Two books in one in a flip dos-à-dos format: The story of Aleksandar Hemon’s parents’ immigration from Sarajevo to Canada and a book of short memories of the author’s family, friends, and childhood in Sarajevo
In My Parents
, Aleksandar Hemon tells the story of his parents’ immigration from Bosnia to Canada—of the lives that were upended in the Siege of Sarajevo and the new lives his parents were forced to build. As ever with his work, he portrays both the perfect, intimate details (his mother’s lonely upbringing, his father’s fanatical beekeeping) and a sweeping, heartbreaking history of his native country, from the rule of Otto von Bismarck to the massacres that shocked the world. It is a story full of many Hemons, of course—his parents, sister, uncles, cousins—and also of German occupying forces, Yugoslav communist revolutionary partisans, royalist Serb collaborators, and a few befuddled Canadians.My Parents
is Hemon at his very best, grounded in stories he has heard and told many times—lovingly polished in the telling, but still he makes them exhilarating and fresh, summoning unexpected, laugh-out-loud humor in the midst of the saddest stories, and then unsparingly smashing your heart to bits with a shocking, beautiful metaphor and a perfectly precise observation. In the words of Colum McCann, “Aleksandar Hemon is, quite frankly, the greatest writer of our generation.” And Hemon has never been better than in My Parents
. And the moment has never been more ready for—the world never more in need of—his voice.This Does Not Belong to You
is the exhilarating, freewheeling, unabashedly personal companion to My Parents
. It stands on its own, of course, a perfect shot of Hemon at his most dazzling and untempered, a series of beautifully distilled memories and observations and explosive, hilarious, heartbreaking miniatures. But it is also the perfect complement to a major work from a major writer who is about to become unignorable.
Hemon was introduced to the literary world with a book of short stories, The Question of Bruno
, that was defined as much by an aching nostalgia for a lost Sarajevo childhood as by his brain-sizzling ability to make the English language feel new again. The New York Times
declared the book the arrival of “an extraordinary writer: one who seems not just gifted but necessary.” More than anything he has written since, This Does Not Belong to You
recalls that introduction—it thrills, it dazzles, it makes you sit back in awe and rock forward in wonder; it makes you cry so hard you’re laughing, laugh so hard you’re crying, reminds you why you love a writer who’s just so, so good at what he does.