In one of 16 sterling stories in Brkic's indelibly empathic debut collection, an artist takes his professor wife's face in his hands as they're about to be evacuated from besieged Sarajevo and thinks, "how ill-equipped we were for the grimness of war," a sentiment shared by most of Brkic's rapidly sketched yet fully realized characters. Of Croatian descent, Brkic worked as a forensic archaeologist in Bosnia-Herzegovina after the war, and she now imaginatively re-creates the last days of the dead and the sorrows of the displaced, writing with astonishing narrative grace, deep respect, and economy of both language and emotion. Brkic discerningly portrays a sniper and a peace broker, exiles stoic and hopeless, mothers longing for news of missing sons, and, in the exquisite title story, a man who, like thousands, has lived underground during months of shelling because "stubborn survival is our only rebellion." But survival to what end when so many are lost and so much is destroyed? Brkic's refined, surprising, and resonant stories encapsulate the truth about humankind's capacity for violence, selfishness, and altruism. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
"Like Ondaatje, Courtney Brkic exhales a redemptionary poetic quietude onto the page. The dead of Yugoslavia peer at us from behind her words."
-Tom Paine, author of Scar Vegas
"These marvelous stories full of sharp observations and touching moments show you more clearly and passionately what people go through in a war than most books of journalism do."
-Josip Novakovich, author of Salvation and Other Disasters
"Stillness manages the difficult fusion between a subject of substantive, brutal power and a literary style of unadorned grace. Given her work in Bosnia and Croatia, Courtney Angela Brkic is uniquely suited to serve as a witness to the genocidal war in Yugoslavia. But witness in and of itself cannot achieve the authentic leap of empathetic imagination that informs--that haunts--every sentence in this original and memorable debut collection."