Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Aleksander Hemon  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1964 in Sarajevo, Bosnia

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Illinois Connection

Hemon moved to Chicago in 1992 and still lives there today.

Biographical and Professional Information

Aleksander Hemon is the author of ''The Lazarus Project'', which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, and three collections 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 also edited ''Best European Fiction 2010''.Born in Sarajevo, Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return home. Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Život i djelo Alphonsea Kaudersa: Priče (Savremena proza) (Croatian Edition)
ISBN: 9958200082

Bosanska knj. 1997

The Question of Bruno: Stories
ISBN: 0375727000

Vintage. 2001

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.

Nowhere Man
ISBN: 0375727027

Vintage. 2004

A native of Sarajevo, where he spends his adolescence trying to become Bosnia’s answer to John Lennon, Jozef Pronek comes to the United States in 1992—just in time to watch war break out in his country, but too early to be a genuine refugee. Indeed, Jozef’s typical answer to inquiries about his origins and ethnicity is, “I am complicated.”

And so he proves to be—not just to himself, but to the revolving series of shadowy but insightful narrators who chart his progress from Sarajevo to Chicago from a hilarious encounter with the first President Bush to a somewhat more grave one with a heavily armed Serb whom he has been hired to serve with court papers. Moving, disquieting, and exhilarating in its virtuosity, Nowhere Man is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a magnetic young man stranded in America by the war in Bosnia.

Picador Shots - A Coin (Picador Shots)
ISBN: 0330445812

Picador. 2006

The Lazarus Project
ISBN: 1594483752

Riverhead Books. 2009

The only novel from MacArthur Genius Award winner, Aleksandar Hemon -- the National Book Critics Circle Award winning The Lazarus Project.

On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, an Eastern European Jewish immigrant, was shot to death on the doorstep of the Chicago chief of police and cast as a would-be anarchist assassin.

A century later, a young Eastern European writer in Chicago named Brik becomes obsessed with Lazarus's story. Brik enlists his friend Rora-a war photographer from Sarajevo-to join him in retracing Averbuch's path.

Through a history of pogroms and poverty, and a prism of a present-day landscape of cheap mafiosi and even cheaper prostitutes, the stories of Averbuch and Brik become inextricably intertwined, creating a truly original, provocative, and entertaining novel that confirms Aleksandar Hemon, often compared to Vladimir Nabokov, as one of the most dynamic and essential literary voices of our time.

From the author of The Book of My Lives.

Love and Obstacles
ISBN: 1594484619

Riverhead Books. 2010

From the celebrated author of the bestselling Lazarus Project "a dazzling collection of stories ... further cementing [Hemon's] position among the finest fiction writers working in English" (GQ).

The stories of Aleksandar Hemon's Love and Obstacles are united by their narrator, a young man coming of age in Communist-but-cosmopolitan Sarajevo who will leave for the United States just as his city is torn asunder. In Hemon's hands, seemingly mundane childhood experiences become daring, dramatic adventures, while unique and wrenching circumstances become a common ground that involves us all. As cohesive and impressive as any novel, the short story collection Love and Obstacles stands with the National Book Award finalist The Lazarus Project as the best work of this MacArthur Genius Award winner's career.

From the author of The Book of My Lives.

The Book of My Lives
ISBN: 0374115737

Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2013

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.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013

The Making of Zombie Wars: A Novel
ISBN: 1250094623

Picador. 2016

“Aleksandar Hemon is on fire.” ―Vanity Fair

“His writing style is as vital and rewarding as ever. . . . The kind of writing that pulls you in and holds you there.” ―San Francisco Chronicle

Joshua Levin has a reasonably comfortable Chicago apartment, a mildly dysfunctional family sprinkled throughout the suburbs, a steady job teaching ESL, a devoted girlfriend who lives down the block, and a laptop full of screenplay ideas―one of which he thinks, might turn out to be good: Zombie Wars.

But all it takes is a few unexpected events―his already unhinged army vet of a landlord experiencing something of a psychotic break, a moment of weakness (or two) with his sultry Bosnian student―for Joshua’s life to descend into chaos. As the stakes quickly move from absurd to life-and-death matters, The Making of Zombie Wars takes on real consequence.


He has won many awards including the National Magazine Award for Fiction from the ''New Yorker'', the St. Francis College Literary Prize, and he was awarded the "genius" grant from the MacArthur foundation and a Guggenheim fellowship. He also received the John C Zacharis First Book Award from ''Ploughshares''.

The Question of Bruno

  • BEST BOOKS OF 2000
  • Notable Book, New York Times Book Review
  • Ten Best Books of the Year, Esquire
  • 25 Favorite Books of the Year, Village Voice
  • Best Book of 2000, Los Angeles Times
  • Washington Post Book World "Rave"
  • Nowhere Man

  • Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award
  • Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
  • The Lazarus Project

  • Finalist, National Book Award, 2008
  • Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award
  • Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
  • Love and Obstacles

  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
  • The Book of My Lives

  • Finalist, National Book Critics Circle Award

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)