Monday 25 April 2016

Filipović, Zlata "Zlata's Diary"

Filipović, Zlata "Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo" (Bosnian: Zlatin dnevnik: otroštvo v obleganem Sarajevu) - 1993

I recently read "Rose of Sarajevo" by Ayşe Kulin and remembered that I always wanted to read this book. My son read it in school and so it was in our house. No chasing after it in a bookshop or waiting until my library found it on an inter library exchange.

This is a wonderful account about a war. The interesting thing is that Zlata started this diary before the war where she is all girly and interested in all the stuff girls of her age are just interested in. so, we can see how her life changes with the war, how all she is interested in now is how to survive and how to find food. A brilliant way of showing the world that war destroys everything and punishes especially those that are innocent, most often women and children. A way of seeing the war through the eyes of a child.

Like Anne Frank in "The Diary of a Young Girl", she gives her diary a name (Mimmy) and like Anne Frank's diary, I think everyone should read this.

From the back cover:

"In a voice both innocent and wise, touchingly reminiscent of Anne Frank's, Zlata Filipovic's diary has awoken the conscience of the world. Now thirteen years old, Zlata began her diary just before her eleventh birthday, when there was peace in Sarajevo and her life was that of a bright, intelligent, carefree young girl. Her early entries describe her friends, her new skis, her family, her grades at school, her interest in joining the Madonna Fan Club. And then, on television, she sees the bombs falling on Dubrovnik. Though repelled by the sight, Zlata cannot conceive of the same thing happening in Sarajevo. When it does, the whole tone of her diary changes. Early on, she starts an entry to 'Dear Mimmy' (named after her dead goldfish): 'SLAUGHTERHOUSE! MASSACRE! HORROR! CRIMES! BLOOD! SCREAMS! DESPAIR!' We see the world of a child increasingly circumscribed by the violence outside. Zlata is confined to her family's apartment, spending the nights, as the shells rain down mercilessly, in a neighbor's cellar. And the danger outside steadily invades her life. No more school. Living without water and electricity. Food in short supply. The onslaught destroys the pieces she loves, kills or injures her friends, visibly ages her parents. In one entry Zlata cries out, 'War has nothing to do with humanity. War is something inhuman.' In another, she thinks about killing herself. Yet, with indomitable courage and a clarity of mind well beyond her years, Zlata preserves what she can of her former existence, continuing to study piano, to find books to read, to celebrate special occasions - recording it all in the pages of this extraordinary diary."


  1. You wonder if children robbed of their childhood in such a horrible manner ever recover.

    1. Good question. I suppose it depends, for some it is an incentive to get back to a normal life, for others it is probably never going to get any better. I just happened to talk about this with a lady from Bosnia who was sent to Germany when she was just 15 during the war. She spoke no German and had to attend a German school and finish it in a year or two. She did survive the war and the ordeal, made her degrees, has a job, a husband and a daughter. I am so happy that some of them did get through this.

      Have a good day,