Sabaheta is a literature student at the University of Sarajevo when war breaks out in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After her brother is taken from the family by armed thugs and her mother descends into madness, she goes into the forest with her father to join the guerrillas, where she dresses like a boy and fights side-by-side with the men.
When her father is killed in combat, Sabaheta gives him a makeshift funeral and vows one day to leave her homeland and seek a country where she can pursue her studies and live in peace. Although she is not an observant Muslim, she decides once again to wear the traditional headscarf, and changes her name to Bosnia, making her way alone to Sarajevo to reunite with her friends. After many months, having burned every available piece of furniture to keep warm, they are forced to burn their books, their most precious possessions. Chapter by chapter, they consign each book to memory before setting it alight, and then recite it by heart in front of the fire.
The war continues to take its deadly toll on those close to her, and Bosnia finally decides to leave her genocidal homeland. She makes a new life in Canada, where she finds a measure of happiness. "My Name Is Bosnia" is Madeleine Gagnon's celebration of the power of the imagination to heal and remake our lives.
My Name Is Bosnia
War & combat fiction