Book Review- Rose of Sarajevo by Ayse Kulin

Wars have always ripped asunder the lives of the common people .Most wars in history are an outcome of the wanton ambitions of a few , strange delusions of many  and the helplessness of the majority .The West remained a disinterested witness to the conflict of the Balkans ( the Kosovo Crisis , The Seige of Sarajevo , The genocide and ethnic cleansing  of Bosnian Moslems ) despite the untold sufferings and the horror stories that emerged from the region . It was for this sole reason that I picked up this book to read . And Ayse Kulin did not disappoint !The Book was an intensely emotional experience for me .

The story revolves around the Lives of Nimeta , her husband Burhan , her kids , and her lover Stephan . It is difficult to not feel a connection to Nimeta as her orderly life falls into disarray because of the war ,the impossible love affair that she has with Stephan , a fellow journalist and the effort to maintain the semblance of normalcy for the kids . Though flawed , she fights with all she has to salvage her family . Shackled by the love and sense of duty towards her family , her turmoil is in some ways a microcosm of the external turmoil .

Ayse Kulin has meticulously researched the history of the region and the details shine through in the book . The author has also included some bits of history as well that set the political stage for the later events .For those readers who are not familiar with the politics / political readers of those troubled times , the first part of the book may seem like a lesson in non-fiction . But the chilling part is that most it is true . What also stood out in the second part is the altering of the multiethnic, multicultural ,socio-religious tapestry of the region . There has been a good attempt to document the  almost clinical approach of the Serbs to annihilate the Bosnian Moslems . The gruesome details of the rape camps , the work camps , the genocide and the mass graves are a true representation and bring home the horrific  tragedy that unfolded in the region .

The second part is gripping and keeps the reader hooked . The end though is a little disappointing and abrupt . However I decided to overlook that little letdown in favor of the rest .

The writing style is impeccable and endears the author to the readers .

I must also make mention of the title here “Rose of Sarajevo” . This actually is used to refer to the red resin filled scars of mortar shells on concrete . When mortar shells fall on concrete , they tend to form a unique pattern that resembles a floral arrangement . When filled with red resin , it looks like a rose . Hence the name “Rose of Sarajevo” .

Recommend it highly .

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