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War Torn

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

War Torn tells the story of a disintegrating Yugoslavia and the impact of the bloody and vicious civil war on individuals’ lives through the eyes of an American journalist, Arthur Cape, and his Bosnian lover, Marta. Cast adrift in Berlin just after the reunification of East and West Germany in the early 1990’s, Arthur meets and soon falls in love with a married woman, Marta. The dedicated mother of a small son, Pino, Marta has resolved to leave Yugoslavia forever and become a German citizen. As a result, her relationship with her husband, who wishes to return to Yugoslavia for good, is frayed. The child of various mixed heritages, with half-siblings and other relatives that seem to define every ethnicity, religion, and sub-culture present in Yugoslavia, Marta symbolizes the land itself.

As Marta’s relationship with Arthur flourishes, however, her husband lures her back to Bosnia and forces her to remain by threatening to keep Pino from returning to Germany with her. Before long, Marta and her family are swept under the fierce and brutal ethnic and cultural civil war that sweeps across the fragmenting former Yugoslavia and rips asunder her homeland of Bosnia, as Serb attacks Croat and Christian attacks Muslim. Marta’s life is plunged into a hellish and nightmarish existence.

Feeling at first spurned by Marta’s return to Bosnia and her hometown of Mostar, Arthur eventually realizes that in her salvation lies his own redemption and freedom. Aided by journalist friends and his press credentials, Arthur embarks on a desperate quest to bring Marta out of the war torn and bloodied lands and back to the West. Through his love for her, Arthur’s indifferent journalism gives way to a passionate belief in the value and potential of every human life.