At the Bar

Bosnia ListIt’s fitting that The Bosnia List begins at the bar with Kenan Trebinčević and his brother, Eldin.  Reading this memoir feels like taking a seat next to them at the bar and listening to their story.  It’s a riveting account of their escape from war-torn Bosnia, told in a conversational style by Kenan with journalist Susan Shapiro.  So pull up a chair and keep the drinks flowing, because you won’t want to walk away until you hear how it ends.

The escape from persecution is a necessary part, but it’s not the whole story.  Kenan’s friends, neighbors, favorite teacher, and idolized coach all turned against him and his family when the ethnic cleansing began.  Their survival and escape from the deadly conflict is remarkable, but it is the decision to return two decades later that is staggering.  Kenan and Eldin go along with their ailing father’s desire to visit their homeland, but Kenan goes with his own agenda.  He makes a list of a dozen redresses that begins with “Confront Petra about stealing from my mother” and “Stand at Pero’s grave to make sure he’s really dead.”  This is no social visit for Kenan, who has been having involuntary revenge fantasies.  How he reconciles the items on his list provides the resolution to this tragic tale.

I was in high school when Slobodan Milošević incited Yugoslavia to tear itself apart.  I was studying Russian at the time, so I followed the developments in the news, but only through American channels.  I didn’t have a sense of what it meant on an individual level until I read The Bosnia List.  I am grateful that Lindsay Prevette at Penguin Books directed my attention to it, and that Penguin is allowing me to giveaway a copy!  The Bosnia List goes on sale today, and the giveaway goes through Friday the 28th.  Leave a comment below to enter the random drawing!


10 Responses to “At the Bar”

  1. Thank you for your review. There are so many memoirs being released these days with accompanying fanfare, I tend to avoid them until there is a consensus from readers I trust. I have always been interested in the ex-Yugoslavian region and this memoir strikes me as perhaps a bit more relevant with the many uprisings going on currently that seem to be primarily stoked by differences in background, class, religion, etc. I hope besides hearing an interesting story, I might gain some insights into the causes and fallout of living through such an experience. I would love to receive the copy you are giving away. Cheers!

  2. I heard Kenan on the Leonard Lopate show yesterday and was enthralled. My husband is from former Yugoslavia and I have read and watched a lot about the war and its aftermath (as well as meeting actual survivors) but I still find it so horrific and amazing, how everything fell apart so quickly and so spectacularly. Kind neighbors one day turned into cold hearted executioners the next. I admire the fortitude of the Bosnian people and hope they can one day live in a peaceful, just, and economically stable homeland.

  3. This book sounds like a very interesting read in regards to a subject I do not know much about, but am keen to learn more. Thank you for the opportunity to enter.

  4. I have been waiting a few months for the release of this book. I hope to use it in my classroom.

  5. I am an avid reader of memoirs and your story sounds like it will be a heartfelt and honest read. I very much look forward to reading it.

  6. Just read an interview Kenan did and am eager to read more!

  7. Thanks for alerting me to your giveaway via Goodreads, but as I live in France I am pretty sure I won’t be eligible. 🙂 It sounds like an excellent read. Brilliant review.

  8. said muminovic Says:

    It is interesting to read the book about the Serbian aggression on my country Bosnia and my Brcko City, especially if I was part of thar story, someone who witnessed all of that and someone who gave his testimony to the International Tribunal for the war crimes in former Yugoslavia. I would just underline that religion differences were never reason for conflict but religion was misused for the purpose of brutal aggression on Bosnian basic ethnic group BOSNIAKS. Bosniaks are majority in Bosnia and Serbs and Croats always tried to get Bosniaks recognise themselves as Croats or Serbs so they can have an argument to claim Bosnia as Serbian or Croatian land. But Bosniaks always knew that we are original nation which had no habit to mix with occupiers. We didn’t come on Balkan peninsula like Serbs and Croats did….we always been there and our genes proves it.

  9. said muminovic Says:

    In addition to my previous comment I want to say that the book is great did as the reader can find all the answers to all the posible questions that might pup up about the Serbian aggression on independent nation of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

  10. Maureen Lipsky Says:

    I would love to read this book especially if it comes from a person that experienced it first hand

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