Bosnia’s stand-ups jest about genocide


A SREBRENICA widow is asked to identify her husband’s body. It is not the most promising start to a joke, but Navid Bulbulija, sipping Coca-Cola outside a café in Sarajevo, less than two minutes’ walk from the city’s Srebrenica Massacre Memorial Museum, continues anyway.

“The problem is that the mass grave that’s been excavated only contained the men’s lower halves,” the stand-up, a devout Muslim, says. “The woman is led from body bag to body bag and presented with the remains in each. ‘That’s not him. That’s not him. That’s not him,’ she says. ‘And this guy’s not even from Srebrenica!’” It elicits a groan from your correspondent. Mr Bulbulija shrugs. “There is a reason I don’t tell it on stage,” he says.

Mr Bulbulija does not consider himself to be a particularly political comedian. He claims that the governance of Bosnia and Herzegovina is so absurd in and of itself—he cites the country’s three-person, three-ethnicity presidency, where the chair rotates every…Continue reading

Powered by WPeMatico

Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

Esther Kinsky goes with history’s flow River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books. IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing …