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9780375727009

The Question of Bruno: Stories

Hemon, Aleksandar

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9780375727009: The Question of Bruno: Stories

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.

A love affair is experienced in the blink of an eye as the Archduke Ferdinand watches his wife succumb to an assassin's bullet. An exiled writer, working in a sandwich shop in Chicago, adjusts to the absurdities of his life. Love letters from war torn Sarajevo navigate the art of getting from point A to point B without being shot. With a surefooted sense of detail and life-saving humor, Aleksandar Hemon examines the overwhelming events of history and the effect they have on individual lives. These heartrending stories bear the unmistakable mark of an important new international writer.

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Aleksandar Hemon moved to the U.S. from Bosnia in the early 1990s, prior to the siege of Sarajevo. He swiftly learned English and began writing, in his adopted language, stories about the traumas of immigrant experience and the pain of witnessing the war from his American exile. His impressive debut, The Question of Bruno, may lack the fluency and imaginative élan of Kundera and the linguistic density and sophistication of Conrad (both of whom Hemon specifically invokes), yet these stories have a haunting power that lingers long after a first reading.

By turns tragic and darkly comic, the stories are a mixed bag in terms of style. They are unified, however, by theme. In "Islands," for example, a boy and his family visit their Uncle Julius on the island of Mljet, which is infested by the very mongooses that were imported to deal with the snake problem. Julius, veteran of a Stalinist prison camp, takes a stoical tack: "So that's how it is, he said, it's all one pest after another, like revolutions." And when the family returns to Sarajevo, they are greeted by their neglected, starved cat, shaking "with irreversible hatred." The hungry feline returns in another story, when we learn that Sarajevo under siege was filled with starving cats, which were eaten by starving dogs. If it's symbolism you're after, look no further.

One of the best stories, "The Sorge Spy Ring," wonderfully evokes a sad childhood spent in the shadow of Tito's cold war repressions. A man buys his son a portable telegraph set, and the two communicate in Morse code in the privacy of their own home--but later the father is arrested for espionage, and as Tito finally dies, he too languishes on his deathbed, weakly sucking a banana. The image is both poignant and pathetic. It's also the sort of tight close-up that Hemon loves (the camera and the television are dominant images, as one might expect from a writer who resorts to CNN to find out what's happening at home). There are moments when his language is slightly unidiomatic and offkey, as if he's leaned too heavily on a well-thumbed thesaurus. On the whole, though, this is an honest, vivid, and sometimes brilliant collection. --Jonathan Allison

From the Back Cover:

“Not just an extraordinary storyteller but an extraordinary writer: one who seems not simply gifted but necessary.”– The New York Times Book Review

“By turns terrifying, gently comic and brutally satiric, these are stunning stories that compel the reader to view a world rendered ... abruptly alien and unfamiliar.”– San Francisco Chronicle

“The man is a maestro.... As vivid a prose as you will find anywhere this year, and as heartbreaking.”– Esquire

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Book Description VINTAGE, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 130 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. 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. A love affair is experienced in the blink of an eye as the Archduke Ferdinand watches his wife succumb to an assassin s bullet. An exiled writer, working in a sandwich shop in Chicago, adjusts to the absurdities of his life. Love letters from war torn Sarajevo navigate the art of getting from point A to point B without being shot. With a surefooted sense of detail and life-saving humor, Aleksandar Hemon examines the overwhelming events of history and the effect they have on individual lives. These heartrending stories bear the unmistakable mark of an important new international writer. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780375727009

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Book Description VINTAGE, United States, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 130 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. 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. A love affair is experienced in the blink of an eye as the Archduke Ferdinand watches his wife succumb to an assassin s bullet. An exiled writer, working in a sandwich shop in Chicago, adjusts to the absurdities of his life. Love letters from war torn Sarajevo navigate the art of getting from point A to point B without being shot. With a surefooted sense of detail and life-saving humor, Aleksandar Hemon examines the overwhelming events of history and the effect they have on individual lives. These heartrending stories bear the unmistakable mark of an important new international writer. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780375727009

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