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Vol.3. No. 4. July - September 2010





Afam Akeh
Andy Willoughby
Claire Girvan
Christian Ward
Derek Adams
Esiaba Irobi
Hannah Lowe
Hunter Liguore
Ikechukwu Obialo Azuonye
Karunamay Sinha
Kate Horsley
Laura Solomon
Lookman Sanusi
Malcolm Bray
Mark Lewis
Moa-Aaricia Lindunger
N Quentin Woolf
Nina Romano
Nnorom Azuonye
Norbert O. Eze
Olu Oguibe
Pius Adesanmi
Robert Lee Frazier
Toyin Adepoju
Uche Nduka
Wayne Scheer
Zino Asalor


Title: Thinner than a Hair
Author: Adnan Mahmutovic
Publisher: Cinnamon Press (7 April 2010)

Paperback: 208 pages


Mahmutovic's Thinner than a Hair

by Moa-Aaricia Lindunger

“Daughter, lover, illegal immigrant, and now a broken prostitute. How in God’s name have I managed to do this? As if I’m a pebble that a boy once flung across a river and it only touched the water in four places.”

Already in the prologue of Thinner than a Hair, Adnan Mahmutovic’s vibrant and poetic language pierces my heart. The sense of helplessness is striking. Not only that of the protagonist Fatima in her Bosnian context of the 1990s, but also in general. The words seem to suggest that, no matter how hard we try to persuade ourselves the opposite, we are all small pebbles uncontrollably hurled to and fro over an enormous ocean. Yet, at the same time, the reader cannot but be overwhelmed by the warmth, and astonished by the stoicism, faith and love that abounds Thinner than a Hair from prologue to epilogue. The novel requires a careful read. Not because its plot is extremely intricate or its language too complex but because each and every word is pregnant with profound emotions and meaning.

Mahmutovic, who was born in 1974 in northern Bosnia, invites his reader on a magic walk over Bosnian landscapes and through its history. He shows its rainbow colours rather than the army green, which we were used to see in the global broadcasts in the nineties. He gives voice to Fatima, who tells a story about coming of age in rural Bosnia and finding love in a sun burnt cornfield. Fatima grows up as an only child. Her father is “like a tree trunk, like a country” and her mother hides her loving warmth behind a cold façade as if for fear of the inescapable consequences of love. When she is seventeen Fatima meets Aziz, who is working for her father, and they fall in love. Then, in 1992, the war begins. Fatima and Aziz flee their small town and end up as refugees in Zenica, Eastern Bosnia.

The Balkan war is characterized by the splitting of the Balkan people along the lines of religion, ethnicity and gender, but Mahmutovic highlights the inessentiality of such categorizing. Fatima says, “Fools, they can’t see the rain for the water, let alone the rainbow for all the colours.” While Mahmutovic clearly depicts the Serbian aggression on Bosnia, it is as if he is trying to show that whether we are Serbs or Bosnians; Muslims or Christians; women or men or something in between, at the end of the day we are all human beings.

As if opening a babushka doll to find her core identity, Fatima peels off every layer of culturally created layers until she is totally exposed to the readers. Yet, this exposure, this vulnerability is also comforting because it shows that the essence of a human being has the capacity to survive every humiliation and distress even though it is thinner than a hair.





Moa Aaricia Lindunger is 24 years old and currently a student at the English Department at Stockholm University, Sweden.
She combines a lifelong interest in literature with studies in physiotherapy at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.


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