September 9, 1964 |
Sarajevo, SFR Yugoslavia
|Occupation||Short story writer, novelist and columnist|
|Alma mater||University of Sarajevo, Northwestern University|
|Notable work(s)||The Lazarus Project (2008)|
Aleksandar Hemon (born September 9, 1964) is a Bosnian American fiction writer, essayist, and critic. He is the winner of a MacArthur Foundation grant. He has written five books: The Book of My Lives (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013); Love and Obstacles: Stories (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009); The Lazarus Project: A Novel (New York: Riverhead Books, 2008), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Awards, and was named as a New York Times Notable Book and New York magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year; Nowhere Man (New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2002), also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Question of Bruno: Stories (New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2000). He frequently publishes in The New Yorker, and has also written for Esquire, The Paris Review, the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, and the Sarajevo magazine BH Dani.
Hemon was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, then Yugoslavia, to a father of partial Ukrainian and Bosnian descent and a Bosnian mother. Hemon's great-grandfather, Teodor Hemon, came to Bosnia from Western Ukraine prior to World War I, when both countries were a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Since 1992 he has lived in the United States, where he found himself as a tourist and became stranded at the outbreak of the war in Bosnia. In the U.S. he worked as a Greenpeace canvasser, sandwich assembly-line worker, bike messenger, graduate student in English literature, bookstore salesperson, and ESL teacher.
He published his first story in English, "The Life and Work of Alphonse Kauders" in Triquarterly in 1995, followed "The Sorge Spy Ring," also in Triquarterly in 1996 and "Islands" in Ploughshares in 1998, and eventually "Blind Jozef Pronek" in The New Yorker in 1999. His work also eventually appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. Hemon also has a bi-weekly column, written and published in Bosnian, called "Hemonwood" in the Sarajevo-based magazine, BH Dani (BH Days).
Hemon lives with his second wife, Teri Boyd, and their daughters Ella and Esther in Chicago. The couple's second child, 1-year-old daughter Isabel, died of complications associated with a brain tumor in November 2010. Hemon published an essay, "The Aquarium," about Isabel's death in the June 13/20, 2011 issue of The New Yorker.
In 2000 Hemon published his first book, The Question of Bruno, which included short stories and a novella, to overwhelmingly positive reviews.
His second book, Nowhere Man, followed in 2002. Variously referred to as a novel and as a collection of linked stories, Nowhere Man concerns Jozef Pronek, a character who earlier appeared in one of the stories in The Question of Bruno. It was a finalist for the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award.
In May 2008, Hemon released The Lazarus Project, which featured photographs by Hemon's childhood friend, photographer Velibor Božović. The novel was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award.
In May 2009, Hemon released a collection of stories, Love and Obstacles, which were largely written at the same time as he wrote The Lazarus Project.
Hemon's first nonfiction book The Book of My Lives was released in 2013.
- Short fiction
- "The Liar", collected in The Book of Other People (Zadie Smith, editor)
- "Love and obstacles". The New Yorker 81 (38). November 28, 2005. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
- "The noble truths of suffering". The New Yorker 84 (29). September 22, 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
- "A shining monument of loss". Granta 103: 29–31. Autumn 2008. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
- "If God existed, He'd be a solid midfielder". Granta 108. Autumn 2009.
As an accomplished fiction writer who learned English as an adult, Hemon has some similarities to Joseph Conrad, which he acknowledges through allusion in The Question of Bruno, though he is most frequently compared to Vladimir Nabokov. All of his stories deal in some way with the Yugoslav wars, Bosnia, or Chicago, but they vary substantially in genre.
Awards and honors
- 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award (Autobiography) shortlist for The Book of My Lives
- 2012 United States Artists Fellow award.
- 2012 National Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism, for "The Aquarium"
- 2011 PEN/W.G. Sebald Award
- 2009 National Magazine Award for Fiction, for The New Yorker
- 2009 St. Francis College Literary Prize
- 2008 National Book Award, finalist, for The Lazarus Project
- 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award, finalist, for The Lazarus Project
- 2004 MacArthur Fellows Program from the MacArthur Foundation
- 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship
- 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award, finalist, for Nowhere Man
- 2001 John C. Zacharis First Book Award, for Ploughshares
- Short story collections
- 2000 The Question of Bruno
- 2009 Love and Obstacles
- 2013 The Book of My Lives
- 2010 Best European Fiction 2010
- 2010 Best European Fiction 2011
- 2011 Best European Fiction 2012
- 2012 Best European Fiction 2013
- "Aleksandar Hemon u Leksikonu" (in Croatian). August 31, 2007. Archived from the original on December 17, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
- 17th Prague Writer's Festival page: "Aleksandar Hemon,"[dead link]
- [dead link]
- "2008 National Book Awards Winners and Finalists, The National Book Foundation". Nationalbook.org. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- New York Times story: "Aleksandar Hemon's Twice-Told Tales: Bosnian, Displaced in America," 
- Kirsten Reach (January 14, 2014). "NBCC finalists announced". Melville House Publishing. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- Admin (January 14, 2014). "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. Retrieved January 14, 2014.
- United States Artists Official Website
- "American Society of Magazine Editors – National Magazine Awards 2012 Finalists Announced". Magazine.org. April 3, 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- Stacey Mickelbart (August 11, 2011). "The 2011 PEN Honorees in The New Yorker". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- Official website
- Hemon's page on U.S. publisher's website Riverhead Books
- Hemon, Aleksandar. "The Noble Truths of Suffering" National Magazine Award-winning New Yorker story
- Hemon, Aleksandar "Genocide’s Epic Hero" New York Times Op-Ed on Radovan Karadžić
- Hemon, Aleksandar "Rationed"
- Portrait By Graphic Journalism Graphic Journalism
- "National Subjects" in Guernica, January 2012