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Review from GEIST 65 for Sarajevo Marlboro

The twenty-nine (very) short stories in Sarajevo Marlboro by Miljenko Jergovic (Archipelago Books) are set in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s, and they fill the gaps in the media coverage during that time and in the historical and political accounts that followed. These are tragic, hopeful and funny stories about philosophical, religious, nationalistic, political, historical and practical subjects, such as the difficulty of getting water during war, the joys of findings your favourite bar still standing, the presence of foreign journalists in Sarajevo and the exodus of refugees. Jergovic tells his stories without pretension, sentiment or righteousness, but simply like a stranger with a love for Sarajevo and a firm understanding of its complexity, who tells how he and others lived and died during the war. Sarajevo Marlboro ends with an account of the burning of the Sarajevo University Library, which took twenty-four hours, and the vast number of books all over the city that turned to ash during the war, which reminds the reader of the fragility of books and the privilege of holding this one in your hands.

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