Death in the Museum
Six stories by Alma Lazarevska, translated from the Bosnian by Celia Hawkesworth
• The Award for “Best Book of 1996” from the Society of Writers of Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Translated by the award-winning Celia Hawkesworth (short-listed for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize & winner of the Heldt Prize for Translation, for Dubravka Ugrešić’s ‘The Culture of Lies’)
A tender and revealing set of stories by the uniquely delicate Bosnian writer, Alma Lazarevska. Avoiding the easy traps of politics and blame, Lazarevska reveals a world full of incidents and worries so similar to our own, and yet always under the shadow of the snipers and the bombs that we know are out there and that occasionally impinge on the story in shocking ways. One of the finest works to have emerged from the tragedy that was the siege of Sarajevo.
''Often regarded as one of the pioneers of women’s war writing in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lazarevska represents an alternative to the heroic war discourse, the traditional way of writing about wars.''
Read one of the stories in the collection -
“Lazarevska’s intelligence and imagination in 'Death in the Museum of Modern Art' make it a brilliant, engaging work of fiction.”
“I say that one writer is already great, and if not [already] great, will be great—Alma Lazarevska… With a few metaphors, tremendously powerful ones, she says it all…''
Abdulah Sidran, novelist.
''Nothing, not even history itself, prepares the reader for the paralysing beauty of the images that emerge from these stories written by a Bosnian survivor of the siege of Sarajevo.''
Eileen Battersby, Best Books of 2014, Irish Times
''Lazarevska’s deceptively simple and spare style is perfectly suited to the un-showy, non-indignant gradual reveal of horrors. The translation by Celia Hawkesworth closely captures the delicate nuances of the original: nearly every sentence is imbued with double meaning, so much is left unsaid. There is a poetic silence between sentences, between trains of thought, mimicking perhaps the silence after mortar attacks. The stories will reward close reading or, better still, close re-reading. Death may be the first word in its title, but the book is really about the triumph of life.''
''This is an important collection of stories, the tales from a part of the world that we rarely see literature translated, taking place during an important time in world history. This year we had Hassan Blasim’s “The Iraqi Christ” taking out the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize with Judge Boyd Tonkin saying, “a decade after the Western invasion and occupation of Iraq, that country’s writers are exploring the brutal and chaotic aftermath of war and tyranny with ever-growing confidence.” Similarly in this work of short stories, we have Alma Lazarevska using “fearless candour and rule-busting artistry”, slightly surreal, slightly cryptic but with the siege of Sarajevo always bubbling in the background.''
Review from Messenger's Booker (and more)
''Alma Lazarevska's prose focuses on detail, carries us into the room or street, expression, object, shadow, that is being described so that we see it with a clarity that can be breathtaking. This is the kind of writing that makes me pause frequently, to give it time to percolate into mind and being, its richness, its use of metaphor, its concentration and elaboration on what is described can provoke the layers and possibilities and intensities of poetry.''
Morelle Smith, Rivertrain
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