I just got back from a trip to the Balkans in a group of 6 Palestinian and 6 Jewish students. While there, we studied the wars of Yugoslav succession in the 1990s alongside the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.There is a lot to say about it, and it is difficult to start. Towards the end of the trip, while we were in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Sarajevo, Srebrenica, and Mostar), I read Sasa Stanisic's book How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone. Stanisic and his family fled Visegrad during the war, and he published the book in Germany, where he now lives.Amid intense discussions about Palestine and Israel, there were a lot of things in the book that I missed, in part because of the novel's narrative convolutions and in part because of the many other places I found my head. But especially in the middle parts it was beautiful, confusing in the way I like and full and so rooted in the places I was walking. And while it spoke directly to the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, it also spoke to the other conflict we were studying. One piece of this:"He says the town is full of Serbian refugees. They're living in the school, or else they've simply taken over the empty buildings and the apartments of the Bosniaks, the Bosnian Muslims, who were driven out. And maybe those Bosniaks are living in Serbian apartments now. In the end no one will be where they were before."We heard this sense of displacement everywhere we went, from speakers, and from each other. I copied this quotation down from the book on the airplane home and threw it in paper-airplane form at my friend, a Palestinian-American and asked him to read it and tell me what he thought. I do not remember exactly what he said, but I remember the feeling that he was less willing to accept the last sentence than some of the Jewish participants had been."In the end no one will be where they were before."