Monday, July 21, 2014

The Bosnia List

One good thing about being in a book club is that it encourages me to read books I would normally never pick up.  My sister, who is currently stationed in Bosnia, selected this book.  The topic of the book, as Muslims, makes it resonate that much more.  Sadly, the author’s attitude shine through the book, making it more about how he is a 12-year old in a 30-year old body.

The novel is broken up into present and past segments.  Mr. Trebincevic was 12 years old when Serbian leader Slobodan Milosovic decided that ethnic cleansing was the way to purge Muslims from Serbia.  What follows is Mr. Trebincevic account of things as seen through his eyes at 12, but also how he never once let go of the feelings of hatred that were placed.  I won’t deny that what he lives through is not devastating.  Watching people who used to be your friends turn on you and try to kill you would scar anyone, but that is what therapists are for.

The information, taken out of the blind revenge Mr. Trebincevic displays throughout, is horrifying.  Muslims were corralled and quarantined, killed at the drop of a hat, brutalized for fun and all in the name of an insane leader.  Sounds familiar?  It should, and yet as even I look back, few if any nations stepped in to stop any of it from happening.  What I learned most from this book was that what happened in Bosnia was allowed to happen by the nations of the world.  And while I would hate to talk politics further, what is happening in Israel seems eerily similar, save that the Muslims there are able to fight back, though they’re fight Goliath, who has the backing of some of the strongest nations in the world.

There was a curious discovery I made early on in the book, while his family was Muslim in name, it didn’t sound like they practiced any of the tenants of Islam and this made their punishment almost that much worse since they were hardly Muslim at all.  By the end of the novel, the only thing that Mr. Trebincevic did that followed Islamic rules was not eating pork.  He did not pray five times a day, he did not fast during the holy month, he did not seem familiar with reading the holy book.  This colored the book further for me.

I feel like a history book might have been a better source of information than Mr. Trebincevic rabid vengeance and his desire to tell of anyone who did him wrong.  At one point during the narrative, his father and brother are taken to a camp, presumably to be killed, yet neither of them exhibited the same blind hatred that the author did.  I can’t presume to understand how he might have felt, but he had no forgiveness in his heart and had no gratitude for surviving the harrowing experience.  Instead of being thankful for being alive, having a great job, parents that sacrificed everything so they could have a decent living, Mr. Trebincevic did nothing but grouse and complain about how unfair his life had been.  I am sure there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims who would gladly have traded places with him.  It is hard to sympathize, or empathize, with an author when he displays such a great amount of arrogance.  It isn’t until the very end of the book that he sounds, still petulant, but realizes he might have been the lucky one.  You think?  If you read this book, the information and story of Bosnian Muslims deserves to be told, I just wish it had been done by someone who wasn’t so unpleasant and ungrateful as Mr. Trebincevic.

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