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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo
by Zlata Filipovic
Age Range: 12+
Set during the Balkan war, eleven-year-old Zlata starts writing her diary in September 1991. Like any other child, her days are filled with TV, sleepover parties, studying for school tests and her favourite meal, pizza. She also attends piano recitals and weekends are spent at the family’s house in the country.
By April 1992 Zlata’s diary entry is painting a very different picture – ‘I’m trying to concentrate so that I can do my homework (reading) but I simply can’t. Something is going on in town. You can hear gunfire from the hills’ – which shows how the war is drawing relentlessly closer to her home in Sarajevo. Almost overnight they are engulfed in a terrible war and Zlata’s family, friends and neighbours are fighting to survive. She is left bewildered, angry by the constant bombardments and shortages of the most basic necessities. Her short descriptions and the simplistic language with which she speaks of her crumbling world is incredibly powerful.
The force of Zlata’s diary lie within the puzzlement and raw emotion that throbs through every page. Her very personal account is a vivid portrait of an ordinary girl caught up in a terrible war, cruelly robbed of her childhood but who still manages to remain strong and determined. This diary gives a snap-shot of a very recent tragedy that will speak for a generation tormented by the horrors of the war in the Balkans during the 1990s. Photographs of Zlata and her family are also included in the book.