Black Butterflies
Priscilla Morris

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Published: 2022

Shortlisted for the 2023 Women's Prize for Fiction


Each night, nationalist gangs erect barricades, splitting the diverse city into ethnic enclaves; each morning, the residents – whether Muslim, Croat or Serb – push the makeshift barriers aside.

When violence finally spills over, Zora, an artist and teacher, sends her husband and elderly mother to safety with her daughter in England. Reluctant to believe that hostilities will last more than a handful of weeks, she stays behind while the city falls under siege. As the assault deepens and everything they love is laid to waste, black ashes floating over the rooftops, Zora and her friends are forced to rebuild themselves, over and over. Theirs is a breathtaking story of disintegration, resilience and hope.

“She loves Sarajevo. She knows all its alleys and courtyards, all its scents and sounds – the way the light falls at the end of their street in wintertime, the rattle of the tram, the blowsy roses that bloom each June in the mosque gardens, the plums and fogs in the autumn, the ponderous old men playing chess in the cafés, the mahalas – the old neighbourhoods – that radiate out from the centre like the spiral of a snail’s shell.”

Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris


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