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How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone

by Sasa Stanisic

It took me two attempts to get going - but I urge you not to give up on this book. It’s a tough call – cruelty, suffering, frequent time shifts and no dialogue punctuation, but it was worth it and I'm glad I persevered. The author brings the Yugoslavian conflict to life in a vivid and powerful way, exploring the guilt felt by Alexsandar on leaving his young friend to face the war without him.

Extract

The synagogue was gutted. They carted everything out on the frozen lake, the Torah scrolls, my tefillin, my kippa, the Talmud, the old, old books, and when the synagogue was as empty as their hearts they dragged me over the snow and ice by my legs and tied me to the Torah shrine in the middle of the lake, don't you worry, Jew, spring will come soon, they laughed, and they called to me from the bank to make sure that I could see every girl before they flung her into the synagogue, so that I'd have seen her alive before they brought her out to me, dead, hours or days later.

Parallels

The Fall of Yugoslavia by Misha Glenny
The Impossible Country : Journey through the last days of Yugoslavia by Brian Hall
In the Hold by Vladimir Arsenijevic
 

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