The Book of My Lives: Book summary and reviews of The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon

The Book of My Lives

by Aleksandar Hemon

The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon X
The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon
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  • Published Mar 2013
    224 pages
    Genre: Essays

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Book Summary

Aleksandar Hemon's lives begin in Sarajevo, a small, blissful city where a young boy's life is consumed with street soccer with the neighborhood kids, resentment of his younger sister, and trips abroad with his engineer-cum-beekeeper father. Here, a young man's life is about poking at the pretensions of the city's elders with American music, bad poetry, and slightly better journalism. And then, his life in Chicago: watching from afar as war breaks out in Sarajevo and the city comes under siege, no way to return home; his parents and sister fleeing Sarajevo with the family dog, leaving behind all else they had ever known; and Hemon himself starting a new life, his own family, in this new city.

And yet this is not really a memoir. The Book of My Lives, Hemon's first book of nonfiction, defies convention and expectation. It is a love song to two different cities; it is a heartbreaking paean to the bonds of family; it is a stirring exhortation to go out and play soccer - and not for the exercise. It is a book driven by passions but built on fierce intelligence, devastating experience, and sharp insight. And like the best narratives, it is a book that will leave you a different reader - a different person, with a new way of looking at the world - when you've finished. For fans of Hemon's fiction,The Book of My Lives is simply indispensable; for the uninitiated, it is the perfect introduction to one of the great writers of our time.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The first half of the book...lacks a wider perspective that would make them more inviting and compelling. But with the eighth entry...the author begins to reveal more of his feelings, dwelling less on philosophy, thereby creating a true connection with his subject and audience." - Publishers Weekly

"The chapters, in fact, could in many ways stand alone. But their cumulative emotional power - accelerated by a wrenching final section about the grievous illness of his younger daughter - eventually all but overwhelms. Amuses, informs and inspires - then, finally, rips open the heart." - Kirkus

"Aleksandar Hemon is, quite frankly, the greatest writer of our generation. His literature is deep, agile, funny, graceful, searing, angry, raw, questioning...This is a book - like all of Aleksandar Hemon's books—that is an aria for our times. I will cherish it." - Colum McCann

"Incandescent. When your eyes close, the power of Aleksandar Hemon's colossal talent remains." - Junot Díaz

"Aleksandar Hemon's work crackles with so much humor and irony, so much compassion and humanity, that The Book of My Lives's true calling almost goes by unnoticed: it is, without doubt, the most necessary, intimate, and heartbreaking portrait of a world lost to one of history's darkest conflicts." - Téa Obreht

"I'm not quite sure Aleksandar Hemon counts as an American writer, but he is one of my favorite American writers. Before The Book of My Lives, I never really thought of him as a nonfiction person, but this new book - a memoir in essays - has some of his best writing. When Hemon's work is funny, it can make you laugh in spite of everything, and when it is sad, it's hard to stand up afterward." - John Jeremiah Sullivan

"The Book of My Lives is written with the full force of humanity. It will make you think, laugh, cry, and remember yourself. If you've never read Aleksandar Hemon, prepare to have your worldview deepened." - Jonathan Safran Foer

This information about The Book of My Lives was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Aleksandar Hemon Author Biography

Photo: Sa Schloff

Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and three books of short stories: The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Love and Obstacles. He was the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship and a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation, and the 2020 Dos Passos Prize. He lives in Chicago.

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