'By the time I finished it something in me had shifted forever' Elif Shafak, New Statesman
There is no hero or heroine in this book. Instead, there is a bridge, and there are the characters that have loved it, hated it, built it or tried to destroy it. Ivo Andric, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, grew up beside it.
For more than four hundred years a bridge has spanned the River Drina in Bosnia. This novel is its chronicle. Radisav, a workman, tries to hinder its construction and is impaled alive on its highest point. Beautiful Fata leaps from its parapet to escape an arranged marriage. Milan, inveterate gamble, risks all in one last game on it.
Spanning generations, nationalities, creeds, and a great stretch of green water, the bridge bears witness to the lives played out on it, connections forged and centuries of conflict.
In high school, one Saturday, I started reading a book by the Yugoslav novelist Ivo Andric: The Bridge on the Drina. By the time I finished it something in me had shifted forever
Despite its scale, what makes the book extraordinary is the tender insight with which it treats these individual lives, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim or Jewish
Perhaps the most widely translated Yugoslav book since the last war is Ivo Andric's The Bridge on the Drina... No better example could have been selected with which to introduce the American public to contemporary Yugoslav prose
The best kind of fictionalised history
The wealth and variety of its fictional elements carry it so far beyond the confines of a straightforward novel, it cannot be limited to such a description. It puts one in mind of a collection of tales, but no collection of tales (not even A Thousand and One Nights or Washington Irving's stories) ever possessed such a unity and continuity of theme