The Book of My Lives
By Aleksandar Hemon
(Picador, Paperback, 9781250043542, 256pp.)
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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A Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award
Aleksandar Hemon’s lives begin in Sarajevo, where boyhood is consumed by street soccer and sibling rivalry, and a young man’s life is about American music, bad poetry, and slightly better journalism. At the age of twenty-seven, Hemon journeyed to Chicago—a trip that would mark the beginning of another life, this time in the United States. There, he watched from afar as war broke out in Bosnia, his parents and sister fleeing, and Hemon himself unable to return.
Yet this, his first book of nonfiction, is much more than a memoir of these experiences. At once a love song to two cities and a paean to the bonds of family, The Book of My Lives is a singular work of passion, built on fierce intelligence, unspeakable tragedies, and sharp insight. Like the best narratives, it is a book that will leave you a different reader when you finish—and a different person, with a new way of looking at the world.
Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Question of Bruno, Nowhere Man, The Lazarus Project, and Love and Obstacles. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation, the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature, the PEN/W. G. Sebald Award, and, most recently, a 2012 USA Fellowship. He lives in Chicago.
Celebrated novelist Aleksandar Hemon's first nonfiction book is a memoir of his early life in Sarajevo, his flight and acclimation to Chicago after the Bosnian War broke out, and the family tragedy that hit years after he made his new home in the U.S. More at NPR.org
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“The Book of My Lives is written with the full force of humanity. It will make you think, laugh, cry, and remember yourself. If you’ve never read Aleksandar Hemon, prepare to have your worldview deepened.”—Jonathan Safran Foer
“Incandescent. When your eyes close, the power of Aleksandar Hemon’s colossal talent remains.”—Junot Díaz
“Aleksandar Hemon is, quite frankly, the greatest writer of our generation. His literature is deep, agile, funny, graceful, searing, angry, raw, questioning. The Book of My Lives is worth it simply for the dedication: ‘For Isabel, forever breathing on my chest.’ He writes it, and so she breathes on ours too. Such is the function of storytelling: to get to the essence of that which might eventually break our hearts. This is a book—like all of Aleksandar Hemon’s books—that is an aria for our times. I will cherish it.”—Colum McCann
“Aleksandar Hemon’s work crackles with so much humor and irony, so much compassion and humanity, that The Book of My Lives’s true calling almost goes by unnoticed: it is, without doubt, the most necessary, intimate, and heartbreaking portrait of a world lost to one of history’s darkest conflicts.”—Téa Obreht
“I’m not quite sure Aleksandar Hemon counts as an American writer, but he is one of my favorite American writers. Before The Book of My Lives, I never really thought of him as a nonfiction person, but this new book—a memoir in essays—has some of his best writing. When Hemon’s work is funny, it can make you laugh in spite of everything, and when it is sad, it’s hard to stand up afterward.”—John Jeremiah Sullivan
“At once unimaginable and unforgettable.”—Time
“An extraordinary story.”—The New Yorker
“As crowded as the pool of contemporary writers wrestling with the American experience has become...no discussion is complete without Aleksandar Hemon.”—Chicago Tribune