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Sarajevo Marlboro is Miljenko Jergovic’s remarkable début collection of stories. Jergovic is a child of Sarajevo who remained in the city throughout 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. Penguin UK released Stela Tomasevic’s stunning translation of the work in England in 1997.
Listen to a radio interview with Stela Tomasevic: Show #73 at PENNSound.
Miljenko Jergovic's Sarajevo Marlboro relies on minute details, such as a dead cactus and a grandmother's ring, to distinguish individuals' numbed reactions to the devastation of the Bosnian war. There's a melancholy, dreamlike sameness to Jergovic's war stories that recalls Alan Lightman's use of time in Einstein's Dreams and Italo Calvino's meditations on place in Invisible Cities, but Jergovic's book is the strongest of the three."
—Maud Newton, Newsday Favorite Book of the Year
Sarajevo Marlboro marks the American debut of a writer who deserves as enthusiastic an audience in the United States as he enjoys in Europe. . .Jergovic brings a powerful cocktail of irony, humour, and detachment to the daunting task of crafting stories asserting the potency of lives that continue to improbably unfurl against a backdrop of bullets and explosions or resonate after they are cut brutally short."
—The Review of Contemporary Fiction
A remarkable collection. . .Grim, beautiful ruminations on how the familiarities of life can, in the instant a bomb drops, become unrecognizable. . . . With a natural sense of stopping point and courage to spare, Jergovic has the mien of the rare author whose gift is so innate he need only conquer a few demons and steady his hands enough to write it all down."
—San Diego Union Tribune
[Jergovic is] a poet, novelist, and journalist of the highest caliber. . .His concern is for the living and in this collection of stories about Sarajevo and its inhabitants he writes about them with the seriousness, sensitivity, quirky intelligence, and gentle humor of a master of the short story."
—The New Republic
Poetic and moving…Of the many books written on Bosnia, this collection of stories is perhaps the best."
Reading Miljenko Jergovic's Sarajevo Marlboro is like wrapping yourself in a quilt of 29 patches, with each patch personalizing the horrors of the Bosnian War in ways that are engaging, humorous, and unendingly sad. If we are ever to learn to avoid carnage it will be through such acts of constant humanizing as are captured in Jergovic's amazing work."
Like all great war books, Sarajevo Marlboro is not about war—it’s about life. Jergovic is an enormously talented storyteller, so the people under siege come through in all their poignant fullness. And one more thing: this book does not belong to the literature of complaining, much too common these days—Sarajevo Marlboro is a book for the people who appreciate life."
Read this book: at Sarajevo many died and the twenty first century was born. These spare tales speak of all that may yet befall us if we forget our essential fragility; by showing that while what unites us is undeniable, what we allow to divide us too easily becomes murderous. This classic of anti-war writing is a warning about the immense human cost of following those who would have us hate others. Its US publication could not be more timely."