Coming August 2019
In the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies Mostar, a medieval town on the banks of the emerald Neretva, which flows from the “valley of sugared trees” through sunny hills to reach the Adriatic Sea. This idyllic locale is where Maya Ombasic’s life begins, but when civil war breaks out in Yugoslavia and the bombs begin to fall. Her family is exiled to Switzerland, and after a failed attempt to return, they leave again for Canada. While Maya adapts to their uprootings, her father never recovers from the trauma, refusing even to learn the language of his new country.
Mostarghia, a portmanteau of “Mostar” and “nostalgia”, centers around Ombasic’s often explosive relationship with her father, who was both influence and psychological burden: he inspired her interest, and eventual career, in philosophy, and she was his translator, his support, his obsession. Along with this portrait of a larger-than-life man described by turns as passionate, endearing, maddening, and suffocating, Ombasic deftly constructs a moving personal account of what it means to be a refugee and how a generation learns to thrive despite its parents’ struggles.
Praise for Maya Ombasic
“An overwhelming homage, clear-eyed and drenched in tenderness, Mostarghia is driven by Maya Ombasić’s strong, sensitive voice, which allows us to glimpse the reverse side of the shadow of exile. Magnificent.” –Le Devoir (Montreal)
“In an unadorned style, which contains emotion by restricting itself to facts, the author recounts her years during the war, then her exile in Switzerland, then Canada. The book’s strength stems in large part from its ability to show the concrete daily consequences of a war from which the family suffers without participating in it directly, to showcase the absurdity of the issues–ethnic, religious, territorial–from which children and parents feel themselves estranged.” –Le Monde (Paris)
“The book, its title inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Nostalghia, is a daughter’s love song to her father and the tale of her salvation, her refusal to be defeated by depression in order to move on.” –l’Humanité (Paris)