A recent book by prominent Bosnian writers Ivan Lovrenovic and Miljenko Jergovic proved to be a page-turner in my case. Published by Novi Liber, Bosna i Hercegovina – budućnost nezavršenog rata (Bosnia and Herzegovina: the Future of an Unfinished War) comes in an unusual form. It first features Jergovic’s quick browse through some of the highlights of Lovrenovic’s career. It then offers 114 pages of Jergovic’s biographical interview with Lovrenovic. This is followed by an 88 page-long piece titled Twenty One Theses by Lovrenovic, capped by his portraits of Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic, two men at the center of the region’s descent to war in the 1990s. In other words, even though it is authored by both Jergovic and Lovrenovic, this is a book about Lovrenovic and his analysis of Bosnia’s recent history.
That analysis is something you won’t find elsewhere. Lovrenovic is indeed “Alone in Bosnia,” as Jergovic calls his chapter, placing Lovrenovic in a unique spot on Bosnia’s thinking landscape. Amid the dominance of different collectivist patterns over public life in the past few decades, Lovrenovic has somehow managed to remain independent, not only from the omnipresent nationalist structures, but also from that rather lazy little world of Sarajevo’s moderates, who tend to paint a rosy picture of Bosnia’s past and typically show little interest in the country as a whole. It is exactly the combination of Lovrenovic’s curiosity, mercilessly piercing intellect and his affinity for Bosnia as a land and its people that account for his power to do away with myths and paint a non-sentimental picture of Bosnia that is both frighteningly depressing and loving.
If you read Serbian-Croatian-Bosnian-Montenegrin, make sure you get this book. If you don’t, lobby publishers in other languages to translate.