Red, White, and Balkan
“Unapproachable Light” by Dimiter Kenarov, in Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2010.
Picture a predominantly Muslim city where residents celebrate Thanksgiving and Old Glory flies above storefronts. Pipe dream? Not in Ferizaj, Kosovo, home of the largest American military installation in the Balkans. As Dimiter Kenarov, a doctoral student in English at the University of California, Berkeley, tells it, “To walk around Ferizaj is to move through a weird fantasy that never came true in the Middle East.”
Before the disintegration of Yugoslavia during the 1990s, Ferizaj was a small rural outpost that had grown around a train station built during the Ottoman era. (Eight thousand Christian Orthodox Serbs lived in the town. Now, one Serbian resident estimates they number just eight.) The vast majority of Ferizaj’s 165,000-odd inhabitants are Muslim Albanians.
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