Shards

Ismet Prcic. Grove/Black Cat, $14.95 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-7081-1
With this frenetic debut novel set during the Bosnian war, Prcic proves that it’s impossible to outrun your past. The narrator, whose name is Ismet Prcic, recounts his childhood in Tuzla before the war and his adolescent interest in theater, which led him to a drama festival in Edinburgh, and his escape to America in 1995. But Prcic’s tale is complicated and nonlinear; intercut with his youthful days in Bosnia spent avoiding Serbian mortar attacks are snippets of his rapidly deteriorating life in California, letters to his depressive mother back home, and, in a most intriguing twist, the story of another young Bosnian man, Mustafa Nalic. Instructed by his American psychiatrist to “write everything” (and take Xanax), Prcic at first seems to have invented Mustafa as a counterpart to his own life: Mustafa the soldier who remained in Bosnia. But as the fictional Prcic continues to deteriorate in the U.S., losing his girlfriend and his fragile grasp on reality, Mustafa morphs from fictional construct to flesh and blood until Prcic cannot separate his memories from what “Mustafa” imagined. Though the intricate structure proves challenging at times, Prcic captures the insanity of war and its unceasing aftermath. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/08/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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