnereger
A great mixture of the novel and memoir forms.
Tom Dredge

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Lakis Fourouklas on September 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
The author is a Bosnian-American. As we read in his website he used to be just a Bosnian, but then he learned some English and they gave him a piece of paper that said that he now was an American. However, if we are to judge from this novel that comes out next week in the US, we'd say that he truly and simply is a writer from the Balkans, since in this he talks about all the big issues facing the region: the civil wars and the refugees, immigration and religion, which tends to bring people apart instead of together.
His narration moves in a handful of parallel levels and takes the reader on a time travelling journey, in order to make him understand in a unique way how his story, or rather history works.
The main characters are just two: Ismet and Mustafa. But does Mustafa really exist or is he just a fabrication, someone created in the imagination of Ismet? Well, according to the story he does exist, but bits and pieces of evidence we encounter once in a while seem to indicate the opposite, or rather that he's just the alter ego of the narrator. Ismet has never been to war, has never fought, while Mustafa has; Ismet has travelled abroad, while Mustafa has not; Ismet is alive, while Mustafa is dead. Or is he now?
The author by creating a complicated plot he seems to play with the reader and with time, to abolish boundaries, to built certainties just to bring them crashing down, and to say that everything is possible, even that which is most improbable. His two heroes seem to complement each other, to subconsciously bring their beings together in order to create the ideal, under the dire circumstances, man; a man that loves a lot and hates just as much; that struggles and who runs away scared; that dreams of a beautiful life but constantly flirts with death.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
Shards employs a non-standard narrative structure. If you don't like your novels jumping around in time, you'll probably dislike it. Also, the f-word is used many, many times, though seldom gratuitously, since his main characters are mired both in wartime Bosnia and teenage/young adult-hood, so it's authentic in that way. Hopefully my review will entice the right sort of reader to appreciate what the talented author has written, and will scare off the rest of you so you don't come back complaining that no one warned you, or that it was "boring." (Wish Amazon would block THAT word from reviews)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By holly.hill55 on January 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the darkest book I have read since 'The Last Stand of Mr. America'. This being said it is absolutely fabulous and a must read. Gripping, thought provoking and emotional this book will have you reading until the end still wondering and thinking. I picked this up at the library knowing nothing about it and I am so glad I did. This should be read and discussed in our high schools and college English classes. If you have any reservations about buying/reading this book don't. It is fantastic and you will be glad you .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ivo Marguc on November 2, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very vell presented story or memoir. It shaws how war can quickly change people against each other. Brothers yesterday,enemies today.He made it, he was lucky. Very good reading!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on November 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Read the book after a review in NYT and was very pleasantly surprised. It is disconnected in parts but falls in place as you read.
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Format: Paperback
With its vivid prose and compelling story, this book is compulsively readable. At times I laughed out loud, and then winced at what I'd found hilarious. No words were wasted on pathos or rhetoric - the book moves too quickly, and too honestly, for that. The unflinching clarity of the book was sometimes daunting, but an underlying humanity, a tenderness of spirit, made it bearable. The story has been splintered into shards, and I had to trust that the writer could pull it all together by the end of the book. And he did, as much as a story like this can be "pulled together,' or "make sense," and still be an honest account. I had the feeling that the splintering of the story wasn't a writer's trick, but the only way the writer could get it out on paper. This is a book that I will read again. Will give copies to friends.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great mixture of the novel and memoir forms. A young Bosnian called Ismet Prcic leaves his war torn country to live in California where a doctor advises him to write everything down to help him cope with his problems settling down there - this is the memoir part. The novel focuses on his life growing up in Bosnia, family problems and the eventual family breakup. It is also a really heartbreaking study of the horrors of war and the resulting shell shock. It also deals with his involvement in a drama group in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina where the author is from and how they get permission to visit a drama group in Scotland where some of the troup plan to escape. Ismet ends back in Croatia before eventually getting to California. Although it jumps back and forth in time and confuses by Ismet apparently morphing into Mustafa (His name is Meat in the Apache unit of the army) the book is brilliantly written and really entertaining.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is full of memories of battle torn Bosnia. The author keeps the reader's attention narrating events through the eyes of two characters: Ismet himself, and Mustafa, an imaginary character. This book took me to Bosnia, made me sad and angry, took me away from all of that to find a young man who survived, heart and gifts intact.
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