My Parents: An Introduction / This Does Not Belong to You

Aleksandar Hemon

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31 October 2019
368 pages

Two magnificent memoirs by Aleksandar Hemon, presented together in a glorious single edition: together they make a major work from one of our major writers.

In My Parents, Aleksandar Hemon tells the story of his parents’ immigration to Canada – of the lives that were upended by the war in Bosnia and siege of Sarajevo, and the new lives his parents were forced to build. He portrays both the perfect, intimate details (his mother’s lonely upbringing, his father’s fanatical beekeeping) and a sweeping, heartbreaking history of his native country. It is a story full of many Hemons, of course – his parents, sister, uncles, cousins – and also of German occupying forces, Yugoslav partisans, royalist Serb collaborators, singing Ukrainians, and a few befuddled Canadians. My Parents is grounded in stories lovingly polished by retelling, but made thrilling and fresh in writing, summoning unexpected laughs in the midst of the heartbreaking narratives.

This Does Not Belong to You, meanwhile, is the exhilarating, freewheeling, unabashedly personal companion to My Parents – a perfect dose of Hemon at his most dazzling and untempered in a series of beautifully distilled memories and observations about his family, friends and childhood in Sarajevo, presented as explosive, hilarious, poignant miniatures.

Together these two books complement each other and form a major work from a major writer. Hemon has never been better than here and the moment has never been more ready for his voice, nor has the world ever been more in need of it.

Aleksandar Hemon is, quite frankly, the greatest writer of our generation.

Colum McCann

Hemon at his most contemplative, whimsical, and personal . . . a joy

Los Angeles Times

Gorgeous . . . The writing contains both immediacy and a thrillingly historical long view . . . There is all the love and frustration here that anyone feels for their aging parents . . . [and] some of the best writing about what it really feels like to be a child that I can recall reading.