On August 25, 1992, Serb forces started shelling the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ending with it being burned to the ground. A huge number of rare books, priceless manuscripts and a large collection of Bosnian serial publications were lost. The Sarajevo Fire Department found itself under constant fire when trying to put the flames out and only a small number of books and publications managed to be saved. At least one person died, killed by sniper fire, when trying to save some of the books. Continue reading →
As an avid reader, I will also post book reviews on my blog, usually connected with places I have been or places I am planning to go. Reading books about places where I am traveling I have found to be of great value. Learning about a city or country through its literature I find greatly rewarding, both before I go and after I return.
My first book review will be of Sarajevo Marlboro, set in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war.
Walking around Sarajevo, every now and then you come across patterns of red marking on the ground. Holes in the asphalt, covered with red resin. Usually shaped in a semi-circular pattern, often looking like a rose.
Bašcaršija (I never managed to pronounce the name properly on my trip), lies in the old town of Sarajevo. It is an old Ottoman market, and dating back to the 15th century, it is as old as the city itself.
‘Fuck war! FUCK WAR!’ The driver yelled. ‘War only good for criminals and for crazy people. Fuck war! Fuck!’ He was becoming louder and louder, gesturing so much his hands barely touched the steering wheel any more. He continued. ‘Fuck we should do instead. Not war. Fuck! Yes. I tell you. We should fuck! Fuck beautiful women! I know. War is bad, very bad. Sex is good, very good.’ He gradually calmed down. Gave a little laugh before continuing on his story.
I play a little chess myself, and when I read about the daily chess games between old men in Sarajevo, I knew I had to have a look. It wasn’t hard to find, I could hear loud discussions from far away.
The chess players
At first it was hard to tell who were playing and who only were watching. The spectators took an active involvement in the game, sometimes even stepping in and doing the moves for the players. Doing a bad move was certainly unacceptable and the player could quickly find himself overruled.