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Amra Sabic-El-Rayess Publishes Memoir on Surviving the Siege in Bosnia
September 16, 2020

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess (Associate Professor of Practice, Teacher’s College) has published The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival (Bloomsbury, September 2020), a coming-of-age memoir about surviving the Serbian military siege. Read her Q&A with Publishers Weekly. You can read an excerpt from the Cat I Never Named.

From the publisher:
“In 1992, Amra was a teen in Bihac, Bosnia, when her best friend said they couldn’t speak anymore. Her friend didn’t say why, but Amra knew the reason: Amra was Muslim. It was the first sign her world was changing. Then Muslim refugees from other Bosnian cities started arriving, fleeing Serbian persecution. When the tanks rolled into Bihac, bringing her own city under siege, Amra’s happy life in her peaceful city vanished.

But there is light even in the darkest of times, and she discovered that light in the warm, bonfire eyes of a stray cat. The little calico had followed the refugees into the city and lost her own family. At first, Amra doesn’t want to bother with a stray; her family doesn’t have the money to keep a pet. But with gentle charm this kitty finds her way into everyone’s heart, and after a few near miracles when she seems to save the family, how could they turn her away?

Here is the stunning true story of a teen who, even in the brutality of war, never wavered in her determination to obtain an education, maintain friendships, and even find a first love—and the cat who gave comfort,hope, and maybe even served as the family’s guardian spirit.”

Read her interview on parallels between what happened in former Yugoslavia and what is happening here and now; and this review essay published by Teachers College.

Listen to her interview on PBS WGVU.