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Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past in Bosnia by Wojciech Tochman

Updated: Feb 12, 2019


After a war that left more than 100,000 people dead, there are bones all over Bosnia—scattered in forests, thrown down wells, or buried in unmarked mass graves. Many of them belong to Bosnian Muslims who went missing and were killed as part of a Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign that lasted from 1992 to 1995. Written from 2000 to 2002, Like Eating a Stone chronicles the aftermath of genocide and the reckoning that grips a still deeply divided Bosnia.


In spare but searing prose, Polish journalist Wojciech Tochman follows widows in search of missing husbands; mothers who wish to finally bury their children; and a forensic anthropologist who has made it her life’s work to piece together the remains of the deceased and read the stories that bones can tell. All the while, Tochman’s incisive portrait of this region in recovery raises troubling questions: namely, how does a country return to normal life after a war that displaced thousands and tested the limits of human cruelty? In Bosnia today, more than 25 years after the outbreak of war, people are still looking for bones and for answers. This is a deeply sobering read, but valuable for anyone interested in this region and its recent history. Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.