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Starred Review. Bosnian-born Hemon (The Lazarus Project) again beautifully twists the language in this collection of eight powerful and disquieting stories. The 1992 Bosnian war colors in the background of all the tales, whose settings range from Africa to Chicago and Sarajevo. Arranged chronologically, all but one feature a Hemon-like narrator named Bogdan, first met as a surly teenager during his diplomat father's assignment in Zaire, where he's happily corrupted by a degenerate American espionage agent. In each successive story, Bogdan recalls the surreal and salient experiences of his life: his youth with his ironically depicted family; his early determination to be a poet; his accidental sojourn in America, where he was caught after the commencement of hostilities in Bosnia; and his return to a cesspool of insignificant, drizzly suffering, where he has a transformative night interviewing a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer. Hemon arranges words like gems in a necklace. A necktie is stretched across the chair seat, like a severed tendon; a car is stickered with someone else's thought; a character's teeth are like organ pipes. Writing with steely control and an antic eye, Hemon has assembled another extraordinary work. (May)
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"Steeped ... in male ego [and] sexuality" (Houston Chronicle), Hemon's wry, robust, and entertaining stories bring to light the immigrant's hunger for identity -- caught between two worlds but truly belonging to neither -- and the writer's hunger for validation. Poised between two worlds himself, Hemon's vantage point and marvelous flair for the English language yield deliciously sardonic cultural observations and ask insightful questions about the meaning of family and home. Critics were especially moved by his portrait of his eccentric father and the growing chasm between father and son. Though the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel considered Hemon's subject matter trite and uninspired, most critics, in spite of a few complaints -- including some awkward language, a sporadic anti-American undercurrent, and forced connections among stories -- were pleased by Hemon's return to familiar terrain.See all Editorial Reviews
Although I read most of these stories when they were published in "The New Yorker" magazine, reading them again collected together made me realize the breath, depth and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by tony giffone
The most amazing thing to me is Hemon's flexibility in English. It's not only that he has a huge vocabulary, but it's, also, that he's completely at home with idiomatic English or... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Jean Gross
Wonderful writing, clear, powerful, emotional. Speaks of the fears, challenges and life's unexpected stories. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Merima
Hemon at his best. His talent is maturing, and these stories, written while he was writing Lazarus Project, are less experimental and more moving than his earlier collection, a... Read morePublished on June 19, 2013 by John Dayton
This series of short stories is a little less interesting than those in his previous books. However, the last story is autobiographical in a very unusual and surprising way. Read morePublished on March 13, 2013 by Francisco de Agueda
I bought this book several years ago and finally decided to read it. However, thirty pages in and my attention just wouldn't stick. Read morePublished on December 29, 2012 by Katelyn Collison
This was a required summer reading book for school. Upon delivery I was impressed by the condition the book arrived in and upon reading it i was impressed by the authors talents in... Read morePublished on August 16, 2012 by Borwits
Emigration is hardest when it's involuntary and when you cannot return to your country of origin.
Alexandar Hemon, a native of Bosnia and now a Chicagoan, has based his... Read more
Alksandar Hemon is a Bosnian-American writer who immigrated to the United States at the beginning of the war in his homeland. Read morePublished on October 16, 2011 by Dr. Bojan Tunguz