Isak Samokovlija

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Isak Samokovilija
Isak Samokovlija, circa 1942
Born (1889-09-03)3 September 1889
Goražde, Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died 15 January 1955(1955-01-15) (aged 65)
Sarajevo, SR Bosnia and Herzegovina, SFR Yugoslavia
Occupation Writer, academic
Subject Jewish life in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Isak Samokovlija (3 September 1889 – 15 January 1955) was a prominent Bosnian Jewish writer. By profession he was a physician. His stories describe the life of the Bosnian Sephardic Jews.


Samokovlija was born into a Sephardi Jewish family in Goražde, Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time of the Austro-Hungarian occupation.[1]

After completing primary school Samokovlija went to Sarajevo, attended high school and relocated to Vienna, where he studied medicine.[2] Later he worked as a doctor in the towns Goražde and Fojnica (1921–25)[3] before beginning a regular job at Sarajevo's Koševo hospital in 1925.

At the beginning of the Second World War, he was a department head at the Koševo hospital. In April 1941 he was discharged from service as well as other Jews, but soon he was mobilized as a medical doctor fights against a typhus epidemic. It was not until 1945, he managed to escape Yugoslavia and hide until the country was liberated. After the end of World War II, he held various positions in the Bosnian and Yugoslav literary circles. From 1948 to 1951 he edited the magazine Brazda, and then, until his death he was an editor at the publishing company Svjetlost.

His first short story Rafina avlija was published in 1927 and two years later his first collection of stories, Od proljeća do proljeća, came out. Several of his stories were made into television films and his book Hanka was made into a film of the same name directed by Slavko Vorkapić in 1955. He did not live to see the Hanka film as he died aged 65 in January 1955. He was buried in an old Jewish cemetery on the slopes of Trebević mountain, near Sarajevo.[4]


  • Rafina avlija (1927, Rafo's Yard)
  • Od proljeća do proljeća (1929, From Spring to Spring)
  • Nosač Samuel, (1946, Samuel the Porter)
  • Solomunovo slovo, (1949, Solomun's Letter)
  • Hanka (Hanka)
  • Plava Jevrejka (The Blond Jewess)
  • On je lud (He is Crazy)
  • Fuzija (Fusion)
  • Tragom života (Following Life)
  • Đerdan (The Necklace)
  • Priča o radostima (A Story of Joy)

Further reading[edit]

Palavestra, Predrag (2000). Translated by E.D. Goy; Jasna Levinger-Goy. "Jewish Writers in Serbian Literature: Isak Samokovlija" (PDF). Journal of the North American Society for Serbian Studies. Bloomington, IN, USA: Slavica Publishers. 14 (1): 65–68. ISSN 0742-3330. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 


  1. ^ "(Ne)pročitani velikan naše književnosti". Slobodna Bosna. 24 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Isak Samokovlija - veliki bh. književnik i doktor". Radio Sarajevo. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Manifestacija 'Dani Isaka Samokovlije - Sunce nad Drinom'". Radio Sarajevo. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Sjećanje na Isaka Samokovliju, književnika i oca Nosača Samuela". Radio Sarajevo. 15 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2015.