Read Esquirlas by Ismet Prcic Online


«No duermo bien. Casi no duermo. Sueño que voy a la universidad y liquido a la gente con un kalashnikov. Sueño que lanzo granadas por la ventanilla de mi coche. Sueño que disparan contra mí. No he podido ir a un médico de verdad, porque aquí tienes que estar asegurado o pagar a tocateja, así que fui a un tal doctor Cyrus, u n médico voluntario del campus, y me recetó sedan«No duermo bien. Casi no duermo. Sueño que voy a la universidad y liquido a la gente con un kalashnikov. Sueño que lanzo granadas por la ventanilla de mi coche. Sueño que disparan contra mí. No he podido ir a un médico de verdad, porque aquí tienes que estar asegurado o pagar a tocateja, así que fui a un tal doctor Cyrus, u n médico voluntario del campus, y me recetó sedantes, que tomo como caramelos.Dice que tengo un trastorno de estrés postraumático. Dice que las pastillas son solo una solución a corto plazo y que, para mejorar realmente, necesito situar mi experiencia en un marco más amplio, un marco que me ayude a darle sentido a todo. Fue él quien me dio la idea de escribir unas memorias. Le pregunté qué debía escribir para que esa terapia diera resultado y dijo: “Escríbelo todo.” Le pregunté por dónde debía empezar y dijo: “Empieza por el principio.”»«Todo» es, desde luego, un singular conjunto de recuerdos, confesiones y ficciones; humorística evocación de la infancia en Bosnia y despachos atroces de una Tuzla sitiada. Cartas llenas de angustia a la madre sobre la vida en el nuevo mundo, fragmentos desde el exilio firmados por un tal Ismet Prcic, esquirlas de alguien llamado como él.Espléndida novela de formación, testimonio veraz y perturbador de una guerra, Esquirlas es también es un libro de autoayuda, al menos para la primera persona que lo escribe. Porque contarlo «todo» previene la locura. Pero también puede convocarla...

Title : Esquirlas
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788493881764
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 450 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Esquirlas Reviews

  • Nancy
    2019-04-28 11:02

    Posted at Shelf InflictedI enjoy gripping, personal stories about surviving hardship during war, the mundane details of life that go on despite such major upheaval, and fitting in and finding one’s identity in a foreign land. This fragmented tale is told from multiple perspectives, that of Ismet while he is living in California, Ismet growing up in war-torn Bosnia, and another Bosnian teenager named Mustafa whose experiences fuse with Ismet’s so strongly that it is difficult to tell what is real and what is imaginary. It is brilliant, unsettling, funny, and beautiful. It is also somewhat lacking in focus and felt too long in places. There were gorgeous, moving passages like this one:"It was like we were driven to put that frame in front of us. To make a difference on those people’s faces, you know. Something. We let it sit in our laps, held it erect, and ceased all movement. We became a painting, staring out through the frame into the real world. And soon the real people stopped to stare at us, the painting, forgetting for a moment about the war, the oppressive psychosis that permeated everything. People have to look at art no matter what. A bunch of children swarmed around us trying to catch a facial twitch and laughed giddily, waved their little hands in front of our eyes, and scratched their little heads when we wouldn’t think. Adults mostly stared from a distance, wondering why anybody would do this. Two elderly men with their hands behind their backs looked at us with brutal disgust, shaking their heads like the end of the world was coming and we were somehow responsible. And it would all have been an exercise in craft, a spur-of-the-moment performance-art piece, something nobody would remember for long, had it not started shelling and had we not, in our madness, remained motionless in spite of it, among the mad-dashing citizens."Laugh-out-loud funny passages like this:"I was the first one up there in my tighty-whities, screaming giddily, staring one moment at the blue sky, the next at my white feet slapping the hard surface of the white cement, until the whiteness ended abruptly in a horizontal line and I found myself airborne above the blue, beneath the blue, in the blue and going up, up, up, I swear to God I would have been the first human to really fly had I not remembered, going up into the blue like that, that all my money was rolled up in a tobacco pouch hanging next to a pouch of another kind in my underwear."And other passages that were a jumbled, pretentious mess. My favorite parts of the book were the stories about Ismet’s childhood in Bosnia, the heartbreaking stories of his depressed, chain-smoking mother and cheating father, the sweet stories of first love, and the funny stories about his acting in theatre.I really hate the derogatory use of the word “pussy” to mean cowardly, and found the author used it frequently enough to annoy me and take me out of the story a few times. Through his characters, real and imaginary, the author shows how difficult it can be to adjust to a new way of life. Though not a perfect story, it was a compelling one.

  • Michael
    2019-05-07 11:46

    Harrowing, hilarious, and wonderfully experimental, this is a terrific novel that captures the absurd brutalities of war.

  • Lakis Fourouklas
    2019-05-21 13:48

    The author is a Bosnian-American. As we read in his website he used to be just a Bosnian, but then he learned some English and they gave him a piece of paper that said that he now was an American. However, if we are to judge from this novel that comes out next week in the US, we’d say that he truly and simply is a writer from the Balkans, since in this he talks about all the big issues facing the region: the civil wars and the refugees, immigration and religion, which tends to bring people apart instead of together. His narration moves in a handful of parallel levels and takes the reader on a time travelling journey, in order to make him understand in a unique way how his story, or rather history works. The main characters are just two: Ismet and Mustafa. But does Mustafa really exist or is he just a fabrication, someone created in the imagination of Ismet? Well, according to the story he does exist, but bits and pieces of evidence we encounter once in a while seem to indicate the opposite, or rather that he’s just the alter ego of the narrator. Ismet has never been to war, has never fought, while Mustafa has; Ismet has travelled abroad, while Mustafa has not; Ismet is alive, while Mustafa is dead. Or is he now? The author by creating a complicated plot he seems to play with the reader and with time, to abolish boundaries, to built certainties just to bring them crashing down, and to say that everything is possible, even that which is most improbable. His two heroes seem to complement each other, to subconsciously bring their beings together in order to create the ideal, under the dire circumstances, man; a man that loves a lot and hates just as much; that struggles and who runs away scared; that dreams of a beautiful life but constantly flirts with death. The tribal and religious zealotries, the crooked politicians, the endless corruption and the non-stop cheating, but also true love, are some of the big issues that are talked about here. Using black humor as his vehicle the author throws his heroes into extreme and extremely hilarious situations, he hits and caresses them, he indicates for them the way they need to follow before tripping them up. It seems that what he’s silently trying to convey is that at the end of the day nothing is up to them. Some of them do manage to survive and build better lives for themselves; most though don’t, and thus they end up perishing under the ruins of war and the memories of a long gone past. However, even those who do survive don’t really make a clean run out of their past since wherever they go they always carry along with them their ghosts, whether these are successful or failed love affairs, whether they are some personal guilts or even their inability to enjoy life without the help of various substances. Everybody coming out of a war is a loser, no matter what. “It had begun with politicians fighting on television,” Ismet says, and before too long the former friends started turning on each other and the reality of people of different origins living happily together proved in the end to be nothing but an illusion. The author manages to construct, with the help of diary clippings, memories and oral accounts, the mosaic of some shattered lives, of people sacrificed on the altar of the insanity of war. Through this fluid and every now and then poetic narrative the reader comes to find out some things about the history of certain peoples, about borders and countries created by blood. This is one of the best novels I have read this year so far, and I did read a lot. Highly recommended.

  • Matt
    2019-04-30 18:46

    If we can say that a book’s symbols are symptoms of the ill it seeks cured, then puking in Ismet Prcic’s great first novel, Shards, literalizes the idea. People are often puking in Shards, at the centers and peripheries of scenes. The book's central obsession isn't emetic, but it is there with enough persistence to suggest its importance, and no wonder. Puking declares a problem in how the inside relates to the outside, a trouble maintaining that boundary. This is an appropriate metaphor for the story of a character coming of age in a city under siege, where the maintenance and dissolution of boundaries forms the main idiom of life⎯-shells penetrate apartments, bullets open bodies; families find new divisions, neighbors learn to hate; friends and lovers discover the lines that separate them, who may leave, who must stay.These suggest the difficulties the book’s narrator and main character, Izzy, faces as he suffers into adolescence in Tuzla, a city held by siege during the Bosnian civil war. Erratic shelling targets the city, and sniper fire takes its toll⎯around him, very real people occasionally become very actually dead. Though the war’s full atavistism and horror remains beyond the city’s borders, it is well-documented on TV. Against this, despite it, the boy must grow up. He has an experimental theatre group and an over-wrought teenage romance with which to help him fashion an identity, but even those are seamed by war. His mother’s mental health erodes. His father detaches from the family. The narrator hopes for better--to escape, to be free of the war--but does so almost mechanically, as though he’s obligated but can’t imagine why. And under this pressure, the narrator splits--there is Izzy, the self who manages to derring-do his way out of Bosnia and into America; and there is Mustafa, Izzy’s other, the one who remains in the mother country to fight in the war. Izzy nearly swallows his shame for having escaped but then has to puke it all up in writing; Mustafa’s fate is less clear. As the book moves towards its end, it more or more refuses to prioritize the distinction between the two stories, the two characters. The lines blur until the blur becomes the message. What difference does it make, finally, to have escaped from a war where people you love were left behind and, one way or another, lost? In what way are you still you? Escape from your demented homeland may save you, the book seems to argue, but it will also undo you, orphan you, exile you even from yourself.

  • Terri Jacobson
    2019-05-07 10:43

    I have to say at the beginning, I have a special interest in books about Bosnia, Serbia, and the whole area of the Balkans. It's been such an area of conflict in modern times. Following the breakup of Yugoslavia, many conflicts, wars, terrorism, and war crimes took place. This area experienced the first case of genocide since World War II. The siege of Sarajevo took place from 5 April 1992-29 February 1996--the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare.(...shards...) is the story of Ismet Prcic, a young man caught up in the brutality and conflict in his country. He escapes Bosnia for California, but he is having symptoms of PTSD. He is advised by a therapist to write down all his experiences and feelings to make sense of them. The novel then becomes quite interesting: Ismet begins writing letters to his mother as a form of remembrance; he also writes his experiences in the form of a diary. As he writes, a new character emerges--Mustafa, a young man who stayed in Bosnia to join the special forces and fight for his country. Where are these memories coming from? Is this guilt or reality? Is the author of the book, Ismet Prcic, the same as the character Ismet Prcic in the book? Some of the answers are never quite clear.The story is compelling and told with gritty reality. Ismet is a likable young man, and I sympathized with him all the way. I was a little lost in some parts of the book, but overall, I quite enjoyed it. 3.5 stars.

  • Garry
    2019-05-18 15:04

    My enjoyment of a book is influenced by my mood when I read it. I was definitely in a great place when I finished this one (a tropical island off the coast of Cambodia), but it would have been a 5 star favourite nonetheless. Shards is an autobiographical story of a Bosnian refugee, and a tight and tense one at that. But it is more than this - it's speaks of how it feels to be a person touched by war, to be a family separated and broken by conflict, to have the guilt of a survivor, to struggle to adapt to freedom.The central story is an account of how the author came to defect to America, and his descent once he gets there. It is interwoven with the story of Mustafa, who stayed behind and fought. Mustafa may have been a real person, but his story is almost certainly fiction - as played out in Prcic's mind - and he represents the author's sense of his 'better self'. We also read short letters that the author wrote to his mother but never posted... letters in which he displays his unravelling mind.I have made Shards sound like a very difficult book to read. It's not! Prcic treats his depressing subject matter with such a light touch that it never sinks. He weaves his story in an incredibly complex fashion, but does so in a way that it never feels out of reach. He is painfully open, but remains slightly (and sufficiently) detatched. This is a very readable novel from a talented writer.

  • Ben
    2019-05-04 14:51

    I can't think of another book that could be so aptly described as VISCERAL. People get eviscerated, viscera are exposed, and the writing itself originates in the visceral realm of the gut. That's why a book this sad can also be this funny. There's a thin veneer between what's inside and outside--the book is full of puke, piss, and blood--and what's inside of a person is always trying to get out, to paraphrase Denis Johnson. It's hard to keep up a facade when you're being pierced by shards, blown into shards, or when you are a shard.

  • Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
    2019-05-17 12:06

    When it comes to war, to memories and the intensity of one's experience, "Shards" were simply amazing. The war is real, it stays forever and there's nowhere to hide from it. Ismet Prcic is a living proof of it.

  • Katherine
    2019-05-09 15:08

    “ 'Indian or Italian?'“'Bosnian,' I told him.“He rolled his eyes.“'To eat! Do you want Indian food or Italian food for dinner?'“I wanted to stomp on my own balls” (14).“I'd rather throw myself eyeball first into a cactus” (21).“...Dr. Cyrus he laughed, said that what I was experiencing was normal, that our brains are peculiar computers that constantly augment and even edit true events out of our memory when those events do not fit into the narrative that we tell to ourselves every day, the narrative of our own lives.“We're all heroes of our bullshit is how he put it” (22).“The moment Marshal Tito died I shat myself. These incidents were not connected” (25).“The sight of people buying ice cream, pulling their tongues around and over it, savoring its frosty succulence, never failed to give me a boner of a sweet tooth” (31-32).“She's American. She goes to church. She wears a cross right where her freckles disappear into her cleavage” (41).“...she was the one doing the majority of the physical work because of my father's supposed bad back and actual laziness” (47).“It Freudian-slipped into our words and belly danced in our dreams” (58)."Mustafa's grandfather was born in a shed. The shed was right next to a puny, derelict hosue, where the rest of his family sat in a miserable silence. They were awaiting this newest addition to the already swarming Nalic household with dread. The room was pungent with smoke from a malfunctioning chimney, and all of their bellies crackled with need. When she brought him into the house the family looked at him and saw not a son or a brother but an enemy" (85).“I don't recognize my hometown, mati. I'm standing right in front of my graffiti-covered high school and I miss Moorpark College. And Moorpark backward is Kraproom” (94).“For this statement to make sense you have to understand the nature of the Yugoslavian brand of Communism. Take architects, for example. Say a public building is to be made. In Communism it's not the best architect who gets to make the building; it's the guy (almost always a man) with seniority in the Party who happens to be an architect that gets to make the building. And to get seniority you have to kiss a lots of ass, sit on committees for stuff you know nothing about, endure years of boring speeches, write and deliver years of boring speeches, and get drunk nightly with the bigwigs to show that you're involved in both the community and its social life. By then you're 98 percent bureaucrat and 2 percent architect. This is the reason why the public buildings in the Balkans all look like filing cabinets and why, in turn, they are almost always called 'homes' (Home of Health, Home of the Youth, Home of the Workers, Home of the Army): to evoke that warm feeling inside to compensate for their actual soullessness. It's shit in your mouth, but officially it's called ice cream” (97).“Around 4:30, that lazy calm Sunday feeling washed over me like rage, ironed my brow, and corseted my thoughts. It happened while watching my hamster spin his wheel of misfortune, relentlessly” (100).“I shook my head. The shit you do to try to kill the butterflies” (104).“I didn't know that time could be so dense, so true, and that a sliver of it could envelop you like that, overpower you. 'Then' was as dense as 'now' is fleeting. I was are of 'then' as I wish I were aware of 'now' right now instead of writing about then; it's pathetic” (104).“Shit was a-brew, I could just see it” (105).“He went from age twenty-five to five in an instant, bawling at the injustice and ignorance, at the malice of people who knew only profit and wouldn't know art if Dali signed their limp, melting dicks” (107).“While holding my breath, I fought off my brain by stuffing myself with words people wrote, beverages people distilled, and sleeping pills people manufactured” (112).“Memories are nothing like tapes. Tapes record reality. Minds record fiction” (119).“...this child's drawing would walk toward me, evolving into an impressionistic painting, then into a realistic one, then become a scene from an Easter European film with blatant social realism that made me want to shoot myself” (125).“When, finally, she did turn from a blob into herself, right on time, by the way...” (125).“Her instructions got eaten up by billows of laughter from a number of newly matured voice boxes, something that couldn't be said for their owners” (139).“ 'How can you be so disgusting?' She tried to sound like a disappointed mother.“ 'Inspiration'” (139).“Everything but the river returned to silence” (151).“You could see he preferred the front lines, where the world was divided into us and them and you lived in your muscles instead of your head because matters were crystal clear and nothing was up for interpretation and there was no need to use the head at all apart from planning maneuvers, dreaming, and remembering” (174-175).“...faces made of misery, eyes made of empty” (178).“A slothful, hungover rain tapped them on the shoulders as they waited for the trucks to take them to the front line” (196).“There was something about him, a veneer of divorced guys in cheap motels on rainy afternoons, staring into swirls of wallpaper and throttled dreams” (197).“He touched the rim of his cap casually, as if checking to see whether he had put it on at all this morning” (198).“At first he was going to let it be, since he didn’t have to walk for a while and he was fed up with tying them all the time, but the little insects of compulsion gnawed at this thoughts, reminding him that untied laces were in an unnatural state, that the universe ached because of it, that he had to do something about that” (200).“…his face ablaze with fever; you could light a cigarette on his cheek. They set him down like a repossessed dresser and gave the driver the green light to go” (210).“In Bosnian this last sentence rhymed: Menji je zao, al tako ti je grah pao, sort of a fatalistic little rhyme illustrating one’s lack of power in the ways of the universe” (214).“…an eroded loaf of bread…” (226).“Out on the upper deck the wind bore down on us, nabbed at our cigarettes, smoked them for us” (232).“No, I had never before that day seen fireworks. Neither had Ramona, nor Omar, nor Boro. Asmir and the musicians were older. They remembered with fully formed adult bodies and minds life before the war. Before chaos, they’d known order, before senselessness, sense. They were really out of Bosnia because leaving chaos to them felt like returning to normalcy. But, if you were forged in the chaos, then there was no return. There was no escape. To you chaos was normalcy. And normalcy was proving to be an unnatural, brittle state” (240).“I looked at my white breath against the gray building across the street and thought about mankind, about how hot we had to be on the inside to survive in such cold environs” (249).“He looked like a child, or a father who had lost one” (250).“She didn’t even bother to answer his questions anymore, probably because he was asking them in Bosnian” (273).“…her face austere, almost disgusted, her nose pointing down to her chin and her chin commendably reciprocating” (284)."His smirk returned but this time with undergarments of malice" (299)."Had a bunch of cops tried to deport me when I left the theater, I would have gone through them like Mel Gibson through a carload of wet cardboard cutouts..." (304)."...a page from a newspaper bullied by a particularly ardent gust..." (305)."A range of feelings and thoughts about those feelings walked to the proscenium of her face, posed for a moment, and then walked off the runway to be replaced by the next one" (306).“There’s a brawny fellow tinkering inside the gaping crocodile mouth of an El Camino in a driveway…” (317).“…and everything is a mess and clustered against the cyclorama of colorful junk mail offering junk food and junk dreams for prices a junky could afford…” (334).“In that darkness I wish I am elsewhere, or elseone, and I let go” (342).“Now, the sad thing is that some pieces of this nothing thought themselves up, imagined themselves up, then thought up and imagined and created this thing called reality. These little nothings got very caught up in all this reality they invented, and made it very complex and cyclical, so much so that it made them forget that they were really, in essence, still nothing. It made them stupid. It made them real” (378).*Also included is the following quote from Samuel Beckett: “…a story is not compulsory, just a life, that’s the mistake I made, one of the mistakes, to have wanted a story for myself, whereas life alone is enough.”

  • Jennifer
    2019-05-11 19:05

    In beginning a description of Ismet Prcic's (pronounced Per-Sick) debut novel "Shards" I first must mention that novel is filled with stories, scenes, and characters that are truly enjoyable to read and range from heartbreaking to humorous. But what really makes the book stand apart was Prcic's fluid nature of storytelling that made the novel *novel* for me.The bulk of the Story is set in 1990's Bosnia, where Prcic comes of age the war ravaged city of Tuzla. It is in Bosnia that his stories are the most common and can resonate with any Young Adult. While the war rages, Ismet (main character of the same name of our author) and his friends carry on and live like most teenage boys caught up in girls, drugs, and under the sway of a charismatic theater director.The main action of the story centers around Ismet's flight from Bosnia to be sponsored by his uncle in California, but it is when he arrives in California that Ismet begins to come unglued, suffering from insomnia, alcoholism, memories from the war, and beginning to fuse his memories and identity with Mustafa- a young man (or figment of Ismet's imagination?) that fought in the war and serves as Ismet's mirror image. Prcic alternates between Mustafa's and Ismet's story and the reader is left uncertain what is 'real' and what is fiction- where Mustafa ends and Ismet begins.Not only was it refreshing to read about a time an place that I'm largely unfamiliar with- but Prcic's style plays fast and loose with the conventions of story telling. Is it a memoir or a novel? Will the real Ismet Prcic please stand up? The story delightfully sends you 'round the bend with Mustafa's and Ismets shared and diverging histories- and strangely was reminiscent of the main character(s) of 'Fight Club'- complete with a killer ending.Note: This is a Goodread First Readhttp://sometimesjenniferreads.wordpre...

  • Amy
    2019-05-11 11:44

    I find myself wanting to write an amazing review to really do justice to this book - one of the best I've read in a long time - but there's no real way to do it justice.I loved it. I'm not just saying that because I know the author. (If I hated it, I'd just *forget* to review it.)This book was such a great story - the protagonist, who confusingly has the same name as the author - is putting together the pieces of his life. He grew up in Yugoslavia & lived through the beginnings of the Bosnian War before emigrating to the US (Los Angeles, specifically) at the age of 18 instead of joining the army. The secondary protagonist, Mustafa, did not leave Bosnia, but instead DID join the army, which didn't necessary go well for him (and why would it?). It was thought-provoking and honest - for all that it's a work of fiction masquerading as a memoir. (That was the hardest part for me, really...I found myself being VERY concerned with the pieces that talk about Melissa - character Ismet's California girlfriend. I had to remind myself a LOT that this was fiction.)The language and imagery is fantastic. I could see and feel more than I wanted to; it wasn't easy to escape the stark glimpses of a post-Soviet, war-torn country. I found myself being impressed that the language was so fantastic, especially since the author did not, I presume, grow up reading/writing/speaking English. (And for all that I know the author and know that he speaks English fluently.)So - read it. You won't be sorry, I promise.

  • Nathan
    2019-05-06 18:51

    How does one define himself, and find an identity? These are questions that are hard enough in a "normal" life - ideas that one continues to explore through out his life. Now, imagine a life torn apart by war, foreign travel/escape, and the effort to reestablish yourself as a war-torn immigrant in your early twenties. This sets the stage for Shards, by Ismet Prcic. The main character, also Ismet Prcic, is faced with the choice of leaving his family in civil-war-torn Bosnia for a chance at a new life in the States. The narrative, however, is not linear. Rather, we get "shards" of the story as told through journal entries, much like shards of shrapnel scattered by a mortar. There is an apt comparison in the book about a young neighborhood boy going around to collect pieces of shrapnel to try and recreate a whole mortar, which we know is impossible. And so Ismet, on his journey away from family and to the States, attempts to piece together his identity and memory while his life is falling apart. Ismet writes about a parallel character named Mustafa, who's life looks suspiciously similar to Ismet's, but he chooses to stay and fight in the war. These characters' lives run closer and closer together as the book proceeds, and the reader is left questioning which is real. This is a beautiful, brutal book, that is part memoir and part fiction. The writing will have you glued, and the imagery in the middle of the action. You won't be disappointed, but maybe frustrated as I was, left questioning what was real and what was imagined.

  • Francesca
    2019-05-19 15:48

    3.5/5Il romanzo di debutto, Schegge, di Ismet Prcic non è una semplice storia, ma è una sorta di resoconto, talora allucinatorio, ma sempre brutale e straziante, della sua esperienza attraverso la guerra della (ex) Jugoslavia: e Prcic, musulmano bosniaco, nato nel 1977 a Tuzla, attraverso la scrittura cerca di dare senso, se mai uno possa esservene, a quel trauma, di oggettivarlo per tentare di superarlo.Schegge, già il titolo avverte, non è una storia lineare, benché non prepari per quanto verrà descritto nelle successive pagine.Durante tutto il libro, siamo nella mente del protagonista Ismet Prcic, che spesso sembra essere sdoppiato in due persone: una è Ismet, conosciuto negli Stati Uniti come Izzy, che forse ha commesso suicidio o forse potrebbe essere ancora vivo nella persona di un secondo personaggio, il suo alter ego, Mustafa Nalic.Non è mai chiaro se i personaggi siano effettivamente due, uno solo, o altri – forse sono tutte le vittime di quella tregenda, ciascuna con la propria storia, etnia, religione, ma tutti altrettanto e ugualmente umani.Leggi la recensione

  • Kris Fernandez-everett
    2019-04-22 11:59

    not a book to be read lightly... not only does the title give away much about the style of the book itself, but these are not themes that are at all light and frothy... no one is kidding when they say this book is as much about the absurdity of life -- and there are some passages which forced me into a double take because the mood, the atmosphere reminded me so much of camus and 'the stranger' -- as it is about the futility of war and the ridicule of the state (yes, there's some kafka mixed in here too)... the juxtaposition of ismet's experience -- outside -- with mustafa's experience -- inside -- couldn't do anything but benefit into some kind of melding into one double sided coin -- and so it does... a fabulous read, but one that you MUST concentrate on the whole way through -- narrators change, time jumps around, perspective changes... frankly, just about every convention there is to mess with gets a pretty serious work-out in this novel... highly recommended...

  • Sandra Delehanty
    2019-05-11 18:48

    There are very few books I cannot put down; this was one. Having experienced first-hand post traumatic symptoms relative to my own upbringing and then later, treated PTSD as a psychologist, I foundShards a moving and well written account of the experience. It is not enough to describe intrusive memories or emotional numbing in clinical terms for the average person to "get it". Being in it makes a person feel crazy. Reading Ismet's diary, Mustafa's story, and seeing through the young author's eyes what it is to "come of age" in war time Bosnia is breathtaking. And funny. Very funny. Funny as only young men trying to be cool when they are so not cool can be funny. I could not help loving Izzie. An excellent read.

  • Magmary
    2019-05-17 18:49

    Both heart breaking and heart warming. I like to read when I'm at the gym and this book is keeping me on the elliptic machine longer and longer because it is so hard to put down. Finished the book last month and read it again. It has so many layers that a second read was well worth it. This book will be in my top 10 favorite books that I have ever read.

  • Josiah Miller
    2019-05-11 15:55

    This is a solid novel that gives good insight to a culture and history that is so near yet so far away. Good experimentation with narrative and a story with quite memorable scenes that require attention. There are definitely connections to be made that demand a re-read. I was not a big fan of the ending to the narrator but I was satisfied with the ending to the novel and it's form.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-05-11 15:47

    I read the first 50 pages to speed date the book (and decide if I wanted to keep it or toss it) and I wanted to just burrow down and keep reading. The tone moves quickly between light-hearted and devastating, and the honesty of the narrator (is it the author? jury seems out) is sometimes funny, sometimes surprising. I hope he doesn't keep vomiting. I'll keep reading!

  • Lee
    2019-05-22 18:10

    So well written. The war in Bosnia, the suffering of civilians, bombs day and night, trying to live a "normal" life, PTSD, survivor guilt, the discomfort of an immigrant, the discomfort of being young and in love and different, the alter ego of the man you should have been vs. the Izzy who tries to live a life in California. So many layers. So well written. Not perfect, but almost.

  • Thorn MotherIssues
    2019-05-09 17:08

    Admittedly the topic hit close to home, but I don't remember another book that's given me goosebumps like this. A beautiful, painful look at living (?) through trauma.

  • Amyg1024
    2019-04-29 11:50

    This book had some really good aspects. I really liked the rendering of the dissonance of clashing one's native culture with American culture. On the down side, I found it really confusing. It probably did not help that I was reading another book interspersed in the same weeks as this one. But, the upshot is, I had a hard time keeping track of what was happening to whom and when in historical time.

  • Fiona
    2019-05-17 19:09

    I admire the quality of writing but this book was hard to read and finish

  • Książki I
    2019-05-05 16:07

    Ismet ucieka z ogarniętej wojną Bośni. W USA studiuje teatrologię i pisarstwo. Jednak Stany Zjednoczone nie są ziemią obiecaną. Ismet czuje się tutaj źle i obco. Cierpi na bezsenność, śniąc koszmary o wojnie i zabijaniu. Za namową lekarza kampusowego zaczyna pisać pamiętnik. Dziennik ma mu pomóc wyzdrowieć i ujrzeć swoje doświadczenia w szerszym kontekście.Mustafa jest żołnierzem. Okrucieństwo i przemoc są jego chlebem powszednim. Co łączy go ze spokojnym i wrażliwym Ismetem i dlaczego losy obydwu mężczyzn splatają się coraz bardziej?Proza Ismeta Prcicia to celne, trafne spostrzeżenia, zapadające w pamięć krótkie, jakby urywane zdania i ton, który ani trochę nie jest płaczliwy, mimo, że ludzie rzeczywiście okazali się “aż tak głupi”. I wojna wybuchła naprawdę.Wszyscy mamy prawo do wolności i pokoju. Gdy wojna zabiera nam nawet to, jedyną bronią może być czarny humor, dystans ponad wszystko i przelanie na papier traumy, a także danie świadectwa i oddanie hołdu. Chociaż było się świadkiem strasznych wydarzeń, chociaż całe życie legło w gruzach, a w ciele pozostały odłamki, które mogą zabić. Często myślimy, że wojna nas nie dotyczy. To nie nasza wojna, mówimy. Odczuwamy strach, gdy tak blisko nas wybucha konflikt. Obserwujemy znad kotleta relacje telewizyjne, współczujemy, ale nie spędza nam to snu z powiek. Powszednieje. Gdzieś tam wojna jest codziennie. Najlepiej, żeby jej nie było, ale lepiej gdy jest daleko. Dla nas codzienność to nasze obowiązki, spotkania z przyjaciółmi, film w piątkowy wieczór. Wydaje nam się, że tak będzie już zawsze. Że ludzie nie będą “aż tak głupi”. I lepiej dla nas, żeby okazało się tak naprawdę. Nie lubię patosu w powieściach, nawet jeśli tematyka go usprawiedliwia. Odłamki są go pozbawione. Tę pełną emocji powieść należy wręcz przeczytać. I przeżyć. Bo dobitniej przemawia do nas tragedia jednostki, niż całych społeczności. Jedna fotografia, powieść, która porusza do głębi. I powoduje, że przez jakiś czas też nosimy w sobie odłamki. Ale też jesteśmy wdzięczni losowi, że nie poznaliśmy, i miejmy nadzieję nie poznamy okrucieństwa wojny. Odłamki to nie tylko powieść o wojnie. Książka jest poruszającą autobiografią, przekrojem życia autora. Poznajemy dzieciństwo bohatera, a właściwie bohaterów, bo jest ich dwóch. Mnie ono skojarzyło się trochę z polskimi realiami poprzedniej epoki. Mieszkanie w bloku, dzieci z kluczami na szyi, fascynacja filmami oglądanymi na wideo i rycerzami Ninja. Beztroskie czasy, gdy nie myśli się o przyszłości a cały wolny czas pochłania dobra zabawa. Przechodzimy przez okres dojrzewania, poznajemy wojnę z jej okrucieństwem, by w końcu znaleźć się w bezpiecznym miejscu. Ucieczka jednak nie rozwiązuje wszystkich problemów. W obcym kraju, wśród nieznanych ludzi, z daleka od rodziny i znajomych, człowiek czuje się zagubiony. Pojawia się samotność i depresja. Tęsknota za bliskimi, wycieczkami na działkę, grami i zabawami. Popadamy w marazm i zniechęcenie. Jak przed tym się uchronić? Nie pozwolić, by izolacja i bolesne wspomnienia wyniszczyły nas od środka? Ismet Prcić zaczął pisać dziennik. Zebrał życiowe doświadczenia i stworzył jedną z najbardziej poruszających powieści ostatnich lat. Smutną, wzruszającą opowieść, którą powinien poznać każdy z nas.

  • How_sven
    2019-05-06 15:08

    I picked this book up out of a running interest in the subject matter - I've read quite a bit of Eastern European/Balkan writers and have spent quite a bit of time in the Balkans as well as studying Eastern European history. The premise of the novel is actually quite intriguing as well. A boy, with the same name as the author, escapes the war in Bosnia to come to America. We then read how he remembers his story (in the form of a memoir which he writes at the urging of his therapist), his diary that he keeps, as well as the parallel life of Mustafa, whose life mirrors that of Ismet's at times and at others veers away from it. Perhaps it is how Ismet has recreated events in his imagination and how he understands how his life could have been different. This can lead to an interesting discussion about experiences, reality, perspective and how we construct memory. So as far as plot and structure go, it's an interesting, stimulating book.With all that said, however, I don't think that it was very well written. The subject matter, which sold me on buying the book, also was what got it published, rather than literary merit. It's certainly an intriguing premise and story but needed an editor. Perhaps it was intentional on Prcic's part, but the style feels like that of a writer who is simply trying too hard to be artistic and "literary." I've wondered if Prcic (the author of the text as a whole) is simply imposing this style on his character Prcic who is also writing that either it's written poorly or it's written well because it's been deliberately written poorly to show his character as not being a good writer. The style jumps from crass adolescent humor to flowery metaphors and similes.For example: "Instead, she put a kiss on my lips, unexpectedly, and sensing it was going to be a brief, devastating one, I leaned into it more and felt my pursed lips fight for purchase against hers, trying to protract the mellifluent contact, and then it was all over. She stood up, told me to call her tomorrow morning, and walked away forever. I watched her devolve from the flesh-to-flesh contact, to a specter down the street, her peach-colored backpack bobbing slightly, noiselessly, her hand flying up for a wave, then - foliage.""The earlier shell had hit the parking lot in front of it, lifted this VW bug, flipped it, and brought it down atop a little Citroen. By the time we got close, you couldn't see what colors they were, as they were burned extracrispy and still burning. The bug looked a little bit like a turtle on its back. Some pissed-off storeowners were sweeping their broken windows off the pavement. There were shrapnel holes everywhere. We overheard that two women were killed, but we walked past the jail and up to Banja Park to make out."I liked the subject matter and the story. Unfortunately, however, I did not find it to be well written.

  • Bethany Miller
    2019-05-03 17:48

    I won a copy through Goodreads. Can't wait to start reading! 2.5 starsI have mixed feelings about this book. Some of the writing was really good, but there were some sections where it got a bit convoluted and confusing. There are a lot of layers here. The book is a work of fiction; however, the author has the same name as the main character and he mentions Eric Carlson, the name of another character, in the acknowledgements. Within the book, Ismet is attempting to write a memoir, but finds himself adding details that aren’t real though they feel real to him. In addition, there is the story of Mustafa which both intersects with and reflects Ismet’s experiences. So… yeah, it gets a little confusing at times. I did think the novel’s structure was interesting and forced the reader to contemplate what actually happens in the world of the story and what comes from the imagination of the character Ismet as well as how much comes from the author’s own experiences. There were a couple of issues that kept me from truly enjoying the book. Only a very cold hearted person could read this book and not feel sorry for Ismet, so I pitied him, but I didn’t really like him. Throughout the book, his reliance on women (including his mother and all three girlfriends) to make himself feel complete really annoyed me. The reader does not really get to know American girlfriend Melissa except as the object of Ismet’s affection/obsession, but boy did I feel sorry for her. I found myself thinking, “Break it off before he pulls you down with him!” (No wonder her friends hate you, Ismet. Could you be more stalkery?) Because clearly Ismet has to deal with his own issues and figure out who he is before he can have a successful relationship with anyone else. I was also bothered by some of the language in the book. Though I'm not opposed to realistic language (I don’t think I’m a complete prude), there seemed to be an overuse of derogatory terms for female anatomy. You can chalk it up to realism, but to be honest those words grated on me a bit. Overall, I have to say that I found this book to be a pretty big downer. Other reviewers mentioned passages that they found humorous, but they were pretty few and far between in my opinion. Ismet and his mother are both profoundly depressed and there are no happy endings here. I have no problem reading serious books that discuss serious issues, of which there are many in Shards, but I like a little bit of light to balance out the dark, and for that reason, this just wasn’t my cup of tea.

  • Catherine Woodman
    2019-05-11 17:08

    This book is about Bosnia, the Balkans, war, and trauma. It is more uplifting than it sounds, but not by a mile.The novel is constructed in a series of fragments — shards — seemingly written by its main character, Ismet Prcic. Ismet grows up in Tuzla, Bosnia and manages to flee shortly before his induction into the “meat grinder” of the Bosnian infantry. He has survived and made his way to America, but is fractured by what he left behind. The novel comprises mostly segments from his memoirs and excerpts from his diary.The fragments are roughly organized into three strands. One consists of a diary Ismet (now called Izzy) keeps after he moves to America. Prcic, who immigrated to the United States in 1996 at the age of 19, has acquired a fluency in English that enables him to assimilate convincingly--on the surface--scratch that surface and you find damage.The second of the strands is Ismet’s memoir of growing up in Bosnia. Much of it is told in a lively and compelling adolescent voice, sensitive but also full of American pop-­culture references from the 1980's. Ismet is loved, particularly by his mother, who has a muse-like quality that is combined with the tragedy that she knows war is coming. Ismet (the author) is perceptive and brings his readers the experience of the war in small human details, especially effective in this strand.The novel’s third strand revolves around a Bosnian called Mustafa. Unlike Ismet, he fights in the war. Eventually, all three strands meld together. Figuring out how they corroborate one another or not, and how to reconcile the various versions of Ismet’s story, is one of the pleasures of reading this ambitious and deep novel.Ismet experienced the war in real life, but he also experienced it through television and the movies. He explains some of the factors associated with PTSD--saying that “movies don’t do it justice — that’s all I’m going to say about the thought-collapsing, breath-stealing sound a spinning shell makes as it pierces the air on the way down toward the center of your town.” Finally, he doesn’t register his experience of a massacre in Tuzla until he sees it on the news later. It reminds us how strange it is that people now watch their own wars on television, and how this seems to compound the trauma. The book is not solely about trauma and it's effects, but those elements are there, and it is eye-opening to read about them in this very interesting novel.

  • LikeTheDog
    2019-05-13 12:09

    My review was originally printed in the Yamhill Valley News-Register, McMinnville, Oregon. ------ Several descriptions of Ismet Prcic's "Shards" convinced me this was a novel I wouldn't want to read, just something I had to power through because it's this year's MacReads book.It wasn't the subject matter -- the main character is a refugee of the 1990s Bosnian civil war -- that put me off. It was the way every report emphasized that the narrative skips back and forth in time and that it includes the parallel story of another young man who stayed in Bosnia, may or may not be the main character and may or may not be real.Sounded too sci-fi; too device-y, as if the egotistical writer (who gave the protagonist his own name, for heaven's sake) was more concerned with showing off all the latest tricks, rather than telling a story.I was wrong."Shards" does skip around in time as the narrator, Izzy, struggles to deal with post-traumatic stress by writing a diary. And there are sections about Mustafa, a soldier in Bosnia who shares some traits with Izzy or onto whom, perhaps, Izzy projects his own fears and desires. And it is really, really well-written, with evocative descriptions that take you into a city under siege and the shell-shocked minds of its people, before, during and long after the war.Here's one example: Izzy, who has been living in California for three years, is waiting for a commuter train that will take him to his girlfriend's house. A freighter roars by."The sound pierced me. I fell to the ground. For a moment it was happening right there ... The war had come to me. An explosion rocked the walled-off neighborhood beyond the station's parking lot... Debris sprayed everywhere, clanging into parked cars. A palm tree toppled over onto a green Chrysler. A Mexican kid fell off his bike, smoke devouring the cul-de-sac behind him ... then it was blue sky, and cars wavering in the heat, and the kid contentedly riding in a loop ... and nothing was happening, absolutely nothing was going on.""Shards" is a wonderful book, one I'll remember. I still don't get Pricic's choice of names for the main character, though; it doesn't bother me, but I feel bad for the author -- he must have to spend way too much time explaining that this is a novel, rather than his actual diary.

  • Ari
    2019-04-26 17:06

    I have no idea what happened - except it being a remarkable creative representation of trauma experiences - and that's okay; I liked it.

  • Azra Beganovic
    2019-04-29 12:46

    Having known many people who have lived through and experienced first hand the war in Bosnia, I feel as though this book was a good representation of the emotions and mood of the country people during that time. The constant fear of shellings, how neighbors are so quick to turn on one another because of religious beliefs, having to flee your homes, no electricity, no food, etc. The book was a very easy read and hard to put down. The reason I had to rate the book only 3 stars is because I was left feeling quite confused. The book jumped around quite a bit. It wasn't exactly hard to follow with all the jumping, but when the book would jump back to a part that was already covered it almost seemed to alter the original story so it was somewhat confusing to determine what was supposed to be the "truth" to the story. Another confusing issue was that some parts of the book are written as a story, some parts are written as the author's diary entries, some parts are written as letters to the author'a mother. But what I am most confused about is one of the most important secondary characters, Mustafa Nalic. Even after completing the book I am still not entirely clear who he is.... Is he a made up person or an alter ego of Ismet? Is it Ismet himself? Is it a made up person? I'm very very confused about this. Several times throughout the book I changed my opinion on what I thought this character represented but even when I completed the book I couldn't say for sure and that really bothered me because he played a very important role in this book.

  • TinHouseBooks
    2019-04-24 10:56

    Meg Storey (Editor, Tin House Books): I seem to be on a genocide kick and have just read two amazing debut novels about two horrific conflicts, Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, set in Chechnya, and Ismet Prcic’s Shards, about Bosnia. While very different in style and tone, both novels are beautifully written and heartbreaking and somehow manage to depict the atrocities of war while conveying a sense of the absurdity that pervades these situations. (For example, in Marra’s book, a doctor who has not had any news of the outside world in years confuses Ronald McDonald for Ronald Reagan. When he learns who Ronald McDonald is, he is horrified by the idea of people eating hamburgers cooked by a clown. Given the circumstances he’s been living under, his reaction to this information creates a moment of humor, and, well, he does have a point.) But more importantly, these books made me realize that despite the news stories I heard and the statistics I read and my understanding that a lot of people were dying somewhere far away, I knew very little about the actual people who experienced those wars. These novels reminded me that one of the biggest reasons I read fiction is to learn about the lives of others, especially lives so completely different from my own. That said, I should probably take a break from genocide novels and read something about kittens and rainbows, if anyone has any suggestions.