THE LAUREATE: Ivo Andrić was born in Bosnia in 1892 and died in what is now Serbia in 1975. He was a diplomat for Serbia from 1920 to 1945. After World War 2, he served in several ceremonial posts in the government.
WHAT ARE YOU READING?: The Bridge on the Drina, the novel the Nobel committee specifically noted in its nomination.REVIEW: The Bridge on the Drina is, by far, the best novel about a bridge you will ever read. It’s almost a series of connected short stories, because it stretches from the construction of the bridge in the 16th century through its destruction during World War 1 in 1914. It’s also a portrait of a small town in a remote backwater going through the 18th and 19th centuries, which particularly we Americans never would have seen.
So, apparently the Drina tends to flood. Andric describes several of these floods before we get into the historical meat of the novel, and each time, he says something along the lines of “And the troubled waters passed under the bridge, as they always do.” That appears to be the theme of the book: no matter how the world rages around it, the bridge abides. There is actually a beautiful passage near the end, where the last descendent of the family charged to guard the bridge speaks about his attachment to what others don’t even think about anymore. In summary, he says that there are certain men charged by God to undertake vast works to make life easier and more pleasant for all mankind, and his time (the run-up to World War One, not to mention his entire life spent at the foot of the bridge) was one of madness where great buildings are torn down without thought.
WHAT’S NEXT?: Henryk Sienciewicz’ Quo Vadis?