, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 1–17 | Cite as

Writing war, writing memory. The representation of the recent past and the construction of cultural memory in contemporary Bosnian prose

  • Stijn Vervaet


Focusing on the work of Miljenko Jergović, Nenad Veličković, Alma Lazarevska, and Saša Stanišić, this paper examines how the representation of the recent past intertwines with the construction of collective memory in contemporary Bosnian prose. The author argues that a first, significant function of recent Bosnian literature consisted of not only witnessing the horror of the Bosnian war but also turning historical events into sites of memory. This is especially true for the literature about the wars of the nineties—the siege of Sarajevo, Srebrenica, etc. However, the involvement of Bosnian authors with the recent past—in prose written during the war as well as in more recent works—proves to be more complex and seems to be indicative of a growing interest in and reflexivity upon the ways in which collective and individual memory are constructed. This paper suggests that the interest in memory/remembering the recent past has been accelerated by the war and the social and political turmoil of the nineties. This liminal situation urged writers firstly to represent the horrors of the recent past in order to prevent them from falling into oblivion. Secondly, because war emerged as a kind of turning point, a radical break between past and present, writers were compelled to reflect on the processes of remembering and oblivion and on the ways identity is constituted by a strange and often unpredictable interplay of both.


Contemporary Bosnian prose War fiction Cultural memory Miljenko Jergović Nenad Veličković Alma Lazarevska Saša Stanišić 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Slavonic and East European StudiesGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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