Earlier today I mentioned a piece Ingrid Bengis wrote about St. Petersburg and its literary history for the BBC, along with an essay by Mikhail Iossel, the founder of the St. Petersburg Summer Literary Seminars.
My attention has been directed to another fine Mikhail Iossel piece, entitled “Some Of The World Transactions My Father Has Missed Due To His Death On September 14, 1999.”
It’s an affecting collection of events, moving as it does from the world stage — “Boris Yeltsinâ€™s peaceful retirement. The second war in Chechnya. George W. Bushâ€™s dubious electoral victory over Al Gore. War with Iraq.” — to the homefront — “His youngest granddaughterâ€™s unaccountable utter lack of interest in unicorns.”
In … Sarajevo Marlboro, there is a lovely little story about a rock and roll singer and his story, the way he lived in the city – the way he existed before the war and the way he existed during the war.
And a lot of those stories, if you are from Sarajevo you know who these people are.
So there is a retained memory of that in literature.
Around the time of the war literature from Sarajevo in the wider sense dealt with the war.
And in strange ways it had more hope than the literature might have today.
Because the war was a struggle, in a sense, and to write books and to write about Sarajevo was to protect it, or defend it, in fact.