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Plots don’t stop

Leo Robson: ‘The World and All That It Holds’, 13 April 2023

The World and All That It Holds 
by Aleksandar Hemon.
Picador, 336 pp., £18.99, February, 978 0 330 51332 6
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... The title​ of Aleksandar Hemon’s new novel suggests a conflict of priorities: an impulse to totalise and a fondness for variety, a love of clarity paired with a penchant for clutter. The aspiring saga builder pauses, mid-set piece, to insist he’s actually a spry postmodernist. Only one of these authorial personae was evident in Hemon’s early work ...


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 ...


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 ...

On Not Going Home

James Wood, 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 ...

The Hero Brush

Edmund Gordon: Colum McCann, 12 September 2013

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 ...

I Wish I’d Never Had You

Jenny Turner: Janice Galloway, 9 October 2008

This Is Not about Me 
by Janice Galloway.
Granta, 341 pp., £16.99, September 2008, 978 1 84708 061 5
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... born.’ ‘I hate it beyond words. It’s a crisis of the imagination,’ the Bosnian novelist Aleksandar Hemon recently said of what he calls ‘the memoir craze’. Like Hemon, I get the feeling that more and more writers are turning to the genre as a quick-fix fudge between the discipline of fiction and the ...

Such Genteel Flaming!

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Boat Rocker’, 13 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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