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Rose of Sarajevo MP3 CD – Audiobook, August 26, 2014
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About the Author
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This book tells the story of the war in Croatia and Bosnia from the standpoint of a muslim news reporter in Bosnia. There's a lot of history in this book, but it is explained in such a way that you can understand the development of this very complicated war, and since its more like reporters talking about it, you get to feel like you are in the newsroom.
Many of the negative reviews that I had read explained that the characters were flat and that they felt that something was missing in this book, but to be honest I actually enjoyed the way Kulin portrayed the characters because it enables the reader to put himself in the shoes of the characters. Do you really need someone to explain to you how would you feel in the middle of war when there is no food and people are massacred, or would you rather stop and think how would you feel in this situation? For me, this style of writing made the story more real - it enabled me to transport myself to this horrific period.
This book outlines what happens when these people get their way, when media and leaders and the common people permit these persons to espouse their cleverness, and manipulate us all.
If you want to read about the effects of allowing fear to dominate our culture with the end result leading to a war predicated on religion or hatred this is the read.
Reader alert! You will need to understand a little Balkan and Ottoman history to appreciate this novel, but that can be obtained, for example, by scanning a few Wikipedia articles.
The protagonist in this novel is a woman journalist in Sarajevo. Making her a journalist was a stroke of inspiration, as it allows the integration of history and fiction without seriously disrupting the story. That type of integration often fails. Ultimately, this is a story of survival and complex relationships, of love and redemption. It reveals the tragedy of Sarajevo without wallowing in the gore.
The history is fairly detailed, but it does have a viewpoint. The Serbs are the villains here, as expected from a Turkish author with sympathy for Bosnia. However, she is an excellent storyteller, with a knack for portraying sympathetic characters. This is the second of her novels I have read, and I will look for others.
Top international reviews
There are times when the book does feel a bit like it's trying to shoe horn a sort of 'brief history of the Balkans' into the fictional format in a rather forced way. That said, it did answer some very basic questions that had been playing on my mind about the ethnic make-up of the area. Undoubtedly it's one-sided because the writer is Turkish and the main characters are Bosniaks - Bosnian Muslims. But every book about this conflict is guaranteed to be bring its own biases.
It's not an easy read because some of the material is deeply disturbing. Those passages are well written and don't labour the suffering. They present cold hard info and then move on because there's no need to over-play such horror. Sadly it's also not an easy read because most of the characters are basically rather unpleasant and unlikeable. The heroes and heroines are not 'nice' people, their relationships are as strained and tortured as their environment and the ending, when it comes, is unsatisfying and unmemorable. Whether the writing is poor or the translation is flawed, this book just doesn't 'flow' well but if you're looking for a book on the conflict from the Bosniak perspective, it's well worth a read.
Then, all of a sudden, the compelling story started to be told of one of the most shameful periods of recent European history. Another ethnic cleansing which was allowed to happen in the 1990s - as if noone had learnt anything from the Holocaust. It is an important story to be told, but I feel that maybe the telling got lost in this novel.
I got to the end and felt that I'd missed something, it came out of the blue and I was left disappointed, as if I'd lost the last chapter somehow. I'm glad I continued with book but ....
If the author decides to revisit this topic, I would love something about the rebuilding of the Balkans, how the different ethnicities were able to rebuild their countries and their identities...
in the 1990s when the horrific wars were taking place, this book through a story about families and their
friends clarified some aspects about the history of Bosnia and the Bosniaks. There were
parts of the book I could hardly bear to read, so tragic and horrific were the circumstances
of the characters, who though fictitious displayed the reality of people's lives in Bosnia
and other parts of the former Yugoslavia at that time. Apart from the impact of the war,
the universal circumstances of their lives, made complicated by the gradual development
if the war were very moving. This is the second book I have read by Ayse Kulin and I hope
to read more of her books.
I won't give a resume of the plot as other people have already done so but I would agree with a previous reviewer that my understanding of the whole book would have been greatly enhanced by including maps of the area where the book took place.
A thoroughly gripping book which I couldn't put down until it was finished!
Whilst heart wrenching, it also contains hope and makes me angry that this happened in Europe in my lifetime. We must learn and books like this must be widely read so we understand and act to prevent this ever happening again.
It did however make me realise just how horrific the war was between the Serbs and Croats. We are so lucky in the UK to live such stable lives. The risks that some people have to deal with on a daily basis are mind boggling.
It tells of a young girl whose family and friends are torn apart by war. Thought provoking.
Nevertheless, the story of Rose was very readable and once into the rhythms of the book this reader was able to cope with the changes - which were not so numerous in the 2nd half.