Ajla Dizdarević is a Bosnian American who grew up in Waterloo, Iowa. Her writing concerns itself with the Balkan experience and post-war diaspora life. A sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in English and creative writing, she has won the Iowa Chapbook Prize and the David Hamilton Undergraduate Creative Writing Prize. She is also a recipient of the Iowa Scholarship for the Arts from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. She hopes to share underrepresented narratives not only through her own work but also through others' writing with her forthcoming Slavic diaspora magazine, Gastarbajter.
“My mother used to soak my socks in potent brandy, making sure they were drenched before pulling them over my cold feet, my frozen toes untouched by the fever setting fire to the rest of my body. Even through my stuffed nose, I could smell the strong, fruity rakija working to cool me down. “Better than Tylenol,” my mother would say knowingly before recorking the bottle and hiding it away in the basement. Years later, I’d creep downstairs barefoot, stopping in front of the shelf displaying my parents’ alcohol, face to face with a bottle of Bosnian medicine. The taste of it was atrocious, burning my throat the way the fever had years ago. But still, I drank.
They say when immigrants come to America, language is the first thing to go, food and drink being the last. Assimilate, assimilate, but let the children be real Bosnians by letting them drink. Let them have at least that.”