‘Omer Pasha Latas’ by Ivo Andric

Natalia Holtzman at The Quarterly Conversation:

Andrić is particularly remarkable for his psychological acuity. Consider the knot of complexity that is Omer Pasha: born Mićo Latas, he’d been a brilliant boy in a village too small to contain his ambitions. He was bored by his parents and the provincial people around him. He managed to acquire a scholarship to military school—Austrian, not Turkish—but, just as he is ready to graduate, he receives word that his father, a minor officer, “a weak man…a small, overlooked man,” has been indicted for misuse of state funds. The stigma will prevent Mićo from achieving any career at all. This is when he takes off for Istanbul to scrape together an entirely new life.

When he returns, he has a new name, a new religion, and an army trailing in his wake. But there isn’t a soul in Sarajevo who doesn’t know of the pasha’s conversion.

more here.