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Nowhere Manby Aleksandar Hemon
"Now here's reason to get excited: a true work of art that's as vast and mysterious as life itself. Hemon, in just two books, and in just two years (if you haven't read The Question of Bruno, do), has quickly become essential in the way that, say, Nabokov is essential....This tender, devastating book is evidence indeed that Hemon is a writer of rare artistry and depth." Adrienne Miller, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
Read an exclusive essay from Aleksandar Hemon: The Question of Influences
A native of Sarajevo, where he spends his adolescence trying to become Bosnias answer to John Lennon, Jozef Pronek comes to the United States in 1992—just in time to watch war break out in his country, but too early to be a genuine refugee. Indeed, Jozefs typical answer to inquiries about his origins and ethnicity is, “I am complicated.”
And so he proves to be—not just to himself, but to the revolving series of shadowy but insightful narrators who chart his progress from Sarajevo to Chicago; from a hilarious encounter with the first President Bush to a somewhat more grave one with a heavily armed Serb whom he has been hired to serve with court papers. Moving, disquieting, and exhilarating in its virtuosity, Nowhere Man is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a magnetic young man stranded in America by the war in Bosnia.
"There is no escaping the invocations of Nabokov. In the snap of its storytelling and the half-brutal, half-brotherly hue of its tales of exile, Nowhere Man measures up to the early work of the master. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly
"Hemon can't write a boring sentence....Nowhere Man succeeds more often than it fails and will very likely serve as a springboard for even greater feats of the imagination from Aleksandar Hemon." Gary Shteyngart, The New York Times Book Review
"A charmingly discombobulated take on life and language....Hemon makes ordinary occurrences read like psychic disturbances." The Village Voice
"[A] young wrier, whose extraordinarily original eye takes what might have seemed like well-trod American ground and transforms it into an interior landscape all his own....
"An unusual structure...offers distinctive literary pleasures in this genuinely original first novel....A wry, touching chronicle of the misadventures of a stranger in several strange lands. Don't miss it." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]cutely self-aware and tender....Pronek's constantly reconfiguring life makes the novel a wild, twisty read, and Hemon's inimitable voice and the wry urgency of his storytelling should cement his reputation as a talented young writer." Publishers Weekly
"Hemon, who possesses a diabolical sense of humor and a wickedly visceral sensibility...considers the precariousness of existence, the continual revision of identity and dreams that immigrant life demands, and the ever-present shadow of death." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Hemon delivers a searing, mordantly funny novel....The angst-ridden, horny, adolescent Balkan he depicts is deeply human, totally irresistible and often hilarious, and by turns culturally specific and universal." San Francisco Chronicle
"Hemon's fractured story will haunt you long after you want it to, as you slowly realize that just because the last sentence ended with a period, all that was said before continues." Chicago Sun-Times
"Nowhere Man is no 'ordinary' book....The merit of Nowhere Man rests on far more than literary stunts. It's a study of the human condition today." Carolyn See, The Washington Post
"This is a downbeat, but also funny book, soaked in the mood that Bosnians call 'sevdah,' 'a feeling of pleasant soul pain, when you are at peace with your woeful life, which allows you to enjoy this very moment with abandon.' It's decidely modern, too, more ironic than Romantic....Jozef's story — the Eastern European teenager's painfully unhip efforts at hipness and then the immigrant's hilarious and wretched view of American society, with a slow magma of rage and terror roiling deep below — can stand on its own. And then there's Hemon's writing, the way he wrenches English words into previously unknown yet alarmingly fitting configurations....Reading him is like watching a documentary about someone you know intimately and witnessing that person transformed by the attention into something rich and strange — only with Hemon it's the humble texture of the everyday life that's transfigured by his scrutiny. You don't realize how much you cherish it until it's lost, or perhaps until someone who's lost it makes you understand just how dear it really is." Laura Miller, Salon.com
"What a writer. And what a book. He can capture the moment when the thorn enters the skin." Colum McCann, author of Dancer
"Aleksandar Hemon is a striking new voice in fiction." Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club
About the Author
Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Question of Bruno, which appeared on Best Books of 2000 lists nationwide, won several literary awards, and was published in eighteen countries. Born in Sarajevo, Hemon arrived in Chicago in 1992, began writing in English in 1995, and now his work appears regularly in The New Yorker, Esquire, Granta, Paris Review, and Best American Short Stories.
From the Hardcover edition.
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