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The Bone Whisperers

Two Women Scientists and their Work to Connect Lost Lives in Bosnia-Herzegovina

300 pages
Schaffner Press Inc

The 2022 recipient of the Jan Michalski Award for excellence in reporting on human rights issues by a European writer, The Bone Whisperers is an account of the author's reporting and involvement over the course of several years with those whose delicate and morally essential task it has been to exhume and identify the victims found in mass graves throughout the war-torn regions of the world, particularly in Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of the ongoing process over the past two decades, led by the International Commission on Missing Persons, to recover and identify the remains and reunite the victims with their families.

Tervonen follows two women in particular involved in this extremely important yet heart-wrenching work; one, Senem, who has pioneered a method to match DNA from bone samples, and the other Darija, who tries to obtain blood samples from the survivors and their families to find a genetic match to that of the victims.

Author Bio

Born in Senegal in 1973, Taina Tervonen is a Finnish journalist, filmmaker and author writing in French and currently based in Paris. Self-described as a "teller of true stories", she is the author of several books of non-fiction that deal with serious social topics. Her work, "The Country of the Disappeared" was the winner of the 2019 Louise Weiss Prize for European Journalism, and her film "Speaking with the Dead" was her first full-length feature documentary and a selection of the Cinéma du Réel festival in 2020. She is the recipient of the Jan Michalski Award in 2022 for this title, originally published as "Les Fossoyeuses" (Editions Marchialy) in 2021, which celebrates a work of excellence by a European writer that concerns human rights. Her most recent work, "Les Otages" will be published by Schaffner Press in 2025.

Sarah Robertson is an independent translator based in the UK, who has worked on a broad range of book projects from travel, to art and architecture. She lives in London.