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Nowhere Man Paperback – January 6, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Hemon, a Sarajevo native who didn't begin writing in English until 1995, achieves immense power by keeping his sentence structure simple, acutely observing the minutiae of Jozef's life, meticulously selecting images which are both visually and emotionally memorable, then firing them at us in a staccato series of flashes. Just before a job interview, for example, Jozef recalls smashing cardboard boxes, a cat eating the head of a mouse, the Bosnian war as seen on TV, and a passing driver pointing a finger at him and pretending to shoot. Boiling eggs are seen as "iris-less eyes," and he has "butterflies in [his] stomach, ripping off one another's wings." With irony and dark humor, he recalls a woman calling out to her lost dog, "Lucky Boy," while a young ESL teacher addresses her class as "you guys" and conducts lessons about Siamese twins.
Jozef is a character with whom most readers will empathize, and as we view his life at home and abroad, we root for his success at the same time that we fear his failure.Read more ›
However, this novel is so replete with brilliant observations ("crackling with acuity"), expressed in stunningly novel and creative ways that I found it compulsively readable; in fact, for pure pleasure, this is the best read I've experienced in years. If I were a collector of literary 1st editions, I would be buying up Hemon's oeuvre, for his works--despite their deficiencies--are destined to be among the few that survive our times.
Sometimes in The Question of Bruno, maybe Hemon was showing off a little, to dazzling effect but more for the sake of doing it than for the sake of the book itself. That doesn't happen in Nowhere Man, probably because it's all about the lovable Pronek, in the way that Catcher in the Rye is all about keeping you involved with Holden Caulfield. That's a strange comparison and probably wildly inaccurate -- Pronek doesn't feel like a kid at all (he's too world-wise and weary for his own good), and it's so absurd to describe this book as a coming-of-age story it didn't even occur to me until right now (a more accurate comparison might be to Toru Okada of Haruki Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, who's supposedly all grown-up by the time we meet him) -- but in some ways I felt about Pronek the way I felt about Caulfield.Read more ›
"There was a bench nobody was sitting on, encrusted with blotches. I looked up, and on a steel beam high up above perched a jury of pigeons, cooing peevishly. They bloated and deflated, blinking down on us, effortlessly releasing feces. When I was a kid, I thought that snow came from God sh_tt_ing upon us. The Touhy bus arrived, and we lined up at the bus door. I experienced an intense sneeze of happiness, simply because I had managed not to lose my transfer."
Hemon, like the other writers named above, writes very funny prose to tell very sad stories of displacement and loss. In "Nowhere Man", one of his narrators tells about learning songs to sing a late night student parties, in hopes of creating a mood for seductions. The songs are all about "`sevdah' -- a feeling of pleasant soul pain, when you are at peace with your woeful life, which allows you to enjoy this very moment with abandon." Other cultures and other languages have a similar word -- saudade in Portuguese, for instance -- but no other literature is so permeated with "sevdah" as that of the former Eastern European socialist satellites.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was ineptly written, and the plot goes nowhere. It has a promising set of lead-ins, but the author never finishes any of them. Read morePublished on May 28, 2013 by G. Bodmer
The author has a masterly command of the english langauge. Ideas expressed are usually very original and sometimes outright funny.Published on October 30, 2012 by Francisco de Agueda
Here's one of my everything-is-connected, one book leads to another kinda intro. I was told of Aleksandar Hemon's work by another writer, Valerie Laken, who praised his short... Read morePublished on May 31, 2011 by Timothy J. Bazzett
All I can say after reading NowhereMan is what the flying ****was that about? The story is horrifically overwritten. Read morePublished on April 23, 2009 by Lawrence R. Cirelli
Hemon has received wide praise. He may be the genius people say he is. I certainly hope so for his sake and for ours. Judging from this novel, I'd say he has a lot of talent. Read morePublished on October 21, 2008 by David Schweizer
The book is heavily bifurcated, and choppy. The story(s) are told by multiple narrators, over multiple time periods. Each chapter weaves a different thread. Read morePublished on August 31, 2008 by Prince
Unfortunately this book is a huge dissapointment. If the "Question of Bruno" had some freshness about it and it told tales from a curious world and always interesting (exotic) for... Read morePublished on January 10, 2008 by Tigran Haas
Intertwined lives, identity crisises, coincidence, fear, longing, isolation, confusion--not to mention wonder, amazement, rebirth as well as the liberation and ecstasy (and... Read morePublished on August 20, 2007 by Timothy Freeman