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The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Returnby Kenan Trebincevic
Synopses & Reviews
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!" Kenans only crime: he was Muslim. This poignant, searing memoir chronicles Kenans miraculous escape from the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign that swept the former Yugoslavia. After two decades in the United States, Kenan honors his fathers 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 hes really dead. Back in the land of his birth, Kenan finds something more powerful—and shocking—than revenge.
"Nearly 20 years after fleeing their war-ravaged country with his parents and older brother ('the last Muslim family in town'), Trebincevic returned to his hometown of Brcko, Bosnia with vengeance in his heart, yet he found there a different kind of reckoning. In this astute account, co-authored with Shapiro (Five Men Who Broke My Heart), is readably organized and evenhanded. Trebincevic alternates narrating his admittedly reluctant journey back to Bosnia with his father, now in his 70s, and brother, Eldin, in July 2011, with his reconstruction of the outbreak of war in March 1992 — when the author was 11, Bosnia-Herzegovina had declared its independence from Yugoslavia, and the well-armed Serbs launched a bloody campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' against the majority Muslims in the country. Trebincevic and his family were blindsided by the violence, since the diverse ethnic groups had lived in harmony for decades, yet seemingly overnight had to contend with neighbors and teachers hurling ethnic slurs. The family eventually escaped to Connecticut, yet the bonds of loyalty and treachery were so complex and scarring that even after having made his career as a successful physical therapist in Queens, N.Y., Trebincevic, now 30, wrote out a list of scores to settle when he agreed to accompany his father and brother back to their hometown. 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 Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
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. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Nation. She is the author of eight books, including the memoir Five Men Who Broke My Heart, which is currently optioned for film.
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