Sabaheta is a literature student at the University of Sarajevo when war breaks out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After her brother is taken from the family by armed thugs and her mother descends into madness, she goes into the forest with her father to join the guerrillas, where she dresses like a boy and fights side-by-side with the men.
When her father is killed in combat, Sabaheta gives him a makeshift funeral and vows one day to leave her homeland and seek a country where she can pursue her studies and live in peace. Although she is not an observant Muslim, she decides once again to wear the traditional headscarf, and changes her name to Bosnia, making her way alone to Sarajevo to reunite with her friends. After many months, having burned every available piece of furniture to keep warm, they are forced to burn their books, their most precious possessions. Chapter by chapter, they consign each book to memory before setting it alight, and then recite it by heart in front of the fire.
Finally escaping their genocidal homeland, they rise from its ashes of violence and hatred, remaking themselves in the images kept in their hearts of a fabled new life in a foreign land. My Name Is Bosnia is Madeleine Gagnon’s celebration of the power of the imagination to heal and remake our lives.
Madeleine Gagnon has made a mark on Quebec literature as a poet, novelist, and non-fiction writer. Since 1969, she has published over 30 books while at the same time teaching literature in several Quebec universities.
Nancy Huston has described Madeleine Gagnon as someone in whom the boundary between inner and outer life is porous; her words are poetry and her ear for the words of others is poetry too. Everything she takes in from the world is filtered, processed, transformed by the insistent rhythms of the songs within her.
Phyllis Aronoff lives in Montreal. She has a Master’s degree in English literature. The Wanderer, her translation of La Québécoite by Régine Robin, won the 1998 Jewish Book Award for fiction. She and Howard Scott were awarded the 2001 Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award for The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701. She is currently president of the LTAC.
Howard Scott is a Montreal literary translator who specializes in the genres of fiction and non-fiction. His literary translations include works by Quebec writer Madeleine Gagnon and Quebec science fiction writer Élisabeth Vonarburg. In 1997, Scott received the prestigious Governor General’s Translation Award for his work on Louky Bersianik’s The Euguelion.
?Movingly captures the transformative effect of war on human consciousness — “
? Publishers Weekly
?In Gagnon’s deft hands the narrative is stirring but never maudlin.?
? Quill & Quire