Currently reading

Paul Hanley
A Month in the Country
Michael Holroyd, J.L. Carr
A Tale of the Dispossessed: A Novel
Laura Restrepo, Dolores M. Koch
Mesabi Pioneers
Jeffrey Smith, Russell Hill
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes
Jon Rothschild, Amin Maalouf
Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Nayomi Munaweera

When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo: The Story of the Mostar Sinfonietta

When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo: The Story of the Mostar Sinfonietta - Ruth Waterman The story here is important and interesting. Waterman, a British violinist, spends a few weeks a year from 2000-2006 directing a tiny orchestra in Mostrar, a town in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is a post-war country full of war survivors with war stories, always, she points out, stories of being victims, never stories of perpetrating violence. We get snippets of Bosnian life, short war stories, and details of trying to hold together a haphazard group of musicians under difficult circumstances and come up with some arrangements that suit the group. But also a little bit of the magic the group manages to create. Waterman observes: "Music -- water in the desert of war."

So it's definitely worth reading. I'm very glad I found this little gem. But folks should know going in that it's an unpolished work. Much of the text is diary entries from Waterman and transcripts of short monologues she recorded during informal conversations with the musicians and others she meets. Then there are the sections that are disjointed memories from the times she was too busy to write a journal. So it needs to be regarded as important primary source info, and not a collected, scholarly or journalistic tale. Taken in context, it is very enjoyable.