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The Fortress

4.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,995 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
A novel on 18th century Sarajevo under Ottoman rule, featuring a soldier returned from the wars. A Muslim, he marries a Christian girl who supports him while he dabbles in politics, eventually leading a raid to rescue a friend from jail.
Paperback, Writings from an Unbound Europe, 406 pages
Published by Northwestern University Press (first published 1970)
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Myridian I heard that too and am adding to my to-read list based on that recommendation. Here's a link to the transcript that references the book. …moreI heard that too and am adding to my to-read list based on that recommendation. Here's a link to the transcript that references the book.
The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo AndrićDeath and the Dervish by Meša SelimovićProkleta avlija by Ivo AndrićThe Fortress by Meša SelimovićJeževa kućica by Branko Ćopić
Best South Slavic Literature
4th out of 267 books — 182 voters
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71st out of 207 books — 120 voters

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Community Reviews

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I read this book long ago, back in high school. It left a really deep mark on me, it changed the way I, a young teen, viewed the world - exactly the thing a good book is supposed to do. The author, Meša Selimović, along with Ivo Andrić, the famed Nobel Prize Winner, is one of the best 20th-century Bosnian writers. In this work he succeeded in capturing the "soul" of ordinary Bosnian folk.

Selimović uses Ahmet Šabo, the novel's protagonist, to express himself about general things in life:

Ivana S.

This book is phenomenal!
Beautiful writing, brilliant character development, interesting story, smooth combination of philosophy and everyday life - ''The Fortress'' is one of those books you need to keep close and read random parts of it when you feel the need to be inspired.
This is life in 380 pages. Just amazing!
I enjoyed every word of it and will definitely buy a copy very soon and read it again.
Grammaticus Kidco
Sep 11, 2013 Grammaticus Kidco marked it as to-read
comes by way of this american life 9/6/13, How I Got Into College, parts 2-3, by michael lewis about emir kamenica (and lauren ames) and the stories about
ourselves that we tell ourselves.
Na Ta
Oct 22, 2012 Na Ta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Išao sam sokacima, bez cilja, nikud, a našao se pred pocrnjelim zidovima svoje kuće, nigdje.
Sep 21, 2008 Ed rated it liked it
Why I feel compelled to include in all my 'reviews' some background on why I read a book, who recommended/gave it to me, etc: I write these primarily as an exercise/diary for my own benefit and it's nice for me to keep track of this.

A couple days before I left for Europe, an old friend from high school with whom I have had only spotty contact for the last decade--Kemal--showed up at an ad hoc see-Ed-off gathering at Liquor Lyle's in Minneapolis. Kemal is Bosnian, he turned up in Minneapolis and
Duško Unchained
Feb 17, 2015 Duško Unchained rated it it was amazing
I can't tell how this book's lines and sentences "sound" in English, but I really hope it's, as near as possible, close to original version, simply because almost every single sentence that Meša Selimović write is a little masterpiece- a message, an advice, something to hang on a wall, something to write on a piece of paper and carry in a pocket, something that you always thought of, but he said it much, much better than you ever would. It's just his unique ingeniousness.

"The Fortress" is full o
Feb 05, 2015 Neira rated it it was amazing
''Kad mi je teško, bježim u samoću. Kad mi je još teže, tražim dobre ljude.''

Definitely one of my favourite books ever!
Bojan Tunguz
Jul 11, 2011 Bojan Tunguz rated it it was amazing
Ahmet Shabo is a young man from 18th century Ottoman Bosnia, who returns to his native Sarajevo after experiencing all the horrors of war during battles in distant Russia. The war has a major psychological effect on him, and he seems unable or unwilling to rejoin the society. A kind friend offers him a decent job with which he'll be able to support himself and perhaps even advance in social circles. Things go wrong for Ahmet, however, after a party that he gets invited to thrown by some very imp ...more
Jan 15, 2013 Marie-aimée rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fr, novels, romance
Un bon roman, le résumé est un peu trompeur : on croit d'abord qu'il s'agit d'un roman policier sur l'évasion de Ramiz, en fait il s'agit d'un roman introspectif d'un homme, Ahmet, rentré de guerre, et de l'interrogation de sa conscience. Forteresse, celle de la loi du silence qu'il ne veut pas observer car il préfère être sincère, forteresse de l'amour aussi, mais lequel gagnera ? Pour ça il faut aller jusqu'à la fin. L'écoulement du temps du récit est différent de ce qu'on peut lire dans un ro ...more
Aug 19, 2014 Valentina rated it it was amazing
An amazing book. Although it's set in Ottoman Empire, the plot can be applied to any time, which makes it so interesting to read.
It's not an easy and fast read, you have to be patient with this book, but it's definitely worth it. I found myself reading one page over and over, trying to choose one quote to add to this review, but all thoughts were just so powerful.
Jul 29, 2014 Natasha rated it really liked it
native of the former Yugoslavia, Selimovic is of Muslim descent and writes in Serbo-Croatian. Delving deep into the Bosnian past in this dense historical novel, he charts the 18th-century adventures of narrator Ahmet Shabo, who returns with a heavy heart to Sarajevo from the battle of Chocim, in Russia. Discovering that almost all of his family has died of the plague, Ahmet first works for Mula Ibrahim, a clerk he rescued in battle. The disaffected ex-soldier loses the job when he insults a pow ...more
Jan 28, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
The summary of this book in no way describes how beautiful it is. It's many stories, like fables, woven into a greater story Instead of morals, however, the stories illustrate gentle Koranic philosophy.
The characters are vibrant, likeable, funny, tender.
One of my favourite parts:

"Man is surrounded my fear as by flame, drowned in it, as in water. He fears fate, the morrow, the law, a stronger man; and he isn't what he wants to be but what he has to be. He fawns before fate, prays to the morrow, b
Sydney Goggins
Oct 13, 2015 Sydney Goggins rated it it was amazing
One of two novels by Meša Selimović that has been translated into English, The Fortress portrays the social conflicts in Bosnia under Ottoman rule, addresses political questions such as the nature of war (portrayed as another way in which the powerful exploit ordinary people) and the importance of free speech (which the authorities are portrayed as repressing in order to preserve a corrupt, unjust political system.)
Though the main character, a Muslim, defies social expectation by marrying a Chr
Stevo Ilišković
Jan 11, 2016 Stevo Ilišković rated it it was amazing
Sve mi je sto imam, i htio bih da joj to kazem, a bojim se da joj ne smetam... Da nisam nasao tebe, bio bih ljut na zivot, pa ne bih imao nista, kao ni sada, ali ne bih znao sta je sreca.
Moje zelje su bile maglovite i rasute, sad su sakupljene u jednom imenu, u jednom liku, stvarnijem i ljepsem od maste... Nespokojan pred nesigurnoscu svega, siguran sam pred ljubavlju... Zbog nje, iskljucive, i ljudi su mi postali blizi.
Ne mogu da mu vjerujem, moje srce odbija njegovu beznadnu misao, protiv ziv
César Carranza
Nov 24, 2015 César Carranza rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ово је један од најбољих књига сам прочитао, има изванредну дубину, као да је писао историју човека)))
Dec 01, 2014 Fredrika marked it as abandoned
comes by way of this american life 9/6/13, How I Got Into College, parts 2-3, by michael lewis about emir kamenica (and lauren ames) and the stories about ourselves that we tell ourselves.
A. Bookzilla.
Jun 13, 2014 A. Bookzilla. rated it it was amazing
But may God forgive you, your petty soul was none of your choosing, it was given to you. You were the last in the queue when there were no other, better ones left.
Feb 10, 2015 Fatima rated it it was amazing
Neopisiva, neoprostiva, više nego odlična, kao i izvanredni Selimović. Jedva čekam da prođe vremena kako bih je ponovo pročitala. Strašno me zanima kako ću je doživljavati malo starija.
Sep 22, 2014 Shadia rated it it was amazing
A book I am always happy to go back to! My high school book that I fell in love with :)

Where Mesa Selimovic is concerned, I can hardly make any criticism to any of his work, nor do I have to, then again, I don't have a right to. Every word that I can think of writing is too small compared to his.

To keep it simple, I will always say that this book should be read, because he shows, in a different, yet simple way the meaning of life, love between two people, relationships between us humans, and al
Justin Griffiths-Bell
Jun 02, 2013 Justin Griffiths-Bell rated it did not like it
Wanted a book to slow my obsessional reading, so I could get on and do some work. This book worked a treat. I could barely pick it up for days on end.
Milovan Todorović
Oct 05, 2011 Milovan Todorović rated it it was amazing
Knjiga u kojoj su sadržane sve tajne svijeta, sva životna filozofija. Fenomenalno djelo!
Aug 29, 2014 Aleksandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favs
Oduševljena sam načinom razmisljanja. Izvanredna knjiga.
Merima Smajic
I cant believe there is an english translation...
May 07, 2010 Ilma rated it it was amazing
An amazing book. Perfectly written.
Dec 19, 2011 Selena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
da me posjeti na domovinu.
May 14, 2015 Lejla rated it it was amazing
IT is one of those books that don't get your heart pumping from excitement, but from sadness and heaviness.I learned so much from this book, and if it's possible, it made me more mature.It is about love and life and creating life and enduring a life.It is about poverty, but richness of one's soul.
Simply beautiful.Amazing writing and amazing characters!
Никола Јанковић
Невероватан опис рата и патње коју рат са собом носи. Књига преиспитује човеково место и улогу у овом свету, оцртава границе његових хтења и могућности, описује значај вољеног бића у најтежим тренуцима живота, показује коју цену је човек дужан да плати за јавно изречену истину. Топло препоручујем свима, прочитајте, нећете зажалити!
Apr 20, 2015 Mirko rated it it was amazing
Great and enchanting storytelling. Set in Bosnia some 500 years ago, but also timeless story, because not much has changed. I had pleasure reading it, it is beuatifully written.
Jun 24, 2014 Emir rated it did not like it
Ovo treba da se zove Jadi mladog Ahmeta, veoma zanimljivo da čovijek koji nije vidio puške očima može toliko pisati o ratu.
Nihada Prnjavorac
Sep 06, 2014 Nihada Prnjavorac rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have ever read.
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Mehmed "Meša" Selimović was a Yugoslav and a Bosnian writer from Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the greatest Bosnian writers of the 20th century. His most famous works deal with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the culture of the Bosniak inhabitants of the Ottoman province of Bosnia.
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“Sve će proći. Ali, kakva je to utjeha? Proći će i radost, proći će i ljubav, proći će i život. Zar je nada u tome da sve prođe?” 209 likes
“Mi smo ničiji. Uvijek smo na nekoj međi, uvijek nečiji miraz. Vjekovima mi se tražimo i prepoznajemo, uskoro nećemo znati ko smo. Živimo na razmeđu svjetova, na granici naroda, uvijek krivi nekome. Na nama se lome talasi istorije kao na grebenu. Otrgnuti smo, a neprihvaćeni. Ko rukavac što ga je bujica odvojila od majke pa nema više ni toka, ni ušća, suviše malen da bude jezero, suviše velik da ga zemlja upije. Drugi nam čine čast da idemo pod njihovom zastavom jer svoju nemamo. Mame nas kad smo potrebni, a odbacuju kad odslužimo. Nesreća je što smo zavoljeli ovu svoju mrtvaju i nećemo iz nje, a sve se plaća pa i ova ljubav. Svako misli da će nadmudriti sve ostale i u tome je naša nesreća. Kakvi su ljudi Bosanci? To su najzamršeniji ljudi na svijetu, ni s kim se istorija nije tako pošalila kao sa Bosnom. Juče smo bili ono što danas želimo da zaboravimo, a nismo postali ni nešto drugo. S nejasnim osjećajem stida zbog krivice i otpadništva, nećemo da gledamo unazad, a nemamo kad da gledamo unaprijed. Zar smo mi slučajno tako pretjerano meki i surovi, raznježeni i tvrdi. Zar se slučajno zaklanjamo za ljubav kao jedinu izvjesnost u ovoj neodređenosti, zašto? Zato što nam nije svejedno. A kad nam nije svejedno znači da smo pošteni. A kad smo pošteni, svaka čast našoj ludosti !” 77 likes
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