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Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,699 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Als der Bürgerkrieg in den 90er Jahren Bosnien heimsucht, flieht der junge Aleksandar mit seinen Eltern in den Westen. Rastlos neugierig erobert er sich das fremde Deutschland und erzählt mit unbändiger Lust die irrwitzigen Geschichten von damals, von der großen Familie und den kuriosen Begebenheiten im kleinen Visegrad. Aleksandar fabuliert sich die Angst weg und "die Zei ...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published 2008 by btb (first published 2006)
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Saša Stanišić
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wrote
- 09/10, would write again.
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
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, balkans, 2013
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.
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
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 dude playing t ...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
A review I wrote for elsewhere--I don't really want to bother capsuling it:

“I want to make unfinished things,” says the young Aleksandar Krsmanovic in Sasa Stanisic’s How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone (Grove Press, 345 pages, $24). He will paint “plums without stones, rivers without dams, Comrade Tito in a T-shirt!” But in Visegrad, Bosnia, in 1992, an unfinished thing is also a rifle without a sniper, a shooting without blood, or a Muslim girl without her rapist.

The witness to all of this
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
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.
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
Isla McKetta
I'll be reviewing this more fully at later this week. Until then, some initial thoughts...

This book contains hilarious and charming views of life from the eyes of a child. It’s playful and fun. And then suddenly the war happens. It’s a weird juxtaposition, but I’m sure it’s true to life, especially for a child who wouldn’t see the same factors leading up to conflict that an adult might. I can see the point of having this jump in subject matter, but from a narrative
Lora Grigorova
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone:

How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone is not your typical war story, though. Instead, Stanišić’s introduces us to the imaginative and magical world of Aleksandar – Chief in Comrade of unfinished things. He has painted nearly 100 paintings without finishing them. He has started many stories without ending them. And he has left Bosnia as a young boy without saving the girl he loves. Set both in Bosnia and in Germany H
I started this book last November, read about 30 pages and stopped. I tried reading it again recently, restarted from the beginning, and it is still as difficult to read as it was the last time I tried, but I persevered on and finally managed to finish it. I could only read in small doses though, as my mind wanders off after 10 pages. The back cover states that this story is about a young boy named Aleksander and his story tellings during the Bosnian war, how he fled to Germany and 10 years late ...more
Strange about this book: when I am reading it, I think it's gorgeous. It's about an interesting time, the war in the Balkans recently, and the young protagonist is funny and observant. I'm only on p. 118 or so but when I put it down, I don't long to go back to it. I'm not hungry for it but I admire it when I do read it. I suppose I'll finish it, I'm just not in a hurry.

The peas were simmering away on the thank-God-we-still-have-power. Less and less light was falling through the ventilation grill
I chose historical fiction as a shelf for this book. I takes place in the former country of Yugoslavia. There are nice bits about being a boy growing up in a relatively unsophisticated town. There are awful bits, barely understood as seen through the eyes of a young boy. The story is quietly told. There is no ranting or raving or choosing side or condemnations. At one point he gets a letter from his cousin, also a young boy, Zoran, "I hate the bridge. I hate the shots in the night and the bodies ...more
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aroundtheworld
It is a small boy's account of his childhood in Bosnia - before, during and after the war. He is not an ordinary child, but one with a lot of imagination. As a piece of historical fiction I should give it the due credits as it captures the essence of the war, the wrath of it and what it leaves behind quite nicely. There is a tone of honesty and heart-wrenching melancholy to it..when the boy talks of the ways people were executed in the river Drina..and how he kept searching fo
Tentative 3 stars. I bet it will go up at some point.

This book really spoke to me in ways I can't articulate. However, the problem being, I don't think that I understood most of the book, because of its fragmentary nature. I got lost, and nearly gave up, and held on for dear life, only faith in the book keeping me going (this is not meant to be a religious metaphor).

I pretty much don't have anything to compare this to.

It's not like Agota Kristof's Book of Lies trilogy, and that's about the close
Jun 18, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting novel. Because of the author's writing style--the story shifts in perspective and time--I think I would have liked it best if I could have read without many interruptions. Since I often start and stop reading, I had to reacquaint myself often.

The novel gives an account of a young boy that lives in war torn Bosnia, his exile, and ultimately his return to a very different homeland. I haven't come across many stories based on this piece of history. I did find it enlighte
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: balkans
"If I were a magician who could make things possible, I'd have lemonade always tasting as it did on the evening Francesco explained how right it was for the Italian moon to be a feminine moon. If I were a magician who could make things possible, we'd be able to understand all languages every evening between eight and nine. If I were a magician who could make things possible, all dams would keep their promises. If I were a magician who could make things possible, we'd be really brave."
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I read this book really fast. Sometimes so quickly that I didn't realize that Aleks was talking about things as horrifying as they were. The storytelling was enchanting, hilarious, heartbreaking and some of the most quotable stuff I've ever read (three-dot-ellipsis man!).

I definitely think I'll reread this again at some point because the translations left me confused with some of the characters and geographical iconography, but overall, this was a beautiful read. Beautiful words.
Sue Kozlowski
I read this novel as part of my quest to read a book written by an author from each of the 169 countries of the world. This author was born and lived in Visegrad, Bosnia/Herzegovina. He fled the country to Germany during the war when he was 14.

It is difficult for me to rate this book - I didn't understand many parts of it - and I'm sure a lot of that is because I am not familiar with the political history of the country and its wars.
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