Aleksandar Hemon Recommended

When: Wed., March 20, 7 p.m. 2013

In some ways, the 15 nonfiction pieces in Aleksandar Hemon's The Book of My Lives resemble the short stories in the author's 2009 collection Love and Obstacles: the two books share settings—Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia, and Chicago—and explore geographic and cultural dislocation. But where you had to tease the autobiographical elements out of the former volume, the essays here, some of which first appeared in the New Yorker, save you the trouble. In The Book of My Lives, Hemon's exploration of identity is rich with psychological undertones. He'll burrow into a psyche—often his own, but occasionally someone else's—then clamber out with an armful of longings, neuroses, and fears. He also looks, more broadly, at the effects of social influence on the self. "The Lives of Others" examines how, as Hemon and his childhood friends in Sarajevo grew older, their loyalty was refocused from the neighborhood clique to "an abstraction-based herd": the nation. In "The Lives of a Flaneur," which straddles Sarajevo and Chicago, the author urgently sets about familiarizing himself with his new hometown, where he moved in 1992 at the age of 28, living in Ukrainian Village before moving to Edgewater. The more that Serb militias pummel a besieged Sarajevo, the faster Hemon must make Chicago his own. Continue reading >>

Price: $15

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