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Ured and in telling her story timely strangely compelling and ultimately about survival depicts the darkest side of human nature during wartime S may very well be one of the strongest books about war you will ever read The writing is taut precise and masterfu. Is it good to remember or is it easier to survive if you forget you ever lived a normal lifeCroatian journalist Slavenka Drakulic wrote this simplistic but powerful story inspired by the personal accounts of various Bosnian Muslim civilian women and their horrific experiences during the Bosnian War in the 1990s Told in 3rd person atrocities to these women such as rape and torture by the soldiers guarding them in order to humiliate and degrade them are graphically depicted The author explains why she chose to refer to the main character and other women by their first initials This story reminded me somewhat of THE DUTCH WIFE by Ellen Keith but the experiences in the women s room aka brothel revealed in this book were much disturbing to me The ending was extremely powerful if he has forgotten her his victim then she must not forget him or her own past Their murderers need to forget but their victims must not let themIt s unfathomable that such horrific events this lack of humanity still occur to this day This book is a MUST READ

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Kao da me nema

Set in 1992 during the height of the Bosnian war S reveals one of the most horrifying aspects of any war the rape and torture of civilian women by occupying forces S is the story of a Bosnian woman in exile who has just given birth to an unwanted child one wi. I don t know why I have read this book at this very time close to Christmas it is a devastating book and it is nothing compared to the reality experienced by this woman which the author will simply call SThis woman will be deported along with other residents of her village only to be Bosnian This was enough during the terrible war in the Balkans in 1992 to determine the death of peopleI say immediately the narration and the events that are reported are strong if not than most of the books about holocaust s survivors i have read in the past I really feel the bowels tightened since I read it started and finished late at night because I couldn t uite get away from S s voiceImprisoned together with women and children in a Concentration camp S recounts her tragedy as a victim of daily rapes by Serbian soldiersRape and pregnancies fit just like ethnic cleansing These women thus become unable to differentiate between the victim and the subjugated crushed by that power of life and death in the hands of these beasts who until a few months before were their neighbors their bakers electricians ethc a life in the villages that was once based on sharing and respect but now devastated by the laws of warS will perhaps be the only one who will try to see beyond the mechanisms of survival and evil even if torn apart by these physical sufferings and mental stereotypes in defense of what is indescribableS will come to a real introspection of herself once she finds out she is pregnant by those orgies of evil and flesh Not even the luck of being able to be evacuated to Zagreb and then herself only to Stockholm will change that sense of free fall of heart and no hope for a new lifeThe child is never mentioned initially if not as a cancer a disease of war but the deep meditation work on herself and the unscheduled circumstances such as the carelessness of a nurse who will put her baby on her breast once born she wanted to give him in adoption it will slowly take S to look at that flesh that is pulsating and living on her chest as a human being That childcancer will then be her salvation and new and positive chance of life despite an unstoppable pain these are real facts lived and happened to thousands of women in the Balkans whether Serbs Bosnians or CroatsI voluntarily left aside real facts of sexual violence described against childrenIo non so perch ho letto uesto libro proprio in uesto periodo a ridosso del Natale un libro devastante ed niente in confronto alla realt vissuta da uesta donna che l autrice chiamer semplicemente Suesta donna verr deportata insieme ad altri abitanti del suo villaggio unicamente per essere bosniaca con padre musulmano bastava uesto durante la tremenda guerra nei balcani del 1992 per determinare la morte delle personeDico subito la narrazione e le vicende ivi riportare sono forti se non piu rispetto alla maggior parte dei libri dei sopravvissuti all olocausto Mi sento veramente le viscere strette da uando l ho letto iniziato e terminato a tarda notte perch non riuscivo assolutamente a staccarmi dalla voce di SRinchiusa insieme a donne e bambini in un campo di prigionia S racconta la sua tragedia di donna vittima di stupri di gruppo uotidiani da parte dei soldati serbiLo stupro e le relative gravidanze atte proprio come pulizia etnica ueste donne diventano uindi incapaci di differenziare la vittima dal soggiogato Schiacciate da uel potere di vita e morte nelle mani di ueste bestie che sino a pochi mesi prima erano i loro vicini di casa i loro panettieri elettricisti etccuna vita nei villaggi che un tempo era basata sulla condivisione e il rispetto ma ora devastata dalle leggi della guerraS sar forse l unica che cercher di vedere oltre ai meccanismi di sopravvivenza e di male anche se dilaniata da ueste sofferenze fisiche e stereotipie mentali atti a difesa da ci che indescrivibileS arriver ad una vera introspezione di se stessa una volta scoperto di essere incinta da uelle orgie di male e carne Neanche la fortuna di riuscire ad essere tutti evacuati a Zagabria e poi unicamente lei sino a Stoccolma modificher uel senso di caduta libera del cuore di speranza di una vita nuovaIl bambino non viene mai citato inizialmente se non come un cancro una malattia della guerra ma il lavoro di riflessione su se stessa e le circostanze non programmate come la sbadataggine di una infermiera che le metter il piccolo sul petto una volta nato la porteranno pian piano a guardare uella carne pulsante e vivente come un essere umano uel bambinoil cancro sar poi la sua salvezza e possibilit di vita nonostante un dolore inarrestabile uesti sono fatti veri vissuti e accaduti a migliaia di donne nei balcani che fossero serbe bosniache o croateho volontariamente lasciato da parte fatti veri di violente sessuali descritte nei confronti dei bambini

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Thout a country a name a father or a language Its birth only reminds her of an even grueling experience being repeatedly raped by Serbian soldiers in the women's room of a prison camp Through a series of flashbacks S relives the unspeakable crimes she has end. My original review 2000 in the San Francisco ChronicleS A Novel of the Balkans By Slavenka Drakulic Viking 216 pages 2295Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic has given the world a gift digging into the twisted reality of the war that splintered the former Yugoslavia and emerging with S a searing story about a woman held in a Bosnian concentration camp It is a haunting difficult novel that is also somehow redemptiveIn the past Drakulic has demonstrated in essays such as Cafe Europa Life After Communism an inspired knack for unlikely but telling details She also has a restlessness and a moral imagination that give her work nuance and power and flavor this last uality being one she jokes about in the title of her I loved him so much I ate him novel The Taste of a Man But never has she combined her approach and her subject matter into anything like the cataclysmic power of this new novel which makes her earlier novels look like secondary school warmups Drakulic not only pulls us into the world of this anonymous young woman a teacher taken away by Serb soldiers along with everyone else in the town she works in but she does it without manipulation The smell the smell of dust in the dry air that is what she will remember begins an early chapter The taste of coffee with too much sugar The image of women uietly climbing on to the bus one by one as if going on an excursion And the smell of her own sweat Some might call Drakulic s adroit use of sight and sound and fleeting impression manipulative but when it works as well as this the criticism seems misplacedDrakulic takes us through the succession of horrors endured by S in such a relaxed manner it almost seems like travel writing There is the uncertain young man who comes to take S away The black nail of his big toe is poking out of his torn cloth sneakers she writes There is the subdued horror of packing just a few belongings when S has no idea how long she will be gone or where she s being taken And there is the power of a good list such as this one describing the villagers These people are leaving behind uneaten food on the table unwashed dishes unfinished work animals in the barn radios playing laundry for ironing arguments Drakulic keeps her prose orderly and controlled Simple impression follows simple impression The cumulative effect makes the reader go from understanding the fracture of Yugoslavia by what was shown on TV to knowing it through benumbing verisimilitudeBecause Drakulic always looks for the small human moment that can offer respite from horror the atrocities portrayed never seem gratuitous or polemical That s saying a lot given such passages as S overhearing a young voice saying I saw three dead girls in a ditch I knew them from school They were naked Their breasts had been cut off I covered them with leaves The book never drags and no page stands out as less gripping than the next But the story rises to another level of horror when S moves into the women s room in the concentration camp Drakulic juxtaposes the ordinary with the extraordinary to make these scenes so powerful S tries to unbutton her blouse Three pairs of men s eyes watch her movements as her trembling fingers fail to find the buttons It is not that she does not want to obey their order On the contrary she is in a hurry to do so At that moment she cannot even think about doing anything else but S no longer controls her fingers What the soldiers do to S the hows and whys of it cannot fail to shake loose troubling perspectives on war and what it means Drakulic could not have written a book this good this free of cheap effect if she had rushed herself She had to spend time mulling over the war gaining something to serve as ballast something enabling her to see the truth in a line such as But the soldiers are no longer people either except that they are less aware of it Despite the dehumanization suffered Drakulic s main character remains alive on the page even if she doesn t have an actual name just a letter like all the women in the story I m alive she thinks as if this were a secret to be kept for herself Later she jumps suddenly as if startled out of a dream And still later during the unnerving section devoted to S s odd liaison with the camp s sad proper and yet ultimately debauched commander Smells are a dangerous thing they catapult you back into the past and she is afraid of forgetting where she is She must focus on the captain Eventually S and the others are released from the camp The psychology of what they face afterward has been explored elsewhere but even so Drakulic s take on psychological dislocation comes across as fresh S can t look back She can t look forward She can t even claim the present But nothing is close enough to her yet not the wet asphalt she is treading not the cup of coffee she is holding not the snowflakes falling on her face Only when S resettles in Stockholm that gleaming Swedish bastion of prosperity and social services can she try to come to terms with living Just what that entails can t be reduced to a few words but her agonizing reflections and where they lead never feel less than honestSteve Kettmann is an American writer living in Berlinhttpsfgatecomcgi binarticlecgiThis article appeared on page RV 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle


10 thoughts on “Kao da me nema

  1. says:

    Croatian journalist novelist and essayist Slavenka Drakulić has written a terrifyingly fierce and painful novel of a country's lost identity told through the suffering of a nameless group of female inmates in a camp and their difficult attempts to rebuild their lives after liberation All the characters are simply known

  2. says:

    This was the first Drakulic I read and at the time I felt incapable of writing a review although I consider it both very well written as a novel and immensely important as a historical reflection on the routine of rape during wars There was a double reason why I could not put into words what I thought First of all I strugg

  3. says:

    I don’t know why I have read this book at this very time close to Christmas it is a devastating book and it is nothing compared to the reality experienced by this woman which the author will simply call SThis woman will be deported along with other residents of her village only to be Bosnian This was enough

  4. says:

    When your country is at war with another or perhaps many others you are aware of the risk to human life You know soldiers will die you know that some of these may be people you know or even your loved ones But though the civilians at home worry about those who are away fighting for their country they rarely see

  5. says:

    Slavenka Drakulic born 1949 is a Croatian novelist sociologist and a journalist who writes mainly on women issues This is my opening sentence because when I picked up this book I asked myself Drakulic who? and thought that this was a horror book Hmmm DrakulicDracula BosniaYugoslaviaTransylvania Enough KD Stop Must be the Halloween spirit Th

  6. says:

    My original review 2000 in the San Francisco ChronicleS A Novel of the Balkans By Slavenka Drakulic Viking; 216

  7. says:

    Is it good to remember or is it easier to survive if you forget you ever lived a normal life?Croatian journalist Slavenka Drakulic wrote this simplistic but powerful story inspired by the personal accounts of various Bosnian Muslim civilian women and their horrific experiences during the Bosnian War in the 1990s Told in 3rd person atrocities

  8. says:

    A must read bookIt reminded me of movies such as Incendies Beanpole and Aurora Borealis Their murderers need to forget but their victims must not let them

  9. says:

    Perhaps that happens to people in wartime words suddenly become superfluous because they can no longer express reality Reality escapes the words we know and we simply lack new words to encapsulate this new experience Only now does

  10. says:

    this novel concerns the systematized rape and torture of civilian bosnian women during the conflicts in the balkans during