Book Groups.

I love that book groups are discussing Time and Tide in Sarajevo! Below you'll find some questions for interesting angles and topics for your discussion. You may also find the Constellation of Inspiration informative. 

A little about the novel:

Evelyn is teaching English in Sarajevo. The story follows her over course of a few days, as she faces an impossible decision - one that puts her students’ ambitions and her friendships at risk. Gripping and heartfelt, Time and Tide in Sarajevo asks: how do we find hope in a world that feels beyond repair?

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Praise for the book:

Time and Tide in Sarajevo hooked me from page one. Bronwyn Birdsall has written a triumph of a book – a tender, careful, beautiful love letter to a city and its people that grapples with belonging and the possibility of repair. I couldn’t put this page-turner down!’ - Sarah Sentilles, author of Draw Your Weapons 

 

‘A vivid and compelling novel that goes right to the beating heart of modern-day Sarajevo.’ - Marele Day, author of Lambs of God

‘A fine thread of tension and mystery binds this beautiful, gentle story. Time and Tide in Sarajevo is both fascinating and touching, encompassing lovely details of life in Sarajevo.’ - Mirandi Riwoe, author of Stone Sky Gold Mountain

'In Time and Tide in Sarajevo, Bronwyn Birdsall constructs an intricate world, where old pain and contemporary frustration ignite and hope and despair are tightly woven. A tinderbox of a novel. Finely-crafted and absorbing.’ - Jessie Cole, author of Staying and Desire

Discussion Questions

  1. ‘Were you here in the siege?’ Evelyn’s neighbour asks her. Although many years have passed since war-time in Sarajevo the reminders are ever present in the novel. What, if any, news do you remember about the siege in the 90s and how do you think it backdrops the story?

  2. Evelyn’s chance encounter with an old school friend, who tells her about the teaching program, changes the trajectory of her life. Do you have a similar story where fate changed your life in immeasurable ways?

  3. Politics are a major theme in the book, from Evelyn’s family foray into environmental justice, to her friend’s discussions against governmental corruption. Do you feel this political discussion added to the novel? Which political views did you most agree with?

  4. Were there any quotes or scenes that stood out to you in the novel?

  5. Vedo was an interesting character and very different from the rest of Evelyn’s highly educated friends and acquaintances. What do you think was the significance of his character to the novel?

  6. Evelyn spent time agonising over what to do with the recording and at times regretted her decision to release it. What would you have done in her situation? Do you think she made the right choice?

  7. What do you think will become of Evelyn’s students? Are you hopeful or worried for their futures?

  8. The author included several Bosnian phrases in the narrative, often untranslated, do you feel this was intentional? How did reading these phrases make you feel?

  9. Which character did you find yourself most relating to?

  10. Aida and Nedim were childhood friends who grew apart, do you think this separation was organic? How would you describe their relationship at the end of the novel?

  11. “Having been raised in the singular shadow of impending climate disaster, she (Evelyn) found the idea of debating anything else almost pointless…” the author states while Evelyn witnesses her friends discussing local politics. Do you think Evelyn is a nihilistic character? Is this why she feels she cannot connect to her more grounded friends?

  12. The whole novel takes place over a couple of days, with each chapter beginning with a timestamp. What did you feel was the pace of the novel? Did you read it quickly or slowly?

  13. Aida and her family are outspoken against the political corruption that takes place in the city, yet, when Tarik was in trouble they use their influence and connections to access information about his detainment. How do you think they would view Evelyn’s decision to ask Mirsad for help? Did you find their actions hypocritical or realistic?

  14. Sead tells Evelyn that they both feel too much, for Evelyn she feels paralysed by that feeling, but for Sead he’s motivated to prioritise the things he holds most dear and move forward.  How do Evelyn’s emotions drive her character?  Did you find that you related to them?  Did they change over the course of the novel?

  15. The book was rich with tactile descriptions, such as the touch of Evelyn’s face on the wall and the itchy static from her stockings. Vesna encourages Evelyn to listen to her body and to act in accordance with its guidance. Evelyn thinks of her grandmother telling her something similar. Can you think of other tactile descriptions in the novel?  Does using tactile description over the other senses change the feeling of the novel?

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Wildflowers picked on a long walk on Igman, long forgotten until I was looking through pho
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Ridiculously dreamy set up for Day 1 of Intro2Industry, the second weekend of #hardcopyAUS
Thought today of this sweaty Tokyo day, in a bookstore so big it spread out over three bui
10 years ago today, Baby B at a protest in Sarajevo. 📷 on film by _jhadzios.jpg
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Thank you to Rebel Bailey for writing these incredible, thought-provoking questions!