Aleksandar Hemon

» Episode 5: Found in Translation

“The time and place are the only things I am certain of: March 2, 1908, Chicago.”

Aleksandar Hemon’s story is truly extraordinary. Born in Bosnia in 1964, he was visiting Chicago in 1992 and became stranded there when fighting in then-Yugoslavia broke out. Just a few short years later, he began writing in English, and soon after that he was having fiction published in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Paris Review. In 2000, his collection of stories, The Question of Bruno, was published to great acclaim (and, obviously, to great interest in his personal story).

In 2002, his follow-up, the novel Nowhere Man, was also very well-received. It followed Jozef Pronek, a character who had appeared in a previous story and whose life bore resemblance to Hemon’s: From Bosnia, he works in Chicago (including for Greenpeace, as Hemon had) while fighting goes on back home.

Hemon was awarded a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004. His new novel, The Lazarus Project, includes photographs throughout. In an interview with Bomb Magazine in 2000, Hemon said:

“There is this whole technology of storing records and memories outside of human beings—you know, computer memories, archives, official histories, museums, et cetera. You don’t need to remember, because there are mechanisms for remembering it for you. This way, past and history are removed from people’s lives so they can happily live and shop in the eternal present, as the past is stored away. Similarly, there is a technology of witnessing—media, images—whereby a person witnesses the record of the event rather than the event itself. This is possible because these technologies claim to be simply representing truth, so the event and the representation of the event are presumably equal. As an alternative to that, there are personal memories, unalienated memories that are continuously a part of people’s lives.”

See what others are saying:

Raising the Dead
By Cathleen Schine The New York Times, May 25, 2008

Anarchy and Semicolons
By Sam Anderson New York Magazine, May 4, 2008

'The Lazarus Project: A Novel' by Aleksandar Hemon
By Carol Anshaw Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2008

Other books by this author
book The Question Of Bruno
» Buy
book Nowhere Man
» Buy
Also in Episode 5: Found in Translation