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Christopher Tayler: Aleksandar Hemon

23 May 2013
The Book of My Lives 
by Aleksandar Hemon.
Picador, 224 pp., £20, March 2013, 978 1 4472 1090 0
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... My story is boring,’ the narrator says in Aleksandar Hemon’s story ‘The Conductor’, in Love and Obstacles (2009): ‘I was not in Sarajevo when the war began; I felt helplessness and guilt as I watched the destruction of my hometown on TV; I lived in America.’ He means it’s boring in comparison with the character he’s discussing, a Muslim poet from Sarajevo who stays put for the siege and later awes his hosts in Iowa City with week-long drinking binges and furious bouts of composition ...

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Daniel Soar: Aleksandar Hemon

6 July 2000
The Question of Bruno 
by Aleksandar Hemon.
Picador, 230 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 330 39347 2
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... but somehow causing more trouble than he’s aware of. Now we have an accordion player called Hemon, who features (twice) as one of the adoring crowd watching Franz Ferdinand’s progress through Sarajevo – and as Aleksandar Hemon’s possibly mythical, possibly fictional great-grandfather. The bit-part ...

Miracle in a Ring-Binder

Glyn Maxwell: Aleksandar Hemon

23 October 2008
The Lazarus Project 
by Aleksandar Hemon.
Picador, 294 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 330 45841 2
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... Vladimir Brik, the hero of Aleksandar Hemon’s third book, The Lazarus Project, had an elderly uncle called Mikhal back in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who liked to be shown family photograph albums and to get his young nephew to point out who everyone was: ‘And here is Aunt Olga, smiling … And that’s you … And there is me ...

The Hero Brush

Edmund Gordon: Colum McCann

12 September 2013
TransAtlantic 
by Colum McCann.
Bloomsbury, 298 pp., £18.99, May 2013, 978 1 4088 2937 0
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... Colum McCann has described Jim Crace as ‘quite simply, one of the great writers of our time’, Aleksandar Hemon as ‘quite frankly, the greatest writer of our generation’, and Nathan Englander as ‘quite simply, one of the very best we have’. He has called Emma Donoghue ‘one of the great literary ventriloquists’ and John Boyne ‘one of the great craftsmen in contemporary literature ...
20 February 2014
... Trinidadian trickster who is the book’s tragic hero; the work of the Bosnian-American writer, Aleksandar Hemon; Marilynne Robinson’s Home; some of the writing of Geoff Dyer; the stories of Nam Le, a Vietnamese-born Australian; the fiction and essays of the Indian novelist Amit Chaudhuri.The ‘great movement of peoples that was to take place in the ...

Such Genteel Flaming!

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Boat Rocker’

12 July 2017
The Boat Rocker 
by Ha Jin.
Pantheon, 222 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 0 307 91162 9
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... and even Nabokov explored a stylised vernacular relatively rarely. (Among current practitioners, Aleksandar Hemon – Sarajevo-born, Chicago-based – shows what can still be done.) The passages in The Boat Rocker where Danlin preens himself on his superior command of idiom are especially awkward: Haili ‘could toss out expressions like “I’ll be ...

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