Thinner than a Hair - Adnan Mahmutovic

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Mahmutović, himself a Bosnian refugee, paints a raw, intimate portrait of Bosnian village life and of the seething ethnic tensions that tore it apart. He writes prose that’s sometimes subtle and delicate—“she gave the impression of a half-asleep fox from Russian stories, sly and ready to bite even when she looked tame and kind”—and sometimes sensuous and earthy, words that manage to be both psychologically acute and lyrical. Fatima’s longing for a life of warmth and vibrancy as her reality grows cold and desolate makes for an imaginative rendering of the damage wrought by racism and war. A fine, moving debut from a talented writer. — KIRKUS DISCOVERIES

It is an extraordinary book describing the experiences of a young woman coming of age during the conflict in the Balkans. … The book is well-paced and highly satisfying, as well as an excellent page-turner. — CLARE DUDMAN, award-winning author of A Place of Meadows and Tall Trees and Wegener’s Jigsaw.


[Thinner than a Hair] is narrated in the convincing voice of a young Bosnian Muslim woman. — TABISH KHAIR (author of The Bus Stopped, Filming and Man of Glass.) From The Wall Street Journal.


[Thinner than a Hair] shakes you, it shows you things you may never have seen, it is deeply human and utterly unsentimental. Adnan’s prose is both poetic and grittily real. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is first and foremost a gripping story, with the added benefits of an insight into a time and a culture I had very little knowledge of. – TANIA HERSHMAN (Orange Prize Commended author of The White Road and editor of The Short Review).


I was particularly struck by Mahmutović’s ability to create a totally believable female narrator who I cared about. He inhabits the female psyche extremely well, enabling the reader to sink with no problem at all into the fictive world he weaves. Fatima’s first real love, Aziz, is a most memorable character as well. Mahmutović explores Fatima’s complex relationships with not only the man but with his family and her own, as the clouds of war loom ever closer. — VANESSA GEBBIE (author of Words from a Glass Bubble and Short Circuit)


Sometimes there are just unique and lovely writers who stand out, and Mahmutović is one of them. He is a multi-talented creative whirlwind. … There are instances of such lovely and unique prose that I want to stop and savor, but I did not, for I was compelled to keep going–I had a hard time putting down this book, turning page after page. Lovely lovely lovely. - KATHRYN MAGENDIE, bestselling author of Tender Graces and Secret Graces


[E]ach and every word is pregnant with profound emotions and meaning. –MOA AARICIA LINDUNGER, Sentinel Literary Quarterly.


I could almost smell and taste the deliciousness. Mahmutović tells the story of the Bosnian war, a story of love, loss, doubt, and sacrifice. I was astonished at how Mahmutović made me love Fatima, respect her. In most cases the story of a Muslim girl raised on rigid Muslim ideologies in a small conservative society, turning to prostitution for a living would be received with resentment or shame, but Fatima is a true survivor a realist. The author does not only try to justify Fatima’s fallen fate, he actually succeeds. — FATIMA Al MATAR (author of The Heart and the Subsidiary)

Author biography