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Sarajevo, a town of less than 70,000 in 1917, grows to over 500,000 in 1991. The murder of one Austrian King (King Ferdinand) in Sarajevo precipitates WWI in 1914. The murder of thousands of Sarajevo citizens in 1992 nearly goes unnoticed. “Rose of Sarajevo” is a fictionalized story of an estimated 14,000 Sarajevo’ lives lost at the hands of Serbian soldiers.
Ayse Kulin, a Turkish author and newspaper columnist, writes of a female Muslim journalist that lives through the beginnings of the Balkan Wars in the early 1990s. The fictional journalist is married with two children and a husband who works as a free-lance engineer. Her husband is often absent from the family because of the nature of his contract work. His wife also works on assignment for the local paper and the children are babysat by their grandmother. The journalist wife falls in love with a fellow journalist. The husband finds out and leaves his wife and family. These personal circumstances are folded into the beginnings of the 1990’s Balkan Wars.
Kulin’s personalization of history is modestly successful with a love story that exemplifies the worst of what humans are capable of becoming. “Rose of Sarajevo” compels one to review the history of the Balkan wars. Kulin deserves some praise for that accomplishment.
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A powerful read. The novel is set in Sarajevo in the 80's and 90's as Yugoslavia breaks apart. Nimeta is a Bosniak (Muslim) reporter and the novel follows the impact of the break-up on her family and friends, her work, and country and home of Sarajevo.
With a main character as a reporter, Kulin is able to weave large chunks of history into the narrative - they still feel a bit slow, but she follows through with the personal, intimate view of the impact of those larger events. The novel has some grim moments, particularly as it gets into the massacres perpetrated by the Serbs. But the novel also shows the proud history of the Bosniaks and how they lived in peace for years with Serbs and Croats in the city of Sarajevo.
While the novel's ending is ambiguous, I think it suits the themes and is a nod to what many who lived during that time dealt with.
A wonderful painful, but uplifting novel which weaves the tragic brutal awfulness of war with the love, passion and tenderness of individual lives. Beautifully written with such graphic skill that as a listener I pictured the struggles and events as if I was there. Well read by someone who seemed to love the book, this audio book is unforgettable! It is an informative and tender story vividly unfolding a terrible history with compassion and clarity.