Category Archives: Book Review

Review: The Bridge on the Drina

The Bridge on the Drina

The Bridge on the Drina
By Ivo Andric
University of Chicago Press, 9780226020457, August 1977, 314pp.

The Short of It:

An excellent book to discuss with a group.

The Rest of It:

Publisher’s blurb:

The Bridge on the Drina is a vivid depiction of the suffering history has imposed upon the people of Bosnia from the late 16th century to the beginning of World War I. As we seek to make sense of the current nightmare in this region, this remarkable, timely book serves as a reliable guide to its people and history.

This is the book that ruined me for all reading, at least, while it was being read. It’s choppy, full of superfluous details and it’s impossible to remember any of the character’s names, but for a discussion book, it was excellent. It just wasn’t excellent for the other reading I had committed to. I could not read anything else while reading this one.

The Bridge on the Drina  is the type of book that has to be discussed and picked apart. You simply can’t digest it without discussing it in some way. Parts of it put me to sleep but then every now and then there would be this beautifully structured sentence or this profound thought. Ivo Andrić won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961 so the man can write, but as a group we all decided that the book was not written for us. It was a translation, so perhaps some meaning was lost there but it was just a hard story to get through and to feel anything for.

Plus, I didn’t know much about the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and although there were plenty of details, I felt that many of them were related to the bridge itself, not so much the timeline of events. The author focused on the longevity of the structure and how it remained unchanged while the people who lived in that village came and went with the ebb and flow of their day-to-day life. Things change but they don’t change. You know?

The book includes some violence but not as much as you’d expect. There is one particularly grotesque depiction of a man being skewered alive. Oh! The details. One thing I know, I never would have picked this book up had it not been chosen for a discussion. I also know that it’s incredibly hard to come by. It’s currently out of print and I had to order it through the university I work for. But, if you need a book to discuss, The Bridge on the Drina will definitely get your group talking.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: Judas

Judas

Judas
By Amos Oz
Mariner Books, 9781328745491, November 2017, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Really made me think about religion in general. Was Judas a hero? In this book, Oz poses the question.

The Rest of It:

This was a book club pick. Going into it, I had few expectations because I really didn’t know much about it. I have to say, this was probably a good thing.

Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abravanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. ~ Indiebound

I found this book to be very good for discussion but not as enjoyable to read as I had hoped. The romantic element between two of the characters seemed a tad forced and not terribly realistic. I liked parts of the story. A young student, listening to stories and learning from an elder was appealing to me but Atalia was cold as ice. I never warmed to her.

The political elements were not excessive but provided enough background to give me a feel for the conflict of that region. As a discussion book, it was excellent. We had plenty to talk about. The possibility of Judas being a hero was something we had to wrap our brains around. Throughout history he has been recognized as a traitor. That brought up the question, what is a traitor and is being one always bad?

Interesting, huh? Well, that’s all I have. I will say that reading other books while reading this one was not possible so I’m glad this one is behind me but if your club needs a good discussion book, give this one a try.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.