Aleksandar Hemon can make a lot of other writers want their mommies.
The story of his arrival of the Bosnian native to the United States shortly before war broke out in his homeland is the stuff of legend.
Having a tourist’s version of English when he set foot in America, Hemon set out first to master the language, and then to write for top-flight publications within five years.
He met both goals with a year to spare.
Dunreith and our dear friend, Holocaust survivor, artist, poet and general life inspiration Ava Kadishshon Schieber will be in attendance.
I’ve written before about The Lazarus Project, which intertwines the stories of the early 20th century murder of Lazarus Averbuch by the head of the Chicago Police Department and the quest 100 years later of a Bosnian immigrant writer and his photographer best friend to understand what happened.
While many people may be familiar with Hemon’s work, fewer may know about Walter Roth’s The Accidental Anarchist, a book on which Hemon drew heavily during the writing of the novel. I had the privilege to meet Roth, whose readable account provides useful background information for Hemon’s work, at a meeting to which Ava invited me of people who had been hidden children during World War II.
At an event last year for his friend Velibor Bozovic, whose black and white pictures run throughout the book, Hemon talked about a trip he and Bozovic took to Eastern Europe before writing the book to understand how the two main characters would experience different moments.
It may sound fantastical, and some may look at the novel’s characters and dispute Hemon’s claims that his protagonists are characters are characters and nothing more. But in either case, I hope those conversations come after reading his book. You can’t help but learn from one of this generation’s leading fiction writers; spending time with Roth’s work helps deepen one’s understanding.