Viking, $26.95, 464 pages
Twice Born tells the story of Gemma, Diego and Gojko in war-torn Sarajevo. Gemma and Diego fall in love, and move to Italy to begin their life. Once war breaks out in Sarajevo, Diego returns to his homeland to help with the fighting. Gemma, driven by love, follows after Diego. They meet a girl named Aska, and an unusual “business” agreement incites consequences that no one imagined. Sixteen years later, Gemma returns to Sarajevo with her son Pietro and uncovers some startling facts.
Mazzantini writes with clarity and detail that makes the reader believe they are on the sidelines of changing Sarajevo. Some chapters are so graphic with details, the reader will be amazed at the writer’s skills. At times, chapters go back and forth between present day (2008) and the 1990’s, which can be confusing at first. But once the reviewer got used to the writer’s style, reading this book with its elegant prose and interesting history lesson was a must-read.