In this stylistically adventurous, brilliantly funny tour de force-the most highly acclaimed debut since Nathan Englander's-Aleksander Hemon writes of love and war, Sarajevo and America, with a skill and imagination that are breathtaking.
Hemon left his native Bosnia just before the outbreak of the civil war, settled in Chicago, and soon after began rigorously studying English. Unsurprisingly, his debut has been compared to the fiction of Conrad and Nabokov icons who proved that the risky business of writing in an adopted language can produce admirable results. But Conrad s crowded, premeditated sentences and Nabokov s rhythmical and metaphorical prose are quite different from Hemon s clearheaded fiction, which centers on the unique political tensions of Tito s Yugoslavia. Hemon s writing is sensible, with a hint of satire, and is heavily based on wistful description rather than farfetched dialog. Although dissimilar in format, the seven stories here echo the same nostalgic voice and the theme of dealing with the sudden eruption of childhood memories and the shifting identities of a weary immigrant. This kind of fiction doesn t betray itself, but the author s bold experimentation with form easily outsmarts the reader. The Life and Work of Alphonse Kauders is actually highly suggestive of Donald Barthelme s clever symbolism, while A Coin reveals that Hemon can tell a war story in the tradition of Tim O Brien, combining magical realism with raw truth. This is the work of a rare talent who deserves our attention. Mirela Roncevic, Library Journal Mystery & suspense By Rex Klett Mitchell Community Coll., LRC,Statesville, NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.