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How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,306 Ratings  ·  189 Reviews
For young Aleksandar - the best magician in the non-aligned states and painter of unfinished things - life is endowed with a mythic quality in the Bosnian town of Višegrad, a rich playground for his imagination. When his grandfather dies, Aleks channels his storytelling talent to help with his grief.

It is a gift he calls on again when the shadow of war spreads to Višegrad,
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 10th 2008 by Grove Press (first published 2006)
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Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bosnia

Višegrad, il ponte sulla Drina (fine XVI secolo).

Dopo alcune decine di pagine durante le quali mi sono passati davanti gatti neri e gatti bianchi, Dolly Bell, papà in viaggio d’affari, il tempo dei gitani, pesci freccia che ballano il valzer, l’intera filmografia di Kusturica per intenderci, che già ho sofferto molto a vederla in sala, trovarla riproposta per intero qui è stato un colpo ferale.
Al punto che m’è venuto da rimpiangere Jancsó, il che è tutto dire. E rimpiang
Kada sam bila mala, baba bi me svaki put terala iz sobe kada razvlači jufke za pitu („Da ne lete dlake“). Bio je to čitav ritual: prvo rasklopi kauč, pošto je njena jufka bila veća od tepiha, koristila se posebna plahta za razvlačenje, znalo se kako se pita slaže u tepsiju. A ja sam bila opčinjena time kako je moguće da testo bude potpuno providno koliko je tanko, a da se nikad ne pocepa, čak ni kada ga baba podigne kao da širi veš.

To mi je prošlo kroz glavu manje-više čim sam počela da čitam „W
Frogy (Ivana)
Da sam carobnjak, pa da znanja i vestine mogu da izvadim iz sesira, kao zeca...ova knjiga ne bi imala kraj.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Considerazioni in italiano a seguire)

Aleksandar is a boy between 8 and 14, who lives in Višegrad, goes to school, loves fishing and spending his days with friends like any other child in the world.
The death of Slavko, beloved grandfather of Aleks, gives us a first clue of what the novel is about, the necessity of coping with loss and endings. All that’s left from Slavko are a magic wand and a cupboard hat, his last gift for the boy. A great gift, indeed: a lesson about life and the way of facin
Saša Stanišić
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: wrote
- 09/10, would write again.
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-german
Exuberant. Playful. Farcical. Mouth-watering. Delectable. Poignant. Heart-rending. Thought-provoking. Snort-provoking.
I think it's safe to assume that Our Hero Aleksander's biography is well grounded in Saša Stanišić's own: born in Višegrad in 1978, of a Serbian father and a Bosniak mother. The utterly consistent voice of ten-year old Aleksander as narrator means, however, that this is never an issue, they are just his Mum and Dad after all, but watch the names, be aware of the names of his gra
Sesili Li
Sticajem okolnosti, u periodu od januara do danas, pročitala sam ovu knjigu tri puta. I dalje plačem na istim mestima, i dalje se smejem na istim mestima. Kraj me svaki put iznova baci u dilemu, i nikada se nije desilo da se moje ideje poklope sa onim što o kraju romana misle drugi ljudi. Ovo će zauvek biti jedna od mojih omiljenih knjiga. <3
Jul 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Oriana by: Boldtype

I finished this book ages ago, but alas I have not had time to do up a proper review. It was spectacular, though. More soon, I swear.


Reasons why I already adore this book, even though I'm less than fifty pages in:

1. As I learned from bookfriend Brian, the other edition has a photo of a man on the cover, which it turns out (unbeknownst even to him) is Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snickett, a.k.a. my boyfriend.

2. The chapter titles are, depending on your preference, either twee and preten
Miloš Milivojević
First things first - ja nemam običaj da pišem reviewove, često zato što ne znam šta bih rekao, a još češće zato što su drugi ljudi sve to rekli bolje nego što bih ja to ikada mogao. Međutim, Vojnik je izuzetak, jer nekako imam osećaj da moram nešto da kažem posle ove knjige.

Knjigu sam dobio od voljene osobe (Jelena, hvala <3) i samim tim sam već i pre nego što sam je i započeo bio malo pod pritiskom da mi se dopadne. Pročitavši prvu rečenicu, shvatio sam da šanse da mi se ne svidi zapravo nij
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Stanisic writes of his boyhood growing up in Bosnia before and during the war, but it's not your typical "war story," rather it's a heart-wrenching, hilarious account of an imaginative childhood that happens to include a war. For those who have ever visited Bosnia or are from there, the sites, sounds, and people will strike a true chord that will leave you longing to return. The Drina features solidly in the book as well and it is probably the best love story about the river ...more
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2013, balkans
Stanišić beautifully captures the disjointed, nonsensical chaos of wartime in a darkly comical and endearing voice. I especially enjoyed the last third of the book. Anybody who has left their homeland only to return an accidental stranger will ache at Aleksander’s homecoming.
Aug 01, 2011 added it
How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Sasa Stanisic (Trans. by Anthea Bell, Grove Press, 2008)

How The Soldier Repairs the Gramophone has an unusual structure: it is divided into two parts, the first one with the same title as the novel, the second titled “When Everything Was All Right” and authored by Aleksandar Krsmanovic, the novel’s narrator (and, obviously, an alter ego of Sasa Stanisic). This is not a story within a story, but rather, two twin stories, as both tell the story of a young
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awarded, serbian
This is an outstanding novel! I’ve read it actually twice during last year, first as ARC which I was aiming to keep in my permanent collection but then I received definitive copy which is staying (actually it’s already taken from me) in PC. So I’ve read both, ARC and definitive book and they are the same

This book reminded me on my childhood during old Yugoslavia, there are so many familiar things, phrases, the way of thinking, positive-ness, food (OMG food!), humour... Oh and ideology, Communis
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The best contemporary novel that I've read. It tells the story of Aleksander Krsmanovic, a young Bosnian boy whose family is forced to emigrate to the town of Essen in Germany during the war. He relives his childhood, memories of his grandfather, the fall of Communism, his inability to cope with death and war. He searches desperately for Asija, a girl he met in a stairwell in a crowded building as Serbian soldiers looted and destroyed. He tells stories that he can't finish.
The book's words flow
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The story is in two parts. The first written by a young Aleksander living in the Bosnian town of Visegrad was humorous, insightful and full of great writing. As a child, Aleksander is imaginative and surrounded by a large and supportive family. But in 1992 the Serbs came and a genocide of the Bosniak population resulted. Aleksander and his family escape from the madness to Germany.
The second part starts after a short story written by Aleksander. The book then becomes a sequence of stories/events
This is beautiful writing. Stanišić's great love for Yugoslavia shines and of course it makes me reflect sadly on what was lost. However, I think the narrative skipped around way too much. Sometimes I had a hard time figuring out what was going on. I liked the first half of the book much better than the second.
Hana Kazazovic
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evo i osvrt na blogu ovdje 5 zvjezdica kao najtoplije preporuka. Dugo sam ganjala ovu knjigu i srećom naša biblioteka ima primjerak pa sam je i uganjala :)
May 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Let me over-generalize for a second and say there are two kinds of novels: the ones we read for the plot ("Gone With the Wind," say, or my beloved "Dragonlance" series) and the ones we read for the writing (Nicholson Baker's "The Mezzanine", where all that "happens" over 144 pages is that the narrator buys some shoelaces on his lunch hour). Bosnian-born Saša Stanišic;'s first novel, "How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone," which was short-listed for the 2006 German Book Prize, manages to be bot ...more
Feb 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I remember feeling really excited about the potential of this book when I first picked it up in the bookstore, but when I actually started to read it in earnest, I found myself disappointed. This novel struck me as by-the-numbers magical realism, with a dash of socialist kitsch and a couple of scenes ripped wholesale out of a Kusturica film. After the first hundred or so pages, the book improved-- there are a couple of chapters near the end that are downright heartshattering-- but it remained a ...more
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people very curious about the former yugoslavia, i don't even know who else
Shelves: read-in-2008
this is about a kid living through the conflict in the former yugoslavia & sharing his stories of living through the war via a series of reminiscences that sound a lot like parables. it had a bit of an everything is illuminated vibe, crossed with aesop's fables or something. i struggled at times with the gazillions of characters & lack of clear narrative arc. i was kind of relieved when it was over, even though a lot of the writing was quite beautiful (even in translation). & that du ...more
Marc Nash
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the first 3 chapters I didn't think I was going to enjoy this. I find it hard to buy into child narrators because usually the voice written for them is too literary, their perspective too adult for me to buy into that this is a child talking. But chapter 4 completely turned round my opinion. A delightful and uproarious scene about a man discovering his wife in the act of making him a cuckold and the crazy little associative details given by the narrator (involving copies of "Das Kapital" a ...more
Harry Rutherford
How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić is my book from Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Read The World challenge. I actually had a different writer in mind — Ivo Andrić, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961 — but when I saw this in the bookshop I switched. Mainly because most of the books I’ve been reading are a few decades old, and it’s nice to find one which is fresh out of the oven (published in German in 2006; the English translation by Anthea Bell in 2008).

How the S
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorieten
Een goed verhaal, zou je hebben gezegd, is als onze Drina, nooit een stil stroompje, ze sijpelt niet, ze is onstuimig en breed, zijrivieren komen in haar uit, maken haar groter, ze treedt buiten haar oevers, borrelt en bruist, wordt hier en daar ondieper, maar dat zijn dan stroomversnellingen, ouvertures tot de diepte en geen gekrabbel.

Aleksander, alias Sasa Stanisic, vertelt wat zijn overleden opa zou hebben verstaan onder een goed verhaal. Hoe de soldaat de grammofoon repareert is als de Drin
Jul 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Obožavam ovu knjigu, ma proglašavam je najboljom koju pročitah u 2013.
Pisana na tako lijep, jednostavan, pitak i lucidan način, jedna od onih knjiga koje ćete pročitati u jednom dahu, i željeti još, od onih knjiga gdje ti osmjeh na momente ne silazi s lica... Njezina podloga je 'velika povijest' dok je u fokusu je ona 'mala', osobna, isprepletene su praćene očima djeteta, čije je djetinjstvo, onakvo kakvo je u početku, baš poput njegovih slika nedovršeno. Ako ste i sami odrastali tih devedeseti
How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone deftly tells of the experiences of growing up and being caught up in a war. Comrade in Chief of the Unifinished, Aleksander lives a typical boy's life until his city of Visegard is thrust into war in the early 1990s. His story is one of humor and heartbreak as he desperately tries to remember everything from his former life, making lists and telling the stories of people from his city, places he frequented, and a girl that may or may not have existed and be ...more
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gelezen-in-2009
Wat een bijzonder boek. Ga het lezen als je van de stijl van Jonathan Safran Foer houdt, als je zin hebt in mooie zinnen, als je benieuwd bent naar de blik van een kind op de oorlog in Joegoslavië, als je wilt weten wat mensen elkaar aan kunnen doen tijdens blinde haat en als je je een voorstelling wilt maken van wat er van een land en zijn bewoners over is gebleven als de strijd voorbij is. Ga het niet lezen als je eigenlijk geen tijd hebt, want het vergt de nodige concentratie en echt makkelij ...more
Nick G
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-have
The real magic of this work is the writing. War aside, the author simply captures a child's perception of a tragic occurrence with poetic beauty. I've never experienced a voice that was this unique, perhaps even experimental, that didn't eventually become tiring on the reader. Here though, the beauty of the writing continually expands with the story. Reminds me of how a child's mind can often be more sensible than an adult's.
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius... A sharp narrative of the Bosnian war of the early nineties and what becomes of its survivors.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rambling! Only made it to page 59
Dec 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Tragically funny, poetic, quirky. Incredible talent.
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Saša Stanišić is a writer of fictions.
More about Saša Stanišić
“Missing someone, they say, is self-centered.
I self-center you more than ever.”
“I'm against endings. I'm against things being over. Being finished should be stopped! I am Comrade-in-Chief of going on. I support furthermore and etcetera!” 27 likes
More quotes…