Ordinary, forgotten objects - a grandfather's beekeeping journals, a rusty benzene lighter, an army issued raincoat - become the lenses through which Jergovic investigates the joys and sorrows of a family living through a century of war. Jergovic sees his country through the devastation of the First World War, the Second, the Cold, then the Bosnian war of the 90s; through its changing street names and borders, shifting seasons, through its social rituals at graveyards, operas, weddings, markets in a portrait of an era.
Kin is deeply interested in [...] moments that trickle down through the years, and how, even when languages and the names of countries have changed, when wars have completely reshaped the region, these fleeting seconds have stayed rooted in a family’s mind. Jergović carefully collects the lost objects of family members, in the process documenting, imagining, recreating, and brooding over their lives. The result is a novel made up of stories of varying lengths, with swooping and intersecting narrative arcs ... Kin is a sprawling epic that uses a range of literary resources to capture as fully as possible every branch of a family tree.
Bosnian writer Jergović (Mama Leone) pulls off an intricate and innovative narrative encompassing biography, history, travelogue, and fiction ... Jergović devotes the first section to quotidian ancestral history, but even here the scope widens with soaring chapters on the geopolitical changes after WWII ... Jergović’s exhausting and astonishing project offers endless rewards.
Vast, generous-spirited ... Jergović’s pages are peppered with walk-ons from Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian history ... There is beauty aplenty, and ample monstrosity, in Jergović’s account ... A masterwork of modern European letters that should earn the author a wide readership outside his homeland.