Under Pressure is a novel in fragments - brutal and heart-wrenching stories from the frontline by Bosnian writer Faruk Šehić. This book secured his reputation as one of the greatest writers to emerge from the region in the post-war period. A war veteran and a poet, Šehić combines beauty and horror to seduce and surprise the reader. The book was the winner of the Zoro Verlag Prize, 2004, and it's publication has been funded by a super-successful Kickstarter campaign in October 2018.
Longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2020
'Šehić’s fine eye for detail serves to aestheticize atrocity without ever fetishizing it.. . Brilliant, insightful, poetic, and breathtaking"
Michael Tate. LA Review of Books
". . . a book of powerful semi- autobiographical vignettes, mostly (but not only) from the conict. The narrator and his comrades drink copiously, take drugs, have sex and loot if the opportunity arises. . . . As the narrator pops pills, throws punches and succumbs to post-traumatic stress, his heart skips “like a series of short bursts of machinegun re”— as does Mr Sehic’s writing."
"It does not matter how this book is read – as a story about war or humanity, a memoir of combat participants, or of those who were scared and desperate – it always terrifies. This feeling of despair one gets from reading Šehić does not come from the dispassionate accounts of those killed, but from the message it conveys. It is a message that sadly confirms the Latin proverb that “a man is a wolf to another man”.As painful as these words are, there are times when we need to be reminded about them."
Kinga Anna Gajda, New Eastern Europe
"Under Pressure composes itself in a post-traumatic key, with the narrator oscillating and careering between various psychic moods and linguistic registers.. . the narrator's language is basic and crude, but the inner thoughts we are allowed to access reveal a fertile mind full of wasted potential. Precise references to Dostoevsky and Sartre (not to mention Hendrix, Bowie and Nirvana) come to him naturally. Indeed, the narrator is not unlike Sartre's Roquentin or Dostoevsky's 'underground man' - an articulate individual almost entirely alienated from anything life-sustaining, someone unable to craft a coherent or stable identity."
Thomas W. Simpson, Times Literary Supplement
"Under Pressure is not for the fainthearted. As the main protagonist warns: “horror has an agent in every cell of my body.” It’s a bold work that never lets up and, like war, it’s gruelling, ragged and unbearably sad."
L:ucy Popescu, New Humanist
"Šehić literally describes the war through the gun sight of an AK-47.H is book is brutal, naturalistic, honest and uncompromising; his characters kill and get killed, they rob corpses and homes, they get drunk and get into fights, they parade in front of a mirror wearing a uniform ripped off a dead soldier . . . There’s drugs and alcohol in abundance, and they are – paradoxically – reason’s last line of defence. But more importantly, Šehić does not use that paradox to describe his characters, but rather the times they live in. Alcohol and drugs are the means of escape into a better, parallel reality, to escape into an illusion of life."
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