My Name Is Bosnia.


256 pages
ISBN 978-0-88922-542-7
DDC C843'.54





Translated by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott
Reviewed by Tanya Rogoschewsky

Tanya Rogoschewsky is a librarian at Red Deer College in Red Deer,


Madeleine Gagnon’s novel of war and recovery focuses on the figurative and literal journey of Sabaheta, a non-practicing Muslim whose family and life is torn apart by the war in Bosnia. The novel vividly describes both the crimes and devastation of war and also how trauma survived becomes a part of the survivors’ consciousness and is carried with them even as they struggle rebuild their lives. Sabaheta watches the war kill her father, rob her mother of her sanity, and turn her brother into a dangerous fanatic. In the besieged city of Sarajevo, she and her friends discuss the possibility of God in such a world as they struggle for survival, burning first their furniture and then their precious books for warmth. When the war is over, Sabaheta changes her name to Bosnia so that she will remember her country even as she leaves it to start a new life with her husband in Canada. Through her new friendships and the quiet beauty of rural Quebec, Bosnia is able to move through the continued anguish of the violence she has witnessed to reclaim the possibility of hope and happiness in her life. Gagnon is an accomplish Canadian poet, but her language in this novel, while evocative, often works against the book, slowing the narrative thrust of the novel and making her characters less believable. This, coupled with the occasionally stilted dialogue, can keep the reader at a distance from the characters lessening the impact of the novel. Nonetheless, it is a moving story of war and its aftermath.


Gagnon, Madeleine., “My Name Is Bosnia.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,