As 2012 draws to a close, I’m furiously trying to read and review as many books as possible which deal with Eastern Europe. Back in summer, when I signed up for Black Sheep Dances’ Eastern European Reading Challenge I opted for the “Scholar” level of eight books. Although with this post I’ve recently hit the “Diplomat” level of four books, I still have four more books to read and review if I’m going to reach my coveted goal of eight. Hopefully with a little hard work, good luck and effective time management I’ll get there.
With all that in mind, some of you might remember that one of the books I picked up during one of my recent library visits was Sarajevo: A War Journal. Right after I mentioned the book in my Library Loot posting I began reading it. Despite its somewhat grim depiction of life in a city under siege from daily sniper and mortar fire, I burned through Dizdarević’s book quite quickly. Published in 1993, it is a collection of essays which originally appeared in the city’s Oslobodenje newspaper during the horrific siege. In his short but powerful pieces Dizdarević not only laments the carnage unfolding around him but also rails against the Western powers and the United Nations for their inability and unwillingness to stop the bloodshed.
Being more a collection of war-time essays and less an actual diary of daily events, the book reminded me a bit of Michael Herr’s modern classic Dispatches. Reading Sarajevo: A War Journal I was also reminded of Misha Glenny’s perhaps equally superb The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War. Lastly, I was also reminded of Geraldine Brooks’ 2008 novel People of the Book, since Brooks’ novel tells the story of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah.
With this book read and reviewed, I’m half way to achieving my goal of becoming a “scholar” of Eastern Europe. Who knows, before the end of this month maybe I’ll get there.