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Fiction Literary

My Name Is Bosnia

by (author) Madeleine Gagnon

translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott

Publisher
Talonbooks
Initial publish date
Sep 2006
Category
Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780889225428
    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price
    $19.95
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780100011052
    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price
    $19.95

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 16
  • Grade: 11

Description

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.

About the authors

Madeleine Gagnon
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
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
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.

Madeleine Gagnon's profile page

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.

Phyllis Aronoff's profile page

Howard Scott translates poetry, fiction and non-fiction, often with co-translator Phyllis Aronoff, including works by Madeleine Gagnon, Kim Doré and Madeleine Monette, as well as numerous scholarly works in the humanities. He has also published translations of poetry by Madeleine Gagnon, Michel Pleau and Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, and science fiction by Élisabeth Vonarburg. In 1997, he won the Governor General’s Literary Award for English translation for The Euguelion, by Louky Bersianik. He is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada.

Howard Scott's profile page

Awards

  • Long-listed, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award

Editorial Reviews

?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

Librarian Reviews

My Name is Bosnia

This novel recounts the journey of a young Muslim woman who leaves war-torn Sarajevo for a new life. After witnessing her father’s murder, she renames herself “Bosnia” and joins other young people who are struggling to survive the war. When two of these companions die in an attack, Bosnia resolves to leave her country. She and her husband eventually move to Québec. Gagnon relates the horrors of war: rapes, beheadings and torture. While the story is unsettling for some, its message is one of peace and freedom for all.

Caution: Both priests and imams are viewed as “hypocritical” and restrictions placed on Muslim women are criticized. A detailed description of a rape is included. Domestic abuse, homosexuality and abortion are discussed.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2007-2008.

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