Monday, November 7, 2011

Zlata’s Diary – A Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filipovic




  • Audiotape: 2 tapes Abridged 3hrs listening
  • Genre : Biography/Autobiography
  • Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
  • Source: From a selection I have languishing on shelves.
  • Read By : Dorota Puzio


Reviewing an Audiobook here is a recent  departure for me, as this is just the second time I have done so. I recently discovered a collection of approximately twenty audio books that we have moved from house to house for years. It is time that most of them were moved on as tapes are rather out dated, although I might keep the classics. My first audio book review was back in April and I was planning to review about one a month. So much for good intentions, somehow the plan never materialised until the other day when I came across this copy that I had originally purchased for our younger daughter in 1995.  Never a great fan of reading, unless we read to her, we did manage to get her into the habit of listening to tapes. Thankfully it worked and although she might not have read them herself, she has a reasonable knowledge of many children’s classics either from us reading to her, or listening to tapes.

She was eleven years old herself, the same age as Zlata, when Zlata’s Diary was originally published and it was an excellent way to introduce to her the effects of war on children.

At the beginning of 1992 Zlata Filipovic was living in Sarajevo, the normal everyday life of a young girl, school, holidays and time with friends were uppermost in her thoughts. She did mention the war in her diary but at first it was just a distant threat. Until suddenly that April war broke out in Sarajevo and her main concern became survival! It was dangerous living in the city as snipers were active there. Inevitably the war meant hardships for her family and they had to adapt to living without the things we all take for granted especially food and not being able to move around outside safely! There was always the constant fear of death in the air never knowing if family and friends would survive the atrocities. In writing this diary I felt that Zlata shows amazing fortitude for one so young and learning about the war through her perspective is a moving experience. As she does not fully understand the politics behind this war she tends to have more to say about how the war affects her life, rather than about the culture clash which is at the root of the troubles.

The diary does end rather abruptly which I felt was a shame when Zlata and her family are moved to safety in France, because of the publicity her diary attracted!

An insightful read for adults and children alike.

Author photograph.

Zlata Filipovic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1980. At the age of ten, she started keeping a diary, which, when conflict began in the former Yugoslavia, became a record of the war and survival in her city. Zlata’s Diary was published first in France in 1993 and was an instant international bestseller. It has since been translated into thirty-six languages and is required reading in many schools around the world.

She holds a B.A. in Human Sciences from Oxford University and an MPhil in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. She has spoken extensively at schools and universities around the world and has worked on many occasions with organizations such as the Anne Frank House, the United Nations, and UNICEF. She is also a three-time member of the UNESCO Jury for Children’s and Young People’s Literature Prize for Tolerance.

Her written work includes contributions to several books, radio programs and newspapers, including a foreword for The Freedom Writers Diary(Doubleday, 1997) and the English translation of Milosevic: The People’s Tyrant (I.B. Tauris, 2004), for which she has also written a foreword. More recently, she co-edited Stolen Voices: Young People’s War Diaries from WWI to Iraq (Penguin, 2006).

She recently worked within the UN Children and Armed Conflict Division in New York under Olara Otunnu and is collaborating with Amnesty International USA on developing human rights education material based around her most recent book, Stolen Voices.

Zlata now serves on the executive committee of Amnesty International Ireland and is currently making documentary films.

For a visual insight into the atrocities in Sarajevo please take a five minutes to watch this video.

Uploaded by Freeweezy6290 on Mar 8, 2011

For more background I also recommend reading an excellent interview with Zlata Filipovic published in April 2011  Starting A New Life in Ireland –   on the  globalcitydublin blog.

Author biography and photography is taken from The Penguin Speakers Bureau

Other sources of information used in this post were:-

Zlata Filipovic - Wikipedia

Wikipedia - Zlata's Diary

Zlata Filipovic - YouTube


  1. I thought this one was really interesting. It's so much like the Diary of Anne Frank, but without the tragic ending. There's something about hearing about atrocities from the point of view of a preteen that's really powerful.

  2. Missed you Lindy. Will surely check the video.
    Thanks for the review

  3. Melissa@ I agree it is very powerful and I think should be read by all youngsters!

    Divenita@ Thankyou, I hope you find the video informative.

  4. What a fabulous way to get your daughter to sharey your love of books.

    I haven't listened to an audio book for a while, but will have to dust that iPod off and get back to it.

  5. This looks like a "must-read", I'll keep an eye out for it. I always find video clips like that one very moving!

    PS can't seem to locate your review of Facing 50 With Humour, I did want to check it out.

  6. This book sounds fascinating - thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. This sounds really interesting... and something I'd enjoy. Thanks, LindyLou!

  8. An excellent review LindyLou. Both the author and the book sound extremely interesting. I am seriously tempted to read this too. Thank you :)

  9. That's a great review. I absolutely love books that deal with war experiences...the courage of the human spirit...and this looks all the more fascinating because of the point of you. A great recommendation- thank you!


  10. Hi Linda, Carol has sorted out my confusion over Facing 50 With Humour and Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines ... all good :))

  11. Yay! you are back. Anne Frank's diary is one of my all time favorites.I have a feeling I'll like this too.

  12. History and Women@ I had hoped she would eventually love reading but no, but at least she has enjoyed many books in audio format.
    Teddyree@ Sorry I did not get back to you qick enough, but glad Carol sorted out your misunderstanding. Do let me know what you think of both her book and this one if you get to read them.
    Talli@ If you have time worth reading.
    Facing50@ As I said to Talli worth while if you have the time. I know how busy you authors are.
    Sarah@ Great to hear from you, it is a very insightful read.
    Bhargavi@ Thanks for the welcome back and I hope you do get an opportunity to read this.

  13. Susan@ It is a pleasure to share, sorry I did not respond to you before now.


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