Inspired by real-life accounts of the Siege of Sarajevo, only thirty years ago,Â Black ButterfliesÂ is a heartrending and utterly captivating portrait of disintegration, resilience and hope.
‘An intensely evocative and deeply moving debutÂ – I held my breath as I read’Â Ruth Gilligan, RSLÂ Ondaatje Prize-winning author ofÂ The Butchers
Sarajevo, spring 1992. Each night, nationalist gangs erectÂ barricades, splitting the diverse city into ethnic enclaves; eachÂ morning, the residents – whether Muslim, Croat or Serb -Â push the makeshift barriers aside.
When violence finally spills over, Zora, an artist and teacher,Â sends her husband and elderly mother to safety with her daughter in England. Reluctant to believe that hostilities will last more thanÂ a handful of weeks, she stays behind while the city falls under siege.Â As the assault deepens and everything they love is laid to waste, blackÂ ashes floating over the rooftops, Zora and her friends are forced toÂ rebuild themselves, over and over. Theirs is a breathtaking storyÂ of disintegration, resilience and hope.Â
Praise for Black Butterflies
‘Beautifully written andÂ hauntingly evocative,Â Black ButterfliesÂ distils into a single consciousness a nation’s violent trauma and an artist’s sense of hope. Priscilla Morris has crafted aÂ rich and highly accomplished debut‘ Sam Byers, author ofÂ Perfidious Albion
‘In this compelling and convincing debut novel, Morris brilliantly evokes a world slipping, day by day, under the surface of the opaque waters of war. Dark and yet starkly beautiful,Â Black ButterfliesÂ is a narrative of how violence scars the soul of a city and its inhabitants. It is at once a testament to the victims and survivors of the Siege of Sarajevo, to the power of art and to Morris’s skills as a storyteller, all the more keenly felt for the subtlety with which they are deployed’ Aminatta Forna, author ofÂ Happiness
‘Black ButterfliesÂ isÂ incredible, a must-read. There are few novels that stay with you after the final page is read, but this is one. Brutal yet also uplifting,Â immersiveÂ and real, it shows what the human spirit is capable of’ Karen Angelico, author ofÂ Everything We Are
‘An astonishingly good debut, chronicling one of the darkest times in global history. It reads so authentically that I might assume it was a book in translation, albeit by an excellent translator. Like food and fuel in the Siege of Sarajevo, no word is wasted. Zora’s story broke my heart, and I hope it will open the hearts of all those who read it to refugees, at a time when history is destined to repeat itself’ Liz Nugent, author of Our Little Cruelties
‘Black Butterflies is an elegy to the vibrant and inclusive society that was subjected to a murderous assault in 1992. But it is more than this: without sentimentality, it examines political and philosophical questions that come abruptly to the fore when the inhabitants of a modern city are starved and shot. This novel comes at an apt time, not just because it marks the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of the Siege of Sarajevo, but because it testifies to the ease and speed with which things can fall apart’ Kevin Sullivan, author of The Longest Winter