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Aleksandar Hemon

Aleksandar Hemon (born September 9, 1964) is a Bosnian-American fiction writer, essayist, and critic. His best known novels are Nowhere Man (2002) and The Lazarus Project (2008).

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.

Early life

Hemon was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, then Yugoslavia, to a father of partial Ukrainian descent and a Bosnian Serb 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.


Hemon graduated from the University of Sarajevo and was a published writer in former Yugoslavia by the time he was 26.

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 is the winner of a MacArthur Foundation grant.

He published his first story in English, "The Life and Work of Alphonse Kauders" in Triquarterly in 1995, followed by "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 is currently a professor of creative writing at Princeton University, where he lives with his second wife, Teri Boyd, and their daughters Ella and Esther. 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 June 2006, "Exchange of Pleasant Words" and "A Coin" was published by Picador.

On 1 May 2008, Hemon released The Lazarus Project, inspired by the story of Lazarus Averbuch, which featured photographs by Hemon's childhood friend, photographer Velibor Božović. The novel was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award, and was named as a "New York Times Notable Book" and New York magazine's No. 1 Book of the Year.

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.

In 2011, Hemon was awarded PEN/W.G. Sebald Award chosen by the judges Jill Ciment, Salvatore Scibona, and Gary Shteyngart.

Hemon's first nonfiction book The Book of My Lives was released in 2013.

Hemon's novel The Making of Zombie Wars was released in 2015.

Critical reception

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.


  • 2017 PEN America Jean Stein Grant For Literary Oral History, for How Did You Get Here?: Tales of Displacement
  • 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
  • 2011 Premio Gregor von Rezzori for foreign fiction translated into Italian for The Lazarus Project (Il Progetto Lazarus), translated by Maurizia Balmelli (Einaudi)
  • 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 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. Archived from the original on December 26, 2010. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  • "If God existed, He'd be a solid midfielder". Granta. 108. Autumn 2009.


  • 2014 "The Matters of Life, Death, and More: Writing on Soccer", ISBN 9780374713164
  • 2015 "My Prisoner", ISBN 9780374713102
  • 2002 Nowhere Man, ISBN 9780330393508, OCLC 698889361
  • 2008 The Lazarus Project, ISBN 9781440637490, OCLC 883331173
  • 2015 The Making of Zombie Wars, ISBN 9780374203412, OCLC 953255017
Short story collections
  • 2000 The Question of Bruno, ISBN 9780385499231
  • 2009 Love and Obstacles. Riverhead Books, ISBN 9781594488641.
  • 2013 The Book of My Lives, ISBN 9780374115739
  • 2019 My Parents: An Introduction / This Does Not Belong to You, ISBN 9780374217433.
  • 2010 Best European Fiction 2010
  • 2010 Best European Fiction 2011
  • 2011 Best European Fiction 2012
  • 2012 Best European Fiction 2013


External links

  • 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"
  • Hemon, Aleksander The Tenants: An Introduction – Hemon provided the Introduction to the 2003 reissue of Bernard Malamud's 1971 novel The Tenants.
  • Portrait By Graphic Journalism Graphic Journalism
  • "National Subjects" in Guernica, January 2012
  • 2008 Bomb Magazine interview of Aleksandar Hemon by Deborah Baker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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