From the back of the book:
Mahmutovic's writing is lucid and beautiful. Told in the first person voice of a young woman coming of age as her country falls into war and hatred, the deceptively simple narrative takes the reader on a journey across landscape, political boundaries, assumptions and emotions. The impact is powerful and evocative, the voices authentic, speaking for themselves free of heavy handed authorial intrusion.
Full of poignancy without a hint of self-pity; truth without a hint of preaching, the novella is a gripping read, a challenging page turner that will establish Mahmutovic as one of the leading writers of his generation.
Adnan Mahmutovic was born in 1974 in Banja Luka, northern Bosnia and moved to Sweden as a refugee in 1993. He lives in Stockholm, where he is finishing a PhD in English literature. Adnan worked as a personal aid to a man in a wheelchair for 11 years. After his friend died, he took the position on of a manager for a group of 10 people who take care of a teenager with special needs. He describes himself as "a Bosnian exile in beautiful and calm Sweden, the land whose naked north glistens with green Northern Lights".
The novel begins with Fatima, the protagonist, a handcuffed prostitute in a Berlin cellar. Quite a way to grab the reader. Fatima is Muslim, a pragmatic teenager whose coming of age story of survival is told without sentimentality or judgement. No small feat.
Kirkus review, I think, said it best, and I'll quote the review here:
Fatima Begovic is a bright, inquisitive, feisty teen, fond of Jane Austen novels—“bitter stories about a kind of high-class peasantry,” as her English tutor glosses them—and Beverly Hills 90210. Growing up in a small town in Bosnia in the early ’90s, she wants nothing more than a normal life, but neither fate nor her heart’s promptings seem likely to grant it. She falls in love with a peasant named Aziz, but his lack of prospects, and certain other rumored oddities, make him a poor match in the eyes of her parents. Then there’s the gathering storm of the Yugoslavian civil war, which starts with a new requirement that Fatima register as a Muslim, proceeds through taunts and threats from local toughs and escalates to drive-by shootings and worse at the hands of Serbian militias. Fatima’s father seems paralyzed by the danger, while her mother vents her anxiety with compulsive cleaning binges, and Fatima and Aziz make the wrenching decision to leave. But while Fatima finds safety of a sort, the poverty and anomie of refugee life forces her and Aziz to follow desperate new paths. Mahmutovic, himself a Bosnian refugee, paints a raw, intimate portrait of Bosnian village life and of the seething ethnic tensions that tore it apart. He writes prose that’s sometimes subtle and delicate—“she gave the impression of a half-asleep fox from Russian stories, sly and ready to bite even when she looked tame and kind”—and sometimes sensuous and earthy, words that manage to be both psychologically acute and lyrical. Fatima’s longing for a life of warmth and vibrancy as her reality grows cold and desolate makes for an imaginative rendering of the damage wrought by racism and war.
A fine, moving debut from a talented writer.
I had the pleasure of meeting Adnan last year at a literary conference, and not only is he a talented man, but he's a lovely person as well. I look forward to more of his work.
I love bookish gadgets, I must say that my collection of bookmarks is growing proportionally to my TBR pile. Well, almost ;-) Bookends make also great decoration of a bookshelf, especially when they correspond to the book on the shelves, I've found several that I would really love to have.
Bookends for favorite titles
Jake Whyte lives on an old farm on a small British island, tucked away from the world with her disobedient collie named Dog. However when her flock of sheep start dying from mysterious and horrific circumstances, Jake has to engage with the rest of the island in order to find out what is happening. All the Birds, Singing is about running and hiding from the past and dealing with isolation and loneliness.
The novel is told in alternating perspectives from the protagonist. One follows everything that happens after finding one of her sheep dead from mysterious circumstances. The other works backwards from that point and explores Jake’s past and why she is running away from it. It is a unique way to tell the story but it also serves as a metaphor for the way Jack is trying to distance herself from her past. However, while reading the novel, she also realise how much the past effects and stays with her, no matter how hard she tries to escape it.
It feels like Evie Wyld has an interest in the outsider and exploring a disconnection from a place/society. There is a struggle between Jake’s need to make a connection with her need to isolate herself from the world; this is what really captivated me about this book. Wyld was born in Australia and now lives in England and I am curious if this theme is something she has struggled with herself. I have heard her first novel After the Fire, A Still Small Voice deals with similar themes but I don’t think I will know for sure until her planned graphic memoir is released later this year.
All the Birds, Singing is a beautifully lyrical and atmospheric novel that deals with some pretty heavy themes. I put this novel off for so long, mainly because it won the Miles Franklin literary award and it was getting far too much attention. However it was picked for my book club in the middle of 2014 but because I was in America while this was happening I missed the chance to read and discuss the novel. I finally decided to pick up the book and I was blown away.
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An excellent story for any young reader. Scooby Doo mixed with the Hardy Boys and the one and only Alfred Hitchcock's three investigators series.
The author's really clever use of the characters is totally incredible. The story is full of mystery, monsters and 4 children who have powers they have yet to discover, who are being hunted by the strange professor who is running the nearby academy.
The author keeps the reader enrapt by following each individuals life story and what links them to an incident in the New Mexico desert in 1938. The really clever thing is the the characters are based on historic fictional horror characters from the past who are given a modern twist in order for them to be believable. The fact that these 4 young people are trying to find their way through their school years, facing the normal school age problems coupled with finding out who they really are makes for an excellent read.
Taking a lot of mystery, myths, horror stories and characters from the past author Christian Page has blended them all together to produce a classic and anyone who likes tradition with a modern twist will love this novel and the ones to follow.
Parents this book is a must read for teenagers, can you remember the Brother Grimm, Frankenstein and the mystery of Roswell, this book brings them to life in the modern day. Praise to the author and his creative genius.
I am a Jasper Fforde novice. I think that maybe one time a long time ago I tried to read his nursery rhyme crime book and got distracted.
I've not read his most well-known series, which starts with The Eyre Affair, although I think I would like it.
But one of my F&B friends is in love with the series, so we have purchased all of the books, and it is on my Long List of Series to Evaluate This Year, so I decided to read it. Finally.
Loved it. Some of the characters reminded me a lot of Roald Dahl - the witches, the villain (and what a hilariously appropriate and self-inflicted end he comes to), the world building which relies, more or less, on unbridled crony capitalism to bring about the end of the world as they know it. It's satirical, pointed, funny, quirky and downright subversive, and calls out humanity for some of our most unattractive failings. I spent so much of the time reading this book smiling.