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Twice Born

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  7,527 ratings  ·  629 reviews
This international bestseller is a sweeping portrait of motherhood, loss, and redemption in war-torn Sarajevo.
Filled with memories of the four-year siege of Sarajevo, Gemma reluctantly boards a flight from her native Rome to that war-scarred city with her sixteen-year-old son, Pietro. She hopes to teach her son about the city of his birth and about Diego, the father he n
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published May 12th 2011 by Viking Adult (first published November 25th 2008)
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Carlotta Micale Correct. I've tried to look for it, and apparently doesn't exist in english (but it's available in french, dutch, romanian, russian, greek...)…moreCorrect. I've tried to look for it, and apparently doesn't exist in english (but it's available in french, dutch, romanian, russian, greek...)(less)

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Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,527 ratings  ·  629 reviews

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Apr 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Daisy by: Shelf Awareness
I just told the plot of this novel out loud to my husband. And he listened.
It leaves me with my heart pounding and a little bit broken. It takes turns I didn't always see coming. And it shows more clearly pictures of the Balkan war than the ones I saw with my own eyes on television and in the newspapers. (Isn't it often that way?)
I'm wavering between 4 and 5 stars for it because some sections were a bit long-winded but in hindsight, what could be edited?
You can talk about war. Or it can happen
Adrianna Grezak
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
If this was an American story, it would only center around Gemma and Diego's relationship. Since it is a European story, it goes deeper and explores the boundaries and definitions of love, relationships, sex, and motherhood.

I almost don't know how to review this because it is translated and it's a story pertaining to a specific culture and backhistory - I noticed American goodreaders are rating this book lower. The writing is choppy which would normally be enough for me to stop reading. As a dif
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Italian woman returns to Sarajevo with her teenage son to revisit the places and people she and his father knew during the fighting there.

This was an incredibly intense read - I both wanted to read it and didn't want to read it at the same time as I was afraid I wouldn't be able to cope with learning what had gone on. I found myself reading in short bursts and having to steel myself to pick it up again each time I put it down. But it was so compelling that I absolutely had to get to the end,
Maria Marinas
Oct 25, 2011 rated it liked it
The book would be amazing, if 100 pages in the middle were simply cut off. I almost left it there. Glad I didn't as the last third is extremely powerful. A deep, strong and realistical analysis of the war and siege of Sarajevo and the damage it did to its inhabitants. A pity that the quest of motherhood of Gemma takes the middle of the book. The doctors visits, travels, thoughts, etc. would be more interesting if they were simpler and faster, as it steals all the momentum of the plot and diverts ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
now this is such a disgrace of the taste, the logic, the literature and the history.
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Julie by: Brion

This book was assigned to me by my brother for our two-person book club, and it's taken me quite a while to get through it. He advised me ahead of time that I would probably "either love it or hate it," but I fell a little short of that. I don't think I'd say I enjoyed it, but it had some interesting parts and the last 1/8 of the book made the rest of it more interesting - like watching the last half hour of The Shawshank Redemption.

The basic concept of the book - of Gemma and her son Pietr
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It's been a week since I finished this book, and I can still clearly recall the devastation of Sarajevo and the personalities of the characters. The beautiful writing was poetic and grim. I'll be reading this book again someday. ...more
Oh wow..

This book starts in the 1984 in Bosnia during the Winter Olympics. There, Gemma who is visiting from Italy meets people she will cherish for the rest of her life - Gojko the poet, and Diego the photographer who ends up becoming the love of her life. During their relationship, Diego and Gemma cherish Bosnia as a place where it all started and end up in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War.
16 years later, Gemma returns with her 16-year-old son Pietro, to introduce him to the city he was born i
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
The story of a marriage, of a war, of love. But not a love story by any conventional definition of the term. Gemma and Diego are a mismatched Italian couple who meet in Sarajevo and are drawn back to that city even as the siege is beginning.

The story moves fluidly through time: the present as Gemma takes her son Pietro to Sarajevo to see the city of his birth, and the past as the full story unfolds.

Most than once I almost gave up on the book, as I sensed events unfolding that I didn't want to
Nov 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 65%. I gave this book a fighting chance, but it just was not for me. I realized that I did not like a single character. They were all obsessed and self-absorbed. I did not care for the flowery writing and heavy thesaurus use either. When one character made an ultra-stupid choice, I finally gave up. I found a summary and spoilers online, and I am 100% glad I did not finish this book. Ugh.
Jan 20, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wonderful story told in such an affected and studied style...
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing writer! Probably one of the best books I have ever read.
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Since reading and enjoying Steven Galloway's The Cellist of Sarajevo and The Girl in the Film by Charlotte Eager, I'm irresistibly drawn to novels set around the Bosnian crisis and this one is a corker. The writing is quite superb - matter-of-fact and poetic in its descriptions by turn - sometimes too poetic, but I think that's to do with the translation. The modern story of Gemma's troubled relationship with her teenage son Pietro is well told and engaging through the return to Sarajevo sixteen ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Mazzantini managed to very impressively describe the mentality of the people of former Yugoslavia during both times of war and times of peace from an outsider's perspective. The characters are all very strong, but the character of Gojko really stands out. She also amazingly shows the impact of war on a person's mental health, both through the Italian Gemma and through the Sarajevans.

This book is more philosophical than plot-based, so if you are looking for a quick read, I would not recomme
Feb 26, 2012 rated it it was ok
I gave it up, quit reading it. I wanted to read more about Sarajevo and instead got the LONG story of a woman and her love trying to get pregnant. I just didn't care. ...more
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Oct 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF. I read 58 pages and not interested to continue.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: italian, 2019
2,5 stars.
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book left me breathless. It gripped me from the first page and didn’t let go until the very last page. It crawled under my skin, penetrated my mind; I breathed it, lived it, dreamt it. It crossed my path at the right time, when I started experiencing personal growth and rethinking and re-evaluating my life, beliefs.
This book was like an unexpected blow to my head that knocked me senseless...or maybe knocked some sense into me. It crept inside me, turned me inside out, leaving me raw with w
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Wow... This is one of those books that grab you and never let you go! It's beautiful and fascinating, but schocking and awfully tragic at the same time. Reading about the devastation and siege of Sarajevo, that wonderful and unique town, back in 1990s tortured me throughout the book, yet I kept reading and I couldn't stop. If anyone has ever thought a war might be justified, they will change their opinion after reading this book. There is nothing more tragic and more wrong than a war-torn countr ...more
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, italian
Glad I finally made it through this, as I was struggling at times but it was worth it in the end.
The vocabulary was pretty rich for my level of Italian, which may have put me off a little, but I also felt it was too long and rambling. Mazzantini also likes to hit you over the head with metaphors (in a story about fertility the egg imagery was a bit much) and the Ivo Andrić story about the goat and the wolf is leaned on pretty heavily.
However the story is involving and finally moving, and even if
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I won this through a goodreads giveaway. And it is the paperback version. It is also an Advance Uncorrected Proof; so there were a few spellings and punctuation problems but nothing major.

What can I say about this book? It's beautiful. Translated from Italian, it is a slow, deep read. I'm usually a fast reader but this book wouldn't let me go through it quickly. It demands a paced, calm reading. It demands the depths that the language provides. Beautiful, poetic language. The story is heartbreak
May 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible book! I won it from Goodreads, and was so glad that I did because this book is just so sophisticated and beautifully written. It is the story of an Italian woman and her Serajevan husband who are unable to conceive due to infertility. The book takes you on their journey through flashbacks detailing their life together, as well as the woman's personal journey years after the war. The book takes place in both Italy and Sarajevo during the war and afterwards.It is fiction, bu ...more
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't praise this book enough...I wished it never ended. I was Gemma, I was having discussions with Pietro, my teenage son, I was traveling back to Sarajevo, I was meeting Gojko, remembering the war years, seeing Aska and Diego together and feeling all the pain of an old, chewed, but never-meant-to-end love. I don't understand how can someone write like this. The writer was in Sarajevo, surely after the war...but the way she transports you to the spot, in the middle of the black hole of the si ...more
Mark Satchwill
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I had to read this for a Book Club and I found it really hard work to get through. It's actually a good story , but for me the writing style was over-wrought - choppy, with endless similes, some of which were rather strange (but that might be the translation's fault). It also didn't help that I found the narrator unlikeable, so wasn't very sympathetic to her feelings.
I found the book only really came to life in the last third, during the siege of Sarajevo. She writes about the horrors of the wa
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
I expected to enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed "Don't Move" by the same author, but my anticipation has been deceived. Mrs. Mazzantini elaborates too much on little unnecessary details that in my opinion distract the reader's attention from the incomplete characters she has created. The narrator is too pathetic, I could barely stand her. The writing style is too chaotic, the story line too predictable.
This is one of those rare occasions where I liked the movie better than the book just beca
Jill Robbertze
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
A haunting, breathtaking drama set against the backdrop of the siege of Sarajevo, this book will stay with me for a long time. I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a memoir, because although translated from Italian and told in a beautiful, although sometimes overly poetical tone it is still very believable. The plot is very well developed and has some unexpected twists that left me almost wanting to reread the whole book to have an even better understanding of the characters. This is ...more
Claudette Alexander
Nov 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read the preview somewhere and liked the concept of the story. I got and read the flaps and liked it. I'm a sucker for mother son bonding. I started to read and liked the beginning but by Chapter two I could not continue. It lost interest to me. Probably because the names of places were so foreign to me and it lacked any humour. But I could tell the author was very good with the craft of writing but I need a little more oomph to continue. Hence I had to give it up by Chapter 2 as it became bor ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent account of the siege of Sarajevo and the emotional upheaval experienced by all who lived through that time. The author's use of flashback was an effective way to tell the story of Gemma and her overriding need to birth a child of Diego. It is not until the end of the 400 pages that the reader learns the truth about what happened on Mount Trebevic that night early on in the siege. This new information, answering the questions in the reader's mind since much earlier in the book, opens ...more
This book is a heartbeat, a rhythmic thumping in the ear. It is a wound slowly bleeding through the bondage over it. It is a book that does not read but rather feels.

It's an incredible accomplishment by Mazzantini. The wish to weave together such hefty themes as the gruesome Bosnian war, the yearning for a child and the persistance of love can be like walking on thin ice. And still, she manages to do it so effortlessly. Her narrative is also unique: the mataphors she uses are beautifully surpri
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Margaret Mazzantini is an Italian writer and actress. She became a film, television and stage actor, but is best known as a writer. Mazzantini began her acting career in 1980 starring in the cult horror classic Antropophagus, she has also appeared in television and theatre. As a successful writer her novels include Non ti muovere (Don't Move) which was adapted into a film of the same name and is d ...more

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