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Twice Born: A Novel Hardcover – May 12, 2011

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Mazzantini's eloquent second novel translated into English (after Don't Move), Italian grad student Gemma travels to Sarajevo when it is still part of Yugoslavia for her doctoral thesis. Gojko, a maniacal Bosnian yo-yo salesman and poet, is her guide, and on the day she is to return to her fiancé in Rome, Gojko introduces her to Diego, an impulsive, young Italian photographer from Genoa with a criminal and heroin-using past, and they spend one impassioned night together. Gemma marries, divorces; she and Diego come together in Italy and marry as the situation in the Balkans begins to deteriorate while the couple suffer their own torment trying to conceive a child. Their efforts to have a child result in convoluted relationships arranged by Gojko in Sarajevo, where they return, years later, as the city is falling apart. Gemma returns alone to Rome with a boy, born in Sarajevo. She names him Pietro and raises him as her son with a new husband, Giuliano, after Diego's death. Twenty-four years after her fateful meeting with Diego, Gemma travels again to Sarajevo and into her past, wanting to show Pietro the country of his birth and where his father died. Mazzantini expertly weaves together her characters' stories, jumping backwards and forwards in time and place, from Italy to Sarajevo as the brutality of the Bosnian war melds with the beauty and complexity of Gemma and Diego's passionate romance. If the loose ends tie up too easily in the final chapters, a captivating secret maintains the story's integrity. Mazzantini's haunting novel, beautifully written and skillfully crafted, proves that despite the hatred exposed by war, love persists, and even flourishes. (May)

Review

"This stunning novel about the nature of grief, love, and motherhood blew me away with the quality and depth of her haunting story." The Bookseller 'Awash with vivid memories and powerful emotion... A stunning book.' -- Irish News 'Epic and captivating... Truly unforgettable.' -- Easy Living --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (May 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670022683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670022687
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #716,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mfr on March 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
All of the above, I was totally unaware, who could have imagined what went on in our so called civilised time and was largely ignored. How very sad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shawn on May 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you want a story about Sarajevo and the siege, this is not it. It is a love story, sad, filled with regret and loss. The writing is good but the author seems to have infused her main character with so many disturbing features, the book ends up being all about her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kellie on July 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wow.

The main reason I bought the book is because I really didn't understand how/why some of the characters did what they did in the movie. And as the movie doesn't allow you inside their heads, you have to rely on a quite a lot of symbolism in order to figure out what is going on at times. Reading the book actually gave me closure that the movie did not.

That said... what an incredible book! It is a tragedy, but it is also a picture of the strength of the human spirit. Though set in the former Yugoslavia prior to and during the war there, the story isn't about the war or the siege of Sarajevo, but the three people around whom most of the story centers (Gemma, Diego, & Gojko) and their relationships.

The book is slow-moving in parts, but does keep your attention. Although I wouldn't classify this book as a romance by any stretch, it will likely appeal more to women than men.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most striking books I read for the last 10 years or so. The reason is that it is rare kind of writing when all ideas and subjects culminate in one "knot" at the end of the novel. Many (especially detective) stories have a key at the end and we love this. In many of these books the story, the key or the subject become unusually, surprisingly, mysteriously presented at the end and we always say 'Wow!" just because we did not expect (or least expected) the ending or some unusual twist that occur at the end. Mazzantini is different. What she did was not just this "unusual happening at the end", but very deeply painted (almost like El Greco) the quintessence of war, love and longing of woman to give a birth to child, all three so important and basic to our lives, regardless of time and geographic space. And all this happens in "one shot" when we least expect it. I think that Mazzantini's design of the drama is purely genius. And not surprising, since it took Margaret seven years to write a book (according to one of her interviews on the web). I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By fab on August 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good plot but not the best writing style. Hard to tell if it was all due to the terrible English translation.
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By camilla amati on January 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this is a story rich in flashbacks and journeys.as it involves many cities and many different time settings, yet all is encapsulated in the narration of a summer trip to sarayevo of a woman in her 4os takes with her reluctant teenager son, starting from their city, Rome, nowadays,
the vivid images offered by the author lead you deeply feel every charachter and their circuimstances including the cities and the societies in them. this is a book of many levels, and every story in it is a journey in itself. beyond the societal and historical perspective, the little story that opens to us is one of the most overwhelming, hard and emotional, so every page is needed to get you to the last page.the most reccomended reading if you like to learn about forgiveness and happiness.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this book and found it totally engrossing and cried openly at several points in the story. To me, the story of Gemma's quest to have a baby was separate but inevitably linked to the couple's ties to Sarejevo. I found the writing mesmerising and very descriptive (e.g. descriptions of Gemma's mother and father) and I really liked her husband's character. This is a love story but more importantly, it is a description of the war many of us lived through, paying scant attention to it and it's decimation of cities and people because we were ok in the UK. Discovering what really happened towards the end of the book is shocking but entirely plausible. I have no doubt this book represents a reality for many people/women.
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Format: Hardcover
Mazzantini's book is one of the best novels I've read lately. The author proceeds slowly and thoroughly; she describes the protagonists and the life in the pre-war Sarajevo as well as she doesn't avoid the atrocities during the siege. The reader cannot but take part in the personal drama of Gemma, feeling sorry for her and cry with her. As I have been doing some research on the subject matter for my own writing I guessed the end which did not hinder me from admiring the rich style and precision with which Mazzatini depicts Bosnians, Sarajevo and the ignorance of the international community. I think Bosnian are left alone with their post-war pain even today. Congratulations!
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