The Bosnia List: A Memoir Of War, Exile, And Return by Kenan TrebincevicThe Bosnia List: A Memoir Of War, Exile, And Return by Kenan Trebincevic

The Bosnia List: A Memoir Of War, Exile, And Return

byKenan Trebincevic, Susan Shapiro

Paperback | February 25, 2014

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A young survivor of the Bosnian War returns to his homeland to confront the people who betrayed his family

At age eleven, Kenan Trebincevic was a happy, karate-loving kid living with his family in the quiet Eastern European town of Brcko. Then, in the spring of 1992, war broke out and his friends, neighbors and teammates all turned on him. Pero - Kenan's beloved karate coach - showed up at his door with an AK-47 - screaming: "You have one hour to leave or be killed!" Kenan’s only crime: he was Muslim. This poignant, searing memoir chronicles Kenan’s miraculous escape from the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign that swept the former Yugoslavia. After two decades in the United States, Kenan honors his father’s wish to visit their homeland, making a list of what he wants to do there. Kenan decides to confront the former next door neighbor who stole from his mother, see the concentration camp where his Dad and brother were imprisoned and stand on the grave of his first betrayer to make sure he’s really dead. Back in the land of his birth, Kenan finds something more powerful—and shocking—than revenge.
Kenan Trebincevic immigrated to America in 1993 and became a citizen in 2001. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and Op-Ed page, the Wall Street Journal, Salon, and The Best American Travel Writing 2012 and on American Public Radio and NPR. Susan Shapiro teaches journalism at New York University and the New School....
Title:The Bosnia List: A Memoir Of War, Exile, And ReturnFormat:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 7.71 × 5 × 0.6 inPublished:February 25, 2014Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143124579

ISBN - 13:9780143124573


Rated 5 out of 5 by from A gripping, emotional and informative book I picked up this book hoping for some clarity in my understanding of the Balkans: who's who, who did what to whom, who are the good guys and who are the war criminals. When I put it down I was more confused then when I started. Paradoxically, such confusion is clarity. The people of the Balkans are entangled by language, family, history and geography, while at the same time divided by ethnicity, distrust and religion. A simplified presentation of the "facts" would be a distortion. At best you can hope for perspective, which The Bosnia List provides. The depredations of war, the festering anger of betrayal are presented through the mind of an eleven year old. Twenty years later, as an American citizen he re-visits his homeland, wanting to confront the villains from his childhood. To his astonishment he discovers that the lines between the good and bad guys are as convoluted as the relations between the ethnicities of the Balkans. The Bosnia List is an astonishing book, showing the complexity of human motives and the vagaries of morality. It's engaging, able to convey powerful emotions without resorting to sentimentality. As an afterthought, it's interesting to note that the protagonist identifies the suffering of the Bosnians with that of Jews during the Holocaust. He talks about how Israel helped Bosnian refugees during the war, and its need to be vigilant against its enemies. This is surprising, considering that Bosnians are Muslim, albeit largely secular. Israel has diplomatic relations with Bosnia, and has extradited an accused war criminal. In Sarajevo Jews believe it's the safest place in Europe for them. This is though Bosnia recently named a school for a Muslim Nazi collaborator, and Bosnian soccer fans yelled "kill the Jews" at a match against Israel. Relations between Bosnians and Jews are as convoluted as anything else about the Balkans. Proof is that this wonderful book is a collaboration between a Bosnian and a Jew. The Bosnia List is well written and gripping. It provides an understanding of people, and of a perplexing and often violent part of the world. I strongly recommend it.
Date published: 2017-12-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Yugoslav wars repeat in miniature in a Balkan New York club. The slow disintegration of the club is the hook into this memoir of a child war refugee who returns for a ten-day visit as an adult. While the writing is standard, the story - and its strength is in the alternating telling through Kenan Trebincevic's child and adult eyes - is a eye-popping view into the ethnic fratricide that tore apart Yugoslavia and the scars that remain today. There is real emotional pull throughout the book as messy, nuanced, complex choices made in wartime surface. And linger for decades.
Date published: 2014-04-04

Editorial Reviews

“The great instruction of this important work is the author’s moral transformation that helped him replace hate with grace, if not forgiveness.”—Publishers Weekly“A mesmerizing tale of survival and healing.”—Booklist“An engaging memoir of war trauma and the redemption to be found in confronting it.”—Kirkus“A young New Yorker haunted by searing memories goes on a most unusual overseas vacation—not to sightsee or party but to confront the ordinary men and women who tore his family’s lives apart. His journey takes us into a time of mesmerizing violence and betrayal when neighbors set upon each other as though it were the 1940s all over again—a world of twisted emotions and baffling brutality lying just below the surface of his contemporary Europe. THE BOSNIA LIST is powerful, the flashbacks riveting.”  —Tom Reiss, bestselling author of The Black Count and The Orientalist“With understated elegance and in highly personal pointillist dots, Kenan Trebincevic illuminates how the Bosnian tragedy blighted, and continues to blight, the lives of countless people both in his homeland and in its far-flung diaspora. This important and original work reminds us, in ways large and small, of the long half-life of an atrocity.”—David Margolick, bestselling author of Elizabeth and Hazel and Strange Fruit“Kenan Trebincevic fights against the power of memory and his own rage in this remembrance of a time that seems like a medieval anachronism yet was barely a decade ago. This is a searing memoir of war and peace from a young man who sees through ancient rhetoric with stunning clarity, both in his home country and his adopted United States. Read this book for its impassioned honesty.”—Tom Zoellner, bestselling author of A Safeway in Arizona“I’m so blown away by this beautiful book.  For the first time, a young Bosnian tells a riveting coming-of-age story about the brutal Balkan war when parents disappeared into concentration camps, teachers turned on students and children betrayed children.Two decades later, now an American citizen, Kenan returns to his homeland to confront the guilty and honor the dead in this passionate, nuanced account of a man who refuses to forget.”—Julia Lieblich, author of Sisters: Lives of Devotion and Defiance“Kenan Trebincevic’s story of survival and remembrance is moving, well-told, and important for all of us to hear. He makes a powerful case for courage and human decency as the only way through the divisive madness of modern life.”—Ian Frazier, bestselling author of Travels in Siberia and Great Plains“THE BOSNIA LIST tells a fascinating story of a harrowing and heart-rending journey. It’s a graceful, taut memoir of family, friends and faith: a moving recollection of souls being torn asunder and slowly beginning to heal.”—Laurence Bergreen, bestselling author of Columbus: The Four Journeys“THE BOSNIA LIST was difficult to finish because it touched me so deeply. I’ve wondered how another Bosniak could describe their tragedy and traumas, watching the transformation of former friends and neighbors becoming animals. Most powerful was how Kenan’s mother’s voice echoed in his head and became his morality, preventing him from getting revenge. She’s one of the strongest, best described female characters in Bosnian literature. And I was rooting for Kenan’s father not to succumb to evil and stay a good man. That might be why his family survived. That shows us all: if we stay good, we have a chance.”—Dr. Esad Boskailo, Bosnian war survivor and co-author of Wounded I Am More Awake