“Ismet Prcic has taken apart the complexities of war, love, family, and home and scattered them across a novel that is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful. SHARDS is an original work of art, brutal and honest, and absolutely unforgettable.”
-- Dinaw Mengestu, author of How to Read the Air
Ismet Prcic’s debut novel, SHARDS, is a harrowing war story, a stunningly inventive coming-of-age tale, and a heartbreaking saga of a splintered family.
In SHARDS, a young Bosnian, also named Ismet Prcic, has fled his war-torn homeland and is now struggling to reconcile his past with his present life in California. He is advised that in order to move forward, he must write everything down. The result is a great rattlebag of memories, confessions, and fictions: sweetly humorous recollections of Ismet’s childhood in Tuzla appear alongside anguished letters to his mother about the challenges of life in this new world. As Ismet’s foothold in the present falls away, his writings are further complicated by stories from the point of view of another young man—real or imagined—named Mustafa, who joined a troop of elite soldiers and stayed in Bosnia. When Mustafa’s story begins to overshadow Ismet’s new-world identity, the reader is charged with piecing together the fragments of a life that has become eerily unrecognizable, even to the one living it.
SHARDS grew out of Ismet Prcic’s own experience of leaving his family behind in war-torn Bosnia. Just as Prcic was about to be drafted into the Bosnian army, his theater troupe was invited to perform at the Fringe Festival in Scotland. While in Scotland, he and a few other members of the troupe simply “disappeared.” Prcic ended up in Croatia, where he eventually secured papers to come to the United States as a refugee. He found his way to Los Angeles, where he stayed with an uncle until going off on his own, enrolling in junior college and eventually earning degrees at UC San Diego and UC Irvine. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon.
Over the years, while he mastered a new language, Ismet would tell his eventful life story over and over again, all while struggling to reconcile his new American identity with his past, haunted by what he might have become had he stayed in Bosnia. As he began to write, fact melded with fiction. The result is a masterful work of art and imagination that marks the debut of a gloriously gifted and original writer. And a highly recommended book to read.