Time and Tide in Sarajevo

Out August 2022 in Australia with Affirm Press.

You can pre-order the book at: Booktopia, Readings, Abbey's or at your local bookstore.

Gripping and heartfelt, Time and Tide in Sarajevo asks: how do we find hope in a world that feels beyond repair?

Background

By chance, I had the great fortune to spend a few of my formative years in Sarajevo. I was twenty-four when I arrived, and left days before my twenty-ninth birthday.

Before this book, I was initially working on a memoir about those years, which was selected for the Byron Writer’s Festival residential mentorship with Marele Day. The memoir never really communicated what I wanted to say about Sarajevo: a city rich in beauty, history, and complicated narratives. 

Looking back, I can see that I needed to engage with questions that had been circling my mind since I left Sarajevo: where is our place in a world that seems beyond repair? How do we go on when we are surrounded by injustice? In a turbulent era, how can we know what’s right?

Early one morning, I was writing in a cafe and two characters emerged out of nowhere on the page: a politician and a teacher. I was confused – this wasn’t “true”. I had been an English teacher, but I hadn’t taught a politician. By the time I was running for my bus to work, I had realised I was writing fiction. I had a loose idea of the plot, multi-layered and technically quite a challenge.

It took me around four years to write the book before it was signed with the wonderful Affirm Press in Melbourne, Australia. In that time, I had a desk at Writing NSW and participated in the Hardcopy program at ACT Writers Centre. I have no doubt that the support from these fantastic organisations and the people I met through them was the difference between an idea and a manuscript. 

I hope the novel communicates the dark humour, resilience, and melancholic/philosophical atmosphere of the city. It takes place in only a fraction of the city’s many neighbourhoods, all of which have enough stories and characters on each street to fill a bookshelf on their own. The protagonist who emerged, Evelyn, is similar in age and background to me, but responds to life very differently than I do. Through her, I got to experience the city again from a different perspective and I think it’s deepened my understanding of what I witnessed, and maybe even received some answers to those questions.

Synopsis

Evelyn is teaching English in Sarajevo, a beautiful city still recovering decades after the long and brutal siege. Life in the city is tenuous yet welcoming. Dedicated to her work preparing high-schoolers for a scholarship that could change the course of their lives, Evelyn feels more herself than at home in Australia. But when the teenage son of a local hero is stabbed and it seems a cover-up will let the killer go free, Sarajevans turn out in force for protests that threaten to boil over into unrest.

When Evelyn stumbles across evidence that could ignite the volatile situation and dash the ambitions of her students, she faces an impossible decision. What is her responsibility as an outsider to a city that she has come to love?
 
Gripping and heartfelt, Time and Tide in Sarajevo asks: how do we find hope in a world that feels beyond repair?

Author Bio - Long

Bronwyn Birdsall’s first novel Time and Tide in Sarajevo was inspired by the four years she spent living in Sarajevo in her twenties.

Her writing centres around contemporary life and finding meaning in the everyday, and has been selected for several development programs. Bronwyn also runs a digital strategy consultancy alongside her writing practice. She writes from her home in Northern NSW, on Bundjalung country.

Author Bio - Short

Bronwyn Birdsall is a writer based in the Northern Rivers. Time and Tide in Sarajevo is her first novel.

Download high-res author photo here. (Image credit: Camila Tassino)