My Name Is Bosnia

By (author): Madeleine Gagnon

Translated by: Howard Scott, Phyllis Aronoff

Sabaheta is a literature student at the University of Sarajevo when war breaks out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After her brother is taken from the family by armed thugs and her mother descends into madness, she goes into the forest with her father to join the guerrillas, where she dresses like a boy and fights side-by-side with the men.

When her father is killed in combat, Sabaheta gives him a makeshift funeral and vows one day to leave her homeland and seek a country where she can pursue her studies and live in peace. Although she is not an observant Muslim, she decides once again to wear the traditional headscarf, and changes her name to Bosnia, making her way alone to Sarajevo to reunite with her friends. After many months, having burned every available piece of furniture to keep warm, they are forced to burn their books, their most precious possessions. Chapter by chapter, they consign each book to memory before setting it alight, and then recite it by heart in front of the fire.

Finally escaping their genocidal homeland, they rise from its ashes of violence and hatred, remaking themselves in the images kept in their hearts of a fabled new life in a foreign land. My Name Is Bosnia is Madeleine Gagnon’s celebration of the power of the imagination to heal and remake our lives.

AUTHOR

Howard Scott

Howard Scott was born in southwestern Ontario and moved to Quebec in 1975. His translation of “L’Euguélionne” by Louky Bersianik won the Governor General Literary Award in 1997. He has translated many poetry, fiction, and non-fiction titles, often in collaboration with Phyllis Aronoff. In 2001, they won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award and in 2009 they were shortlisted for the Governor General Literary Award. He is a past president of the Literary Translators Association of Canada. He lives in Montreal.

AUTHOR

Phyllis Aronoff

Phyllis Aronoff, a Montrealer born and bred, translates from French to English, solo or with co-translator Howard Scott. She has translated fiction, poetry, memoirs, and works in the humanities by authors from Québec and France. Among her recent translations are Message Sticks / Tshissinuatshitakana, poems by Innu writer Joséphine Bacon, and novels (co-translated with Howard Scott) by Rima Elkouri and Edem Awumey. Her translations have won several prizes, including the Jewish Book Award for Fiction and, with Howard Scott, the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation. Phyllis is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and has represented translators on the Public Lending Right Commission of Canada.

AUTHOR

Madeleine Gagnon

Madeleine Gagnon has made a mark on Quebec literature as a poet, novelist, and non-fiction writer. Born in Amqui, a little village in the Matapedia Valley on Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, she decided at the age of twelve to be a writer, and after her early education with the Ursuline nuns, went on to study literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis at the Université de Montréal, the Sorbonne, and the Université d’Aix-en-Provence, where she received her doctorate. Since 1969, she has published over thirty books while at the same time teaching literature in several Quebec universities. Her work in all genres combines passion, lucidity, erudition, poetic vision, and political commitment, boldly transgressing the boundaries between poetry and prose. Among her many awards are the prestigious Athanase-David Prize (2002) for her lifetime body of work, the Governor General’s Award for Poetry (1990) for Chant pour un Québec lointain (translated by Howard Scott as Song for a Far Quebec), and the Journal de Montréal Prize (1986) for Les Fleurs du catalpa. Her work has also won international recognition, with many publications in France and some fifteen translations into English, Spanish and Italian. Nancy Huston has described Madeleine Gagnon as someone in whom the boundary between inner and outer life is porous; her words are poetry and her ear for the words of others is poetry too. Everything she takes in from the world is filtered, processed, transformed by the insistent rhythms of the songs within her.

Reviews

“Movingly captures the transformative effect of war on human consciousness …”
Publishers Weekly


“In Gagnon’s deft hands the narrative is stirring but never maudlin.”
Quill & Quire


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Excerpts & Samples ×

Sabaheta is a literature student at the University of Sarajevo when war breaks out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After her brother is taken from the family by armed thugs and her mother descends into madness, she goes into the forest with her father to join the guerrillas, where she dresses like a boy and fights side-by-side with the men.

When her father is killed in combat, Sabaheta gives him a makeshift funeral and vows one day to leave her homeland and seek a country where she can pursue her studies and live in peace. Although she is not an observant Muslim, she decides once again to wear the traditional headscarf, and changes her name to Bosnia, making her way alone to Sarajevo to reunite with her friends. After many months, having burned every available piece of furniture to keep warm, they are forced to burn their books, their most precious possessions. Chapter by chapter, they consign each book to memory before setting it alight, and then recite it by heart in front of the fire.

Finally escaping their genocidal homeland, they rise from its ashes of violence and hatred, remaking themselves in the images kept in their hearts of a fabled new life in a foreign land. My Name Is Bosnia is Madeleine Gagnon’s celebration of the power of the imagination to heal and remake our lives.

Reader Reviews

Details

Dimensions:

256 Pages
9in * 229mm * 6in * 152mm * 0.625in16mm
365gr
13oz

Published:

September 01, 2006

City of Publication:

Vancouver

Country of Publication:

CA

Publisher:

Talonbooks

ISBN:

9780889225428

9780889228979 – EPUB

9780889228610 – EPUB

9780889229174 – EPUB

9780889227217 – EPUB

9780889228412 – EPUB

Book Subjects:

FICTION / Literary

Featured In:

All Books

Language:

eng

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