Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar.

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess will read from and discuss her memoir, The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival (Bloomsbury, September 2020). Amra grew up in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina and now lives in New York, where she teaches at Teachers College, Columbia University. Moderated by Samira Shackle, freelance journalist and editor of the New Humanist Magazine.

The memoir tells the story of a pivotal period of Bosniak history through the life of Amra, a young Muslim teen struggling to survive in the midst of the Bosnian genocide, and the stray cat who protected her family through it all.

The Cat I Never Named is a personal account of a Bosnian genocide survivor, whose family and friends were slaughtered because of their Muslim heritage during the Serbian siege on the city of Bihać. The memoir bravely wrestles with the rawness of human emotion in times of unembellished agony, exposing the ways war tests humanity. It is a witness of how dangerous visceral ethnic, racial, and religious hatred is. The critically acclaimed book, explores ideas of populism, Islamophobia, and discrimination. It covers themes related to narratives of hatred built around Muslim identities.

This event is organized by Columbia Global Centers | Amman in partnership with Teachers College, the Middle East Institute, and the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, and Bloomsbury.

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess is Associate Professor of Practice and Project Director at the Center for Benefit-Cost Studies in Education at Teachers College Columbia University.




Event Video