Monday, August 06, 2012

The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley

Kosovo is not on our minds much. It is not surprising that The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley has not been borrowed from my library recently. But I found it, took it home, and enjoyed reading about a woman's year teaching English in Prishtina, Kosovo.

Though we have pretty much forgotten the former parts of Yugoslavia, the Kosovo Albanians think of us often. They have little trust for the governments of Europe but consider the United States the force of justice on the planet. With NATO and UN forces, we saved them from the Serbian Army which was trying to remove all Albanians from Kosovo in the late 1990s. Naturally, many think of us as friends and hope we will continue to support them with investments and education. Many Kosovar Albanian students dream of learning English, attending college in the United States, and returning to Kosovo to rebuild their country.

Huntley learns all of this first hand from her students, most of whom attend high school. To help them further their language skills, she starts a book club to read in English. Their first book is The Old Man and the Sea, which turns out to speak directly to the plight of down-on-their-luck Kosovars. 

Of course, The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo speaks directly to us. Huntley wonders what role we intend to play in a world in which there seems to be another crisis every week. What will ultimately happen when we seem to never help enough in one country after another?

Huntley, Paula. The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2003. 236p. ISBN 1585422118.

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