AS LONG AS SARAJEVO EXISTS by Kemal Kurspahic

AS LONG AS SARAJEVO EXISTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The gripping and poignant account of the survival of Sarajevo's daily newspaper and the abiding ideal of peaceful coexistence that it symbolizes. For over four years, working against material, financial, and personal obstacles (the paper was eventually produced out of the building's bomb shelter), the multiethnic staff of Oslobodjenje kept their paper going. But Kurspahi, its editor in chief during the war, does more than just narrate their story. He places his paper's struggle in the broader context of events in the former Yugoslavia. This was not a civil war, he argues, but one against civilians and their culture, a war against cosmopolitanism. An early chapter covers the initial phase of the paper's ``liberation,'' which saw its transformation from a Communist- controlled daily to one characterized by principles of liberalism and pluralism, and a commitment to peaceful coexistence. For the first time, its staff freely elected editors and selected the stories they would cover, including regular reports on events in other republics. At a time of poor communication and increasing political control, Kurspahi's paper provided perhaps the last true reflection of current events. Kurspahi captures how Sarajevo blossomed, becoming ``an arena for popular self-expression,'' an antidote to the growing chauvinism and intolerance in other republics. In the chapter on the paper in wartime, Kurspahi deftly interweaves the personal and professional, creating a clear parallel between the enormous sacrifices made by Oslobodjenje's staff to keep the paper going and the heroic efforts of Bosnia's citizens to defend their homes, neighbors, and ideals. In the process, he presents the dramatic and often tragic struggles of colleagues, friends, strangers, and public figures. The war may be over and the country divided, but, Kurspahi asserts, a unified Bosnia and its culture will survive as long as the spirit of Oslobodjenje ``defends her essence and keeps faith with memory.''

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-9630587-7-0
Page count: 350pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997