I worked in a camp for war orphans and refuges after the war (in about 2002)
Ray Bradbury, my mentor, was a hero to readers in Bosnia due to Fahrenheit 451
In August 1992., at the beginning of the Siege of Sarajevo, longest siege in modern times, historical building of National and University Library in Sarajevo was specifically targeted and burned completely with millions of books and publications. Librarians were shot and burned, while trying to rescue rare manuscripts. The library alone was targeted; adjacent buildings stand intact to this day.
Ray’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451, describes a future where books are banned and destroyed and where people struggle to preserve the content of the books by memorizing entire texts.
My friend, Zoran said “After the library was burned we tried to keep the books in our heads,
but a head was not an easy thing to keep on one’s neck in those days either….”
Now, 15 years after the US brokered Dayton Peace Agreement, there are still ongoing efforts to repair the building and to try to create a new book collection, to serve the needs of new generation of students and citizens.
When my first book (Dirk Quigby’s guide to the Afterlife) came out Zoran came to L. A. for the opening… friendships are strong in tough times… and my book mocks religion, so it “spoke to him.”
I introduced Zoran and Ray, and Ray signed this statement for the library to be engraved on a plaque, for the entrance hall of the Sarajevo Library.
“Throughout history burning books has always been an omen of some bigger evil that something wicked this way comes…… We need to learn from the history and keep books and our collective memory safe for the future “
Ray Bradbury 2010