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Paperback S. : A Novel about the Balkans Book

ISBN: 0140298444

ISBN13: 9780140298444

S. : A Novel about the Balkans

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Book Overview

" S. may very well be one of the strongest books about war you will ever read. . . .The writing is taut, precise, and masterful." Set in 1992, during the height of the Bosnian war, S. reveals one of the most horrifying aspects of any war: the rape and torture of civilian women by occupying forces. S. is the story of a Bosnian woman in exile who has just given birth to an unwanted child--one without a country, a name, a father, or a language. Its birth...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The real horror of the Bosnia War

I found this book in the public library today, and almost finished it already. It's one of those books you can read in one session. It's about a young bosnian muslim woman, S.. She works in a school in a little bosnian village, when the Serbs come and deport her to a rape-camp, along with other women from her village. Somehow, she makes it to survive all this and she ends up in Zagreb/Croatia - in freedom. But there she finds out that she's pregnant - from one of those countless men who raped her in the camp. Drakulic succeeded to draw the atmosphere in such a camp, that you almost feel the fear of drunken soldiers coming to rape you. It's a shocking book, one that doesn't allow you to put it away anymore. You need strong nerves to read this book, but after you read it, you'll understand the suffering of the women during the Bosnia-war much better. It's really a book I'd recommend to everybody.

The Horrors of War

The sparse title of this book reflects the contents within. Slavenka Drakulic, a Croatian journalist turned writer, has given the world one of the sparsest, depressing novels of all time. It is a pity she's not better known because she is an excellent author. This book is one of several that she has written, and I suspect it might be her best one. I only came across this book because I noticed it was a book about the Balkans, an area in which I have an avid interest.The whole book is essentially the inner thoughts of S., a half Serb/half Muslim schoolteacher who finds herself caught up in the Bosnian war in the early 1990's. S. is abducted at gunpoint and sent to a camp where she quickly finds herself in the throes of dehumanization. S. and groups of other women are tormented by guards, denied adequate housing and food, and denied proper medical care. The book nosedives into insanity when S. is chosen to become an inmate of the "women's camp," a special brothel set up to service the soldiers of the camp. S. and others are routinely raped and tortured. Drakulic tells us the details, which I will not reproduce here for reasons of decency. S. survives the camp by becoming the girlfriend of the camp commander. Eventually, S. is freed through a prisoner exchange and ends up in Zagreb with a cousin and her family. S. doesn't want to stay and ends up hitting the refugee lottery by getting a visa to Sweden. Unfortunately for S., she discovers she is pregnant by one of the soldiers involved in the rapes. S. agonizes over her condition and decides to put the baby up for adoption. The end of the book can be seen as either happy or depressing, although I tend to see it as the former, a triumph over the inhumanity of war.Drakulic pulls no punches with this tale. The rapes are depicted in nauseating detail, as is the process of dehumanization practiced on all of the prisoners. Most jarring is the occasional mention of dates (can this really be happening in 1992? In Europe?). What Drakulic has essentially accomplished is shrinking down the process of war to the level of the individual. S. is one individual, and it staggers the mind to think there were thousands, or even millions, of stories analogous to hers. Certainly, referring to this character as "S." is a way of trying to illustrate this point. A name does not matter because so many are going through this trauma. The guards of the camp certainly don't care what her name is, nor do the people in charge of this war.This is a sick book full of depressing and grim stories. I'm still glad I read it, though. It is good to be reminded of war and its horrors. War is not parades and glory. War is the systematic dehumanization of one group of people by another (although both sides are often dehumanized in the process). Those of us who may live out our lives in peace because we live in the West should consider ourselves very lucky. To not have to go through the things described in this book is like winning a global l

You won't soon forget...

It is difficult to put into words how this book affected me. As a woman, it touches me to my very core. Slavenka Drakulic's honest portrayal of what some women suffered during the collapse of Yugoslavia is precise. At times it is absolutely unbearable. At times it is the most beautiful tale of human strength. It is definitely something to read about things that happen outside of our own lives. To look at these people and what they suffered is to take a step into a world that is entirely unfamiliar. Finally, I was able to grasp the severity of such conflicts that were often a sidebar on the nightly news when I was still a girl. The gravity of this book is devastating, but so forthright, it is impossible to stop reading. If you want to gain some perspective on the sufferings that occurred not to long ago, and are possibly still occurring to this day in certain parts of the former Yugoslavia, S. will definitely give you that perspective. Be prepared forever for an intense and graphic read. It will disturb you, and at times comfort, however, you won't be able to erase the images that Slavenka Drakulic superbly illustrates.

Brutally true

I rate this on a par with A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch and Primo Levy's Survival in Auschwitz. I've just spent 15 minutes trying to elaborate on that praise; I cannot.

The Most Brutally Honest Novel About War I've Read

I just wanted to write a review to balance out the 1 star that was given. This book is amazing in it's insight, honesty, and brutal truth about a war most Americans know little about. It's as if the author, a woman and a fine novelist, went through these ordeals first hand or at least had first hand knowledge of the atrocities of the war that was not only waged on the streets and in the countryside but upon bodies and human emotion.
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