Omer Pasha Latas: Marshal to the Sultan

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New York Review of Books
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5.0 X 7.9 X 0.8 inches | 0.7 pounds

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About the Author

Ivo Andric (1892-1975) was born to Catholic Croatian parents in a village in Austrian-occupied Bosnia. His father died when he was two, and his mother sent him to live with his aunt and uncle in Visegrad, a town on the Drina River near the Serbian border. In high school, he began writing poetry and joined Young Bosnia, a student revolutionary movement advocating South Slav unification. Andric enrolled at the University of Zagreb in 1912, where he continued working with South Slav nationalist groups, then transferred to the University of Vienna, and later to the University of Kraków, all the while publishing poems in Bosnian journals and anthologies. Upon the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, Andric, an associate of Gavrilo Princip, returned to Bosnia and was quickly arrested by Austrian police. Over the course of World War I, while in prison and later under house arrest, he wrote a number of prose poems that were published in two collections after the war, Ex Ponto (1918) and Nemiri (Unrest, 1920). In 1919, Andric was appointed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the new Yugoslavian government, and served as a diplomat in the Vatican, Bucharest, Trieste, Paris, Madrid, and, finally, as the ambassador to Germany, a post he held at the outbreak of World War II. Refusing the German government's offer of safe passage to Switzerland, he returned to Belgrade, where he spent the war under house arrest, writing his two best-known novels, Na Drini cuprija (The Bridge on the Drina) and Travnička hronika (Bosnian Chronicle), which were published in 1945. The Bridge on the Drina would go on to become required reading in Yugoslavian high schools, and Andric would become a celebrity in Communist Yugoslavia. He was named the president of the Yugoslavian Writer's Union and in 1950 was appointed a deputy in the National Assembly of Yugoslavia. In 1958, he married Milica Babic, a costume designer twenty years his junior, and in 1961 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Babic died in 1968, and Andric lived alone in an apartment in Belgrade until his death in 1975. His funeral was attended by ten thousand people, and his former apartment was converted into a museum.

Celia Hawkesworth has translated nearly forty books from the Serbo-Croatian, including Bosnian Chronicle by Ivo Andric; The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugresic; Belladonna by Dasa Drndic, which was short-listed for the Oxford Weidenfeld prize in 2018; and Adios, Cowboy by Olja Savičevic.

William T. Vollmann is the author of three collections of stories, more than ten novels, and many more volumes of nonfiction. His novel Europe Central won the National Book Award in 2005, and he has won the Whiting Foundation Award and the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Award for his fiction. In 2018, he published a two-volume investigation into climate change, Carbon Ideologies.


"Andric possesses the rare gift in a historical novelist of creating a period-piece, full of local colour, and at the same time characters who might have been living today." --Times Literary Supplement

"The historical context will be unfamiliar to most readers, but the issues, of good and evil, identity and fate, are universal." --Kirkus