Book number three for my Read the World project and I chose another collection of short stories for Bosnia Herzegovina, in part because I was really excited to read this book when I found it available for preorder. When I was at university part of the politics section of my degree focused on state rebuilding after war and the Bosnian war was one of my focuses. But I feel like it’s not enough to learn cold facts about a place, stories help us to understand a history far better than a textbook could.
So going in to this book I knew it wouldn’t be a happy one. Obviously, stories of displaced survivors of genocide, masquerading as civil war, are never going to be happy. But when you also take in to consideration the failure of the Bosnian government to address the massive inequalities between Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks afterwards, as well as the fact that the Bosnian war resulted in rape being categorised as a war crime for the first time, it was obviously going to be hard-hitting.
Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura writes beautifully and her stories cover an entire spectrum of experiences within the war; survivors, both Muslim and Christian, thinking back on those they lost and the country they’ve had to leave behind. There’s nothing romantic about their stories, as there’s nothing romantic about war itself.
My only minor criticism is a few typos throughout, which us perhaps a danger of self-publishing (but not the end of the world!) Letters from Diaspora is a short but powerful collection of stories.