The Fortress is one of the most significant and fascinating novels to come out of the former Yugoslavia. Published as Tvrđava in Serbian, it is the tenth and among the best-known novels by Mesa Selimovic (1910–1982). In the novel, Ahmet Shabo returns home to seventeenth-century Sarajevo from the war in Russia, numbed by the death in battle or suicide of nearly his entire military unit. In time he overcomes the anguish of war, only to find that he has emerged a reflective and contemplative man in a society that does not value, and will not tolerate, the subversive implications of these qualities.
Set in Bosnia in the late 1700s, the novel sometimes functions as an artful metaphor for the communist Yugoslavia of Selimovic's day. At other times, the author explores the nuances of Ottoman rule in the Balkans. Muslim Ahmet's sustaining marriage to a young Christian woman provides a multicultural tension that strongly resonates with contemporary readers and sensibilities.