SARAJEVO DAILY by Tom Gjelten

SARAJEVO DAILY

A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An ambitious, partially rewarding attempt to recount the suffering and fortitude of Sarajevo, focusing on the work and workers of the daily newspaper Oslobodjenje. Gjelten, who has covered the war in the former Yugoslavia since 1991 for National Public Radio, writes with far less personal involvement and passion than David Rieff (see Slaughterhouse, p. 1548). But he has quite a subject. Oslobodjenje (Liberation) was one of Sarajevo's best examples of interethnic harmony; resisting Communist strictures in the 1980s, it emerged as an independent pan-national voice in the 1990s. Despite shelling of its building, limited resources, and a staff suffering common privations, it kept publishing out of a bomb shelter, even using wrapping paper or textbook stock. Gjelten tries, a bit awkwardly, both to chronicle Sarajevo events over a two-year period and to follow individuals from the newspaper. Ljiljana Smajlov°c, a Serb, is so distressed by Serb atrocities that she escapes to Brussels. Two staffers on their way to the office are dragged by local underworld figures turned militiamen to dig front-line trenches. The newspaper, like other local institutions, must maintain an edgy relationship with UN Protection Force troops: dependent on favors for newsprint and fuel, yet critical of the force's lack of protection. And the war, weakening the communal bonds of the city, takes its toll on Oslobodjenje's ideals: News editor Zlatko Dizdarev°c confronts editor Kemal Kurspah°c over the paper's unquestioning coverage of the Bosnian government as the war proceeds. In one story, a well- known Sarajevo actor, rendered legless after a mortar blast, asserts that he has been defeated, in that ``there is hatred in me now.'' Trying unsuccessfully to reconcile an uneasy mixture of writing about the war as a whole and about the life of Oslobodjenje in particular, Gjelten strays from reportorial rigor into a general lament for a ravaged land and people. (15 photos, 2 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-019052-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1994




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