Shards, by Ismet Prcic
In beginning a description of Ismet Prcic’s (pronounced Per-Sick) debut novel “Shards” I first must mention that novel is filled with stories, scenes, and characters that are truly enjoyable to read and range from heartbreaking to humorous. But what really makes the book stand apart was Prcic’s fluid nature of storytelling that made the novel *novel* for me.
The bulk of the Story is set in 1990’s Bosnia, where Prcic comes of age the war ravaged city of Tuzla. It is in Bosnia that his stories are the most common and can resonate with any Young Adult. While the war rages, Ismet (main character of the same name of our author) and his friends carry on and live like most teenage boys caught up in girls, drugs, and under the sway of a charismatic theater director.
The main action of the story centers around Ismet’s flight from Bosnia to be sponsored by his uncle in California, but it is when he arrives in California that Ismet begins to come unglued, suffering from insomnia, alcoholism, memories from the war, and beginning to fuse his memories and identity with Mustafa- a young man (or figment of Ismet’s imagination?) that fought in the war and serves as Ismet’s mirror image. Prcic alternates between Mustafa’s and Ismet’s story and the reader is left uncertain what is ‘real’ and what is fiction- where Mustafa ends and Ismet begins.
Not only was it refreshing to read about a time an place that I’m largely unfamiliar with- but Prcic’s style plays fast and loose with the conventions of story telling. Is it a memoir or a novel? Will the real Ismet Prcic please stand up? The story delightfully sends you ’round the bend with Mustafa’s and Ismets shared and diverging histories- and strangely was reminiscent of the main character(s) of ‘Fight Club’- complete with a killer ending.
Note: This is a Goodread First Read
Goodreads rating: *****