This is a book that is 153 pages long but which is far from a quick and easy read, in the best possible way. It is a love story, a war story, a coming-of-age story - all of these and none of these. It shakes you, it shows you things you may never have seen, it is deeply human and utterly unsentimental.
The book's "heroine" is Fatima, in many ways a typical teenager who is not allowed to be when war breaks out. Fatima's voice is very strong, she is ironic, self-deprecating:
"When I was fifteen I hung a wooden plaque over the front door with an inscription: A Bosnian room. An exemplary living space of the exemplary population as it was preserved in the rural heart of the land. Don't touch! For a guided tour, ask the sulky attendant."Adnan's prose is both poetic and grittily real. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is first and foremost a gripping story, with the added benefits of an insight into a time and a culture I had very little knowledge of.
I decided to ask Adnan not directly about the book, which you can read about on other virtual book tour stops, but ask him my set of "Writing & Place" questions, and then do a short "word association" giving him some words that came up for me while I was reading and asking him for his instant responses. Here are his answers:
Tania: Where are you?
Adnan: Stockholm, Sweden.
T: How long have you been there and how did you get there?
T: What do you write?
T: How do you think where you are affects what you write about and how you write?
A: I’m not entirely sure. Probably in subconscious ways. I hardly ever use a real place in my stories unless I’m far away from it. Another interviewer asked me why I call Stockholm ‘my city’ but never use it in my stories. I think I’m too close to it to start reimagining it.
Thinner Than a Hair Word association
Forgetting and rememory (Tony Morrison’s word)
Butter, hardboiled eggs, salt, hard and dark bread, more salt, plum jam, rosehip jam, strawberry jam, orange juice spiced with lots of ginger.
(Note. I was answering these questions just before breakfast)
Sharing. Sharing of one’s vulnerability.
Thank you so much, Adnan. I hope this has whetted your appetite. Buy the book from Cinnamon Press and receive a free copy of Adnan's short story collection, [Refuge]e.