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Sarajevo Marlboro [Paperback]

Miljenko Jergovic
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

4 Feb 2010
Miljenko Jergovic’s remarkable début 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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: ARCHIPELAGO BOOKS; 1 edition (4 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972869220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972869225
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 15.4 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 364,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sarajevo Calling 29 Jun 2004
By A. Ross TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This debut collection of stories from journalist Jergovic was first published a decade ago in his native Croatia (he has since written nine more books). Then in his mid-20s, he lived in besieged Sarajevo for the bulk of the war, reporting and chronicling the human suffering he witnessed. These twenty-nine stories are drawn from his experiences, and yet are not the standard-issue thinly veiled reportage than so much wartime fiction ends up as. Rather, these are brief character studies and snapshots into daily life, lives where the war has changed everything, and yet must continue. Each is only a few pages, moving quickly to the point, and then ending. Fatalism runs heavily throughout the book, as do the obvious themes of displacement, confusion, anxiety, and occasional absurdity. Although each is distinct and precise, these brief snapshots do tend to blur together into a larger picture when read as an ensemble. The collection is probably best approached as something to dip into once a week, and then contemplate. Otherwise, the stories of suffering and surviving tend to cancel each other out and their impact is greatly diminished.
The strident introduction by Ammiel Alcalay rather oddly asserts that translated works such as this can provide only an out of context and fragmentary taste of a culture and place, and that to really "get" a book like this, you need to posses all kinds of background context such as the social and political history of Yugoslavia as well as an understanding of the relationship between performance spaces, art galleries, visual artist, musicians, and filmmakers, and so forth. It's a bizarre way to introduce a bookóby stating that the reader has no hope of empathy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Extract from �Books on Bosnia�, London 1999 13 Mar 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Memorable collection of short pieces - variously sharp, eloquent, dark and poetic - written against the backdrop of wartime Sarajevo by one of the best young writers to emerge from Bosnia in the past decade.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant portraits of people under siege 18 Mar 2010
By Mark Meynell TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This edition seems to be different from one mentioned in a previous review, in that it comes without any introduction. The result is that we are launched immediately into Jergovic's world - which is probably just as well. This anthology of powerful short stories can therefore speak for itself and stand on its own.

Having visited Sarajevo recently, I kept on trying to imagine what it must have been like constantly to fear snipers and mortars from the surrounding hills. The hills loom large, of course, still, though the dangers have thankfully gone. It is just so inconceivable that in the 20th Century, months-long siege warfare (a phrase that has positively mediaeval echoes) still took place - and this in the era of TV cameras and 24 hour news cycles...

And yet this book does go a long way to help the outsider to be immersed. These short stories (and they are nearly all very short) powerfully capture what it must have been like. The evoke the sounds, the fears, the despair - above all they evoke the humanity of Sarajevo. For as such traumatic episodes in European history recede into the past, it is all too easy (for those with any interest in such tragedies at all) to focus on the statistics and decisions made in far-away conference rooms. But books like this won't allow that. The fear and the despair are expressed on faces with names, they are expressed by people with pasts and memories. Shared experience from decades of living together, memories of who did what during the Second World War (say) are carried into the present, so that these inform who the individuals and their families are.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Views of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
In 1994 the Bosnian War was at its height - an international armed conflict that took place between March 1992 and November 1995, involving the neighbouring states of Croatia and the (then) Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Sarajevo was in the heart of this conflict and so, unlike my trip to Kosova (which took place after conflict had ended) and Serbia (where the protagonist was dangerously close to, but somewhat removed from, the conflict around him), here we find ourselves in the horrifying and bloody midst of war.

"Sarajevo Marboro", a short story collection, book starts with an almost elegiac and nostalgic recollection of a bus trip to a scenic waterfall at Jajce, as recalled by a young boy. Whilst there is a degree of trauma here (a fatal road accident is witnessed), this vignette is in stark contrast to the collection of short stories that follow...

The overriding theme of this collection of short stories is that of ordinary lives suddenly interrupted - and often cut short - by shocking violence, usually in the form of heavy shelling on the city. The format is often similar in each work, a purposefully mundane description of ordinary urban lives - and then a cataclysmic moment of violence - often retold in the same mundane, matter-of-fact tone as the preceding part of the story. For instance in an excerpt from "The Gardener"... "We were coming home with our water when the shells began to fall, so we ran into the nearest building. The hall was already full of people. Ivanka leaned against the wall and put her canisters down, but I didn't let go of mine. She lit a cigarette, and then the place just exploded. People fell to the ground, and then one by one they stood up again. All except Ivanka, that is - she didn't stand up.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about war in Bosnia 30 Oct 1999
By Davorin Horak (davorin_horak@hotmail.com) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When Jergovic's book Sarajevo Marlboro was published in Croatia I thought here it is, another so called writer who wants to make money out of people's tragedy. But then, I met him and has been surprised. Man like him just can't be one of those nationalist writers in which books every second word is the name of his country. He thinks and he has great talents with words. Sarajevo Marlboro is mosaic made of two-three pages stories that point directly to your heart. Jergovic understand perfectly well what is going on in his city, to his fellow citizens and though he can't do anything to stop the history, he can remeber it - in his own voice. And that is the beauty of Sarajevo Marlboro.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding, outstanding 10 Jun 2000
By Edward Bosnar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Literally dozens upon dozens of books have been written on the war in Bosnia and the break-up of Yugoslavia by journalists, scholars, diplomats, politicians, etc. both from the former Yugoslavia itself and abroad. However, hardly any of them shed as much light on the war in Bosnia (and, by extension, the recent tragic events throughout former Yugoslavia) as this slim volume. Jergovic has made an art-form of capturing so much feeling, passion and depth in such incredibly short stories. "Sarajevo Marlboro" can definitely be ranked among the great world literature of the last few decades. This is an outstanding book - read it by all means.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only special people find humor in a tragedy 10 Nov 2004
By Alan Klanac - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jergovic has written a book full of life, full of laugh and despair. No one else like Bosnians - with this I mean anyone living a true life of a person in Bosnia - can make jokes on their own sad history and present. Some stories in this book are by far the best short stories I have read in my life and I recommend this book to everyone, especially to politicians who allowed that this humor almost disappears. Bravo Miljenko!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will stay with you forever 7 April 2006
By I. Martina B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is hard not to go back to "Sarajevo Marlboro" and re-read different short stories multiple times. It's one of those books that I make sure to have on my bookcase no matter where in the world I live at that moment. It is powerful yet simple in its wisdom and it will make you both laugh and cry. Quite simply, it is a beautifully thought-out and written story of a city which spirit never died during the tragic years of the war conflict.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sarajevo Calling 29 Jun 2004
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This debut collection of stories from journalist Jergovic was first published a decade ago in his native Croatia (he has since written nine more books). Then in his mid-20s, he lived in besieged Sarajevo for the bulk of the war, reporting and chronicling the human suffering he witnessed. These twenty-nine stories are drawn from his experiences, and yet are not the standard-issue thinly veiled reportage than so much wartime fiction ends up as. Rather, these are brief character studies and snapshots into daily life, lives where the war has changed everything, and yet must continue. Each is only a few pages, moving quickly to the point, and then ending. Fatalism runs heavily throughout the book, as do the obvious themes of displacement, confusion, anxiety, and occasional absurdity. Although each is distinct and precise, these brief snapshots do tend to blur together into a larger picture when read as an ensemble. The collection is probably best approached as something to dip into once a week, and then contemplate. Otherwise, the stories of suffering and surviving tend to cancel each other out and their impact is greatly diminished.
The strident introduction by Ammiel Alcalay rather oddly asserts that translated works such as this can provide only an out of context and fragmentary taste of a culture and place, and that to really "get" a book like this, you need to posses all kinds of background context such as the social and political history of Yugoslavia as well as an understanding of the relationship between performance spaces, art galleries, visual artist, musicians, and filmmakers, and so forth. It's a bizarre way to introduce a bookóby stating that the reader has no hope of empathy. And this is after bemoaning how books that do get translated in the West are those that reinforce prevailing Western prejudices about a culture! It is true that the reader without any knowledge whatsoever of the war in Bosnia will read the stories differently than an expert in Yugoslav history and all the cultures thereof. But I'm not sure that the "naive" reader won't actually get more out of the stories and be affected more significantly.
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