The Fortress

Cloth Text – $70.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1712-9

Trade Paper – $21.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-1713-6
Publication Date
September 1999
Page Count
406 pages
Trim Size
4 3/4 x 8

The Fortress

A Novel
Mesa Selimovic, translated from the Serbian by Edward Dennis Goy and Jasna Levinger-Goy

The Fortress is one of the most significant and fascinating novels to come out of the former Yugoslavia. Published as Tvrdava in Serbian, it is the tenth and among the best-known novels by Mesa Selimovic (1910-1982). In the novel, Ahmet Shabo returns home to seventeenth-century Sarajevo from the war in Russia, numbed by the death in battle or suicide of nearly his entire military unit. In time he overcomes the anguish of war, only to find that he has emerged a reflective and contemplative man in a society that does not value, and will not tolerate, the subversive implications of these qualities.

Set in Bosnia in the late 1700s, the novel sometimes functions as an artful metaphor for the communist Yugoslavia of Selimovic's day. At other times, the author explores the nuances of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Muslim Ahmet's sustaining marriage to a young Christian woman provides a multicultural tension that strongly resonates with contemporary readers and sensibilities.
About the Author

Meša Selimovic (1910-82) is one of the most significant writers to emerge from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Born in Sarajevo, of Muslim descent, he brought to the literature of Yugoslavia an unprecedented psychological subtlety and an existential concern for characters at crucial moments of their lives. His novel Death and the Dervish was published by Northwestern University Press in 1996.

E. D. Goy was a lecturer in Slavonic studies at Cambridge for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1990.

Jasna Levinger was a lecturer in English language and sociolinguistics at the Universities of Sarajevo and Novi Sad. She now lives in Cambridge.
"The Fortress is a chilling, Kafkaesque tale of baffling, inescapable persecution that evokes Camus's The Stranger and Sartre's No Exit." --Washington Post Book World
"In disturbing echoes of the present day, Ahmet Shabo rehearses issues we live with now, in our apparently distant, transformed world, their somber litany a fitting testament to his creator's prescience." --Review of Contemporary Fiction

"One of the most significant novels to come out of the former Yugoslavia. Profound in its evocation of Bosnian history...Selimovic's subtle and complex characterization, his vivid evocation of the political and social framework of a historical moment and its associations with modern Yugoslavian history, and the insight of his moral and philosophical explorations all contribute to the book's dark power."—Translation Review

“… a striking and memorable novel.” —Danny Yee