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Holland Park Press

King of Tuzla

Arnold Jansen op de Haar

A truly original coming-of-age story, but who is the king of Tuzla?

Sample Passages

First time in Tuzla
The Yugoslav
My Father
July 1995 - The fall of Srebrenica
Old baker Rácz

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Brochure (PDF)


Real war is different. Real war quite literally smells different from peace. All of a sudden Tijmen finds himself in a proper war as part of the UN in Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia, the scene of the last war in Europe. This was something he was trained for and something he should relish.
With his colleagues, Lex and Eddy, he experiences a different face of life. For Eddy war is a game and according to Lex every game is a war. For Tijmen it is a symptom of a society and organisation he no longer wants to belong to.
We learn more about Tijmen, about his quest for love and choice of a military career, which is surprising to his family.  This is linked to the war of his father.
His hilarious adventures at the military academy make us smile. Soon though it becomes clear that Tijmen has a truly original way at looking at what goes on around him. Seeing things this sharply does not make for an easy life.
Hence King of Tuzla does not describe military battles or discuss strategies but instead it shows how war affects ordinary people, soldiers and civilians.
Interspersed with Tijmen’s story about finding his own identity within a strict military environment, we are shown vivid snippets of the life of ordinary people in the war zone.
Civil servant Galib Prolaz, a self proclaimed Yugoslavian citizen, who after the Muslims were driven away, had no alternative but to become a farmer.
The beautiful Lucia Mezga, who behind the bar of ‘Holland House’, dreams that officers are queuing up to marry her.
Old Jewish baker, Pista Rácz, who stays put, following the rabbi who refuses to flee, and who by serving everyone, including his enemies, pays with his life.
Tijmen, ever the professional soldier, makes his war a success, and he brings all his men back. Twice he has to build a base from scratch, in Tuzla and in “Sapna Thumb”. But there on the first base at least he is the King of Tuzla.
More and more disappointed with his colleagues, society and even himself there are some interesting revelations, especially when he speaks to his friend David, the one he tells so much.
Do Tijmen’s ambitions survive this war and does he come to terms with how he has changed?
Read King of Tuzla to get the answers and become gripped by the story.
£12.99 - €15.00 - $18.00
You can buy King of Tuzla now by clicking on the 'Buy this book' button on this page. Your card will be debited in your local currency.
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ISBN: 978-1-907320-06-4
Number of pages: 210
Price: £12.99

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What was said about King of Tuzla

About the English edition

'If you want proof that literature has the power to change lives then this illustrates it on every level.' - Simon Quicke on his blog inside books
'The novel is worth reading for these cameos alone'

'with reflection the novel ends with more gravitas than a thousand cheap plot twists could give you' - Watching the Coast blog

King of Tuzla is a thinly-fictionalised account of the Bosnian War, infused with pathos and wit and the blackest of comedy.’

‘It is this empathy  for the victims, as well as the witnesses, that makes King of Tuzla both a brutally honest coming-of-age novel and an important addition to the literature of modern war.’ - BookTrust Translated Fiction

King of Tuzla is a thought-provoking story about the conflict in Bosnia. The author uses beautiful prose to create a vivid feeling of the time and place, and an intense emotional narrative about the realities of war.’ - Bookish Magpie

‘In King of Tuzla Arnold Jansen op de Haar has successfully used fiction to tell a greater truth.’ - Emma Lee's Blog
King of Tuzla tells the story of service in the Balkans vividly, as only a soldier who served there can relay. The book is a must for the library of any military enthusiast or historian. - Stephen Phillips Blog
‘The book is a cracking read and I flew through it in a couple of days. Arnold Jansen op de Haar has obviously written this book from the heart...’
‘What Arnold has wonderfully done is included little stories from the locals about their lives and the effect the wars have had on them.’ - Winstonsdad’s Blog

‘This book should appeal to the mainstream reader, but particularly to those interested in the Balkans as well as those who, like me, have a taste for the unusual.’ - Adam Yamey on goodreads

‘A book which hits us with the reality of war’
‘Well written, the narrative  has quite eloquent qualities and makes it very easy to picture the characters and the war-ravaged former Yugoslavia.’ - Contrary Life
‘The characterisation of Tijmen and his fellow officers is effective. Tijmen himself is an intriguing character...’
‘There are ... some lovely images and gorgeous rhythms ... this poignant description of Tijmen’s flat: "Eight years in the same flat, where time’s mechanism had jammed. No-one had been loved there."’ - Whispering Gums Blog
Also promoted on Novel Suggestions.
About the Dutch edition
‘A great addition to Dutch literature.’ – Hans Warren in several regional newspapers
‘A great debut.’ – Trouw (main quality Dutch newspaper)

Background information

Alpha King's Company in action
Tuzla Today & the Royal Military Academy