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My Name Is Bosnia
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Monday March 29, 2010 in Books

My Name Is Bosnia

By Madeleine Gagnon
Translated by Phyllis Aronoff & Howard Scott

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.

The war continues to take its deadly toll on those close to her, and Bosnia finally decides to leave her genocidal homeland. She makes a new life in Canada, where she finds a measure of happiness. My Name Is Bosnia is Madeleine Gagnon’s celebration of the power of the imagination to heal and remake our lives.

ISBN 13: 9780889225428 | ISBN 10: 889225427
5.5 W x 8.5 H x 1 D inches | 256 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Rights: France
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
1 Edition

QUOTES OF NOTE

"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

AWARDS

IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Longlist, 2007

About the Contributors

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.

Phyllis Aronoff

Phyllis Aronoff translates fiction, non-fiction, and poetry from French to English. The Wanderer, her translation of Régine Robin’s La Québécoite, received the 1998 Jewish Literary Award for fiction. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, co-translated with Howard Scott, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Howard Scott, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Phyllis Aronoff is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and currently represents translators on the Public Lending Right Commission of Canada.

Howard Scott

Howard Scott is a Montreal literary translator who works with fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. His translations include works by Madeleine Gagnon, science-fiction writer Élisabeth Vonarburg, and Canada’s Poet Laureate, Michel Pleau. Scott received the Governor General’s Literary Award for his translation of Louky Bersianik’s The Euguelion. The Great Peace of Montreal of 1701, by Gilles Havard, which he co-translated with Phyllis Aronoff, won the Quebec Writers’ Federation Translation Award. A Slight Case of Fatigue, by Stéphane Bourguignon, another co-translation with Phyllis Aronoff, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Howard Scott is a past president of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada.


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