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

Aleksandar Hemon

Bio

Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Making of Zombie Wars; The Book of My Lives, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and a New York Times bestseller; and three books of short stories, including Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Genius Grant from the MacArthur Foundation. His most recent book is the dual memoir, MY PARENTS: An Introduction and THIS DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU, published by MCD/FSG.

Sessions

What we Gain When we Welcome, PEN American Immigration Track

There are few subjects in American life that prompt more discussion and controversy than immigration. In his new memoir, My Parents: An Introduction; This Does Not Belong To You, Aleksandar Hemon examines the personal story of his family’s immigration from Sarajevo. It is a story of many Hemons—his parents, sister, uncles, and cousins—and also of German occupying forces, Yugoslav partisans, royalist Serb collaborators, and a few befuddled Canadians. In This Land Is Our Land: An Immigrant's Manifesto, the renowned author Suketu Mehta attacks the issue of immigration pragmatically. Drawing on his own experience as an Indian-born teenager growing up in New York City and on years of reporting around the world, Mehta subjects the worldwide anti-immigrant backlash to withering scrutiny. As he explains, the West is being destroyed not by immigrants but by the fear of immigrants.

Moderator: Jeremy Redmon

Jeremy Redmon is an award-winning journalist with 25 years of experience reporting for newspapers in the Southeast, including the last 14 years for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. His assignments have taken him to the U.S.-Mexican border, Central America and the Middle East, and he has written extensively about war, politics, immigration and refugees.

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

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. As ever with his work, 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 Hemon at his very best, grounded in stories lovingly polished by retelling, but making them exhilarating 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 and explosive, hilarious, poignant miniatures. Presented dos-à-dos with My Parents, it complements and completes a major work from a major writer. In the words of Colum McCann, “Aleksandar Hemon is, quite frankly, the greatest writer of our generation.” Hemon has never been better than here in these pages. And the moment has never been more ready for his voice, nor has the world ever been more in need of it.

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