we have arrived at the letter X!
a couple people asked me what i was going to do for this letter, and for a while i wasn’t sure. my conditions were as follows:
1. it had to be a country. i had kept to that rule throughout and had options for the two letters afterwards, so i wanted to keep it consistent. this eliminated galician and chinese cities that began with X.
naturally, i googled countries that begin with the letter X, only to find, as you may already have known: there are none.
at least…there are none in english. which leads me to my next criterion:
2. it had to be in that country’s native language. it would’ve felt gimmicky to me to have said, “here’s a country that starts with the letter X is a language that’s spoken halfway across the world!”
in the forums i found that mentioned galician and chinese place names, somebody pointed out that the transliteration of a particular country’s name into the cyrillic alphabet began with X. although the language of that country is not commonly rendered in cyrillic, it fit my two criteria of being a country and its name, if not in english, being in its native tongue. the transliteration of хрватска in the latin alphabet is hrvatska. we know that country as croatia.
genre: literary fiction
synopsis: a girl comes to terms with her experiences living through the bosnian war
setting: zagreb, croatia, 1991-2; new york city, 2002
what i liked: the structure of the novel, which is deliberate. nović actually mentions in an interview that she was having trouble structuring it until she met with another writer who helped her work it out.
nović also brings the bosnian war to life in a way i had not previously experienced (and some of you may remember one of my favorite books is steven galloway’s the cellist of sarajevo). but what i think made this more real to me is that it’s written in first person through ana’s perspective, and you sense the war approaching from a distance, like she does, and then experience with her the suddenness of its arrival.
trigger warnings: violence, implied rape
final thoughts: this book is so well-written; i loved it. and i loved that although its narrative structure is deliberately constructed, it’s still a page-turner.