Why I Write What I Write
Bosnia and Herzegovina
For my first book, I interviewed immigrants from various parts of the world for over a year to chronicle their reasons for leaving. The resulting work is called, Our Neighbors, Their Voices: True Stories of Immigrant Exodus, and it details the often harrowing journeys that these courageous people wish to share with you. (See tab above to purchase)
The causes of immigration have not changed over the many centuries: poverty, war, crime, oppression, disease, or just plain better opportunities, and all with an understanding that the U.S. opens its arms to welcome them. As Americans, I believe we must be ever-vigilant of the vitriol espoused by many of our citizens that seek to deny access to coming here for so many, including those in the "Voices" book. Our "better angels" must always prevail.
Writing the "Voices" book opened my eyes to the worst atrocities on European soil since the Holocaust. I interviewed two women, young girls at the time, who survived the genocide perpetrated against Bosniaks (Muslims) and Catholic Croats living in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It led me on a journey to learn about and understand what happened in the years of the genocide from 1992-1995. My writing about Bosnia has allied me with others in telling the truth about the war that continues to haunt survivors today due to the denial and revisionism that emanates from many in Republika Srpska and Serbia.
In 2021, I published And Still We Rise: A Novel about the Genocide in Bosnia. This historical fiction tells the story of one family's journey to survive the cruelty unleashed upon non-Serbs in the war between 1992 and 1995. This book gave me the opportunity to give many presentations and guest on podcasts to enlighten those less familiar with the genocide that took place in Bosnia perpetrated by ultranationalist Serbs. Some of the highlights for me include presenting at the Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference (Purdue University), a book tour in Utica with presentations at local sites, presentations in Bowling Green, KY during their Srebrenica Genocide Memorial commemoration week, UT Austin "Slavic Connection" podcast, and Seoul National University's guest speaker at their Gender Studies Program.
In 2019, I began to collect stories of survivors of the war in Bosnia, and who resettled in the U.S. Thus far, I have interviewed people who escaped from Srebrenica, Doboj, Donja Vakuf, Bosanski Novi, and Visegrad. They live here in places such as Grand Rapids, MI, Worcestor, MA, San Jose, CA, Boston, MA, and Utica, NY. I have also gotten essays from young adult children of survivors who reflect on what it has been like for them as the next generation. These will all be published beginning May, 2023, on the Congress of Bosniaks of North America (CBNA) website.
Moris Albahari was a Sephardic Jew in the small village of Drvar during the Holocaust. At the age of eleven, him, his sister, and parents were taken by the Ustashe, the vicious ultranationalists that allied with the Nazis as their puppet government in the former Kingdom of Yugoslavia, renamed the Independent State of Croatia. Moris escapes from the train that is about to take them along with hundreds of other Jews, to a death camp called Jasenovac. He eventually joins Tito's Partisans for the remainder of their struggle to defeat the Nazis and Ustashe. This historical fiction is based on true events. The goal is to publish the book in late 2023.