5 Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina That You Should Read Before Visiting

Are you a fellow bookworm traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina soon? You might wanna read these 5 books about Bosnia and Herzegovina before visiting.

The Bridge Over the Drina (Ivo Andric)

Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Bridge Over the Drina (Ivo Andric)

There is no hero or heroine in this book. Instead, there is a bridge, and there are the characters that have loved it, hated it, built it or tried to destroy it. Ivo Andric, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, grew up beside it.

For more than four hundred years a bridge has spanned the River Drina in Bosnia. This novel is its chronicle. Radisav, a workman, tries to hinder its construction and is impaled alive on its highest point. Beautiful Fata leaps from its parapet to escape an arranged marriage. Milan, inveterate gamble, risks all in one last game on it.

Spanning generations, nationalities, creeds, and a great stretch of green water, the bridge bears witness to the lives played out on it, connections forged and centuries of conflict.

Bosnian Chronicle (Ivo Andric)

Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnian Chronicle (Ivo Andric)

Set in the town of Travnik, Bosnian Chronicle presents the struggle for supremacy in a region that stubbornly refuses to submit to any outsider. The time is Napoleonic and the novel, both in its historical scope and psychological subtlety, is Tolstoyan. Inevitably, in its portrayal of conflict and fierce ethnic loyalties, the story is eerily relevant to readers today.

Ottoman viziers, French consuls, and Austrian plenipotentiaries are consumed by a ceaseless game of diplomacy and double-dealing: expansive and courtly face-to-face, brooding and scheming behind closed doors. As they have for centuries, the Bosnians themselves observe and endure the machinations of greater powers that vie, futilely, to absorb them. Ivo Andric’s masterwork is imbued with the richness and complexity of a region that has brought much tragedy to our century and known so little peace.

Death and the Dervish (Mesa Selimovic)

Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina: Death and the Dervish (Mesa Selimovic)

Meša Selimović, one of former Yugoslavia’s very best novelists, in his finest work offers his readers an extraordinarily intricate examination of the anxious and incapacitated human heart, splayed against a backdrop of unsettling vagueness and mystery.

The novel recounts the story of sheikh Ahmed Nuruddin, a dervish living in a kasaba in Bosnia, sometime during the Ottoman rule. When his brother is arrested, the dervish is uprooted from his serene life in the tekke and thrust in the reality of an unfair world, where the fate of an individual means nothing to the merciless system. Often compared to the works of Kafka and Dostoyevsky, this painfully honest and masterly woven story is vague enough in its timing and setting to gain the universality which makes it ever relevant.

The plot of the novel is based on a true event in Selimović’s own life, allowing the narrator to examine the experience from the most personal point of view and delve into every dark corner of the human soul confronted with the hardest life choices. Hugely successful when published in the 1960s, Death and the Dervish has continued to enchant the reader with equal power ever since.

Then I realized what was most important. Did he remember? I had also asked him once about the golden bird that meant happiness. Now I understood: that was friendship, love for another. Everything else can deceive us, but that cannot. Everything else can slip away and leave us empty, but that cannot, because it depends on us. I could not tell him: be my friend. But I could say: I’ll be yours. 

Sarajevo Marlboro (Miljenko Jergovic)

Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo Marlboro (Miljenko Jergovic)

Miljenko Jergovic’s remarkable debut collection of stories, Sarajevo Marlboro – winner of the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize – earned him wide acclaim throughout Europe. Croatian by birth, Jergovic ? spent his childhood in Sarajevo and chose to remain there throughout most of the war. A dazzling storyteller, he brings a profoundly human, razor-sharp understanding of the fate of the city’s young Muslims, Croats, and Serbs with a subterranean humor and profoundly personal vision. Their offbeat lives and daily dramas in the foreground, the killing zone in the background.

Shards (Ismet Prcic)

Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina
Books About Bosnia and Herzegovina: Shards (Ismet Prcic)

Ismet Prcic’s brilliant, provocative, and propulsively energetic debut is about a young Bosnian, also named Ismet Prcic, who has fled his war-torn homeland and is now struggling to reconcile his past with his present life in California.

He is advised that in order to make peace with the corrosive guilt he harbors over leaving behind his family behind, he must “write everything.” The result is a great rattlebag of memories, confessions, and fictions: sweetly humorous recollections of Ismet’s childhood in Tuzla appear alongside anguished letters to his mother about the challenges of life in this new world.

As Ismet’s foothold in the present falls away, his writings are further complicated by stories from the point of view of another young man—real or imagined—named Mustafa, who joined a troop of elite soldiers and stayed in Bosnia to fight. When Mustafa’s story begins to overshadow Ismet’s new-world identity, the reader is charged with piecing together the fragments of a life that has become eerily unrecognizable, even to the one living it.

Shards is a thrilling read—a harrowing war story, a stunningly inventive coming of age, and a heartbreaking saga of a splintered family.

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