ALEKSANDAR HEMON
in conversation with Joanna Labon


Aleksandar Hemon, born in Sarajevo in 1964, began writing as a teenager, was a published writer by the time he graduated from Sarajevo University, and later became cultural editor of Dani, the independent Sarajevo weekly. On a writers' exchange to Chicago in 1992 he was due to fly home the day the three-year long siege of Sarajevo began. Torn between returning or remaining in the US, he applied for political asylum.

His metamorphosis within a few years from Bosnian refugee with basic English to an author writing in English making the most acclaimed literary debut in decades was astonishing. Hemon laboriously expanded his knowledge of English, using Nabokov's Lolita as his key to unlocking the language. Giving himself the goal of writing a publishable story in English within five years, he achieved it in three, and in 2000 his collection of linked short stories, The Question of Bruno (Picador) appeared, generating an extraordinary storm of praise from critics and writers alike.

War, exile and loss, family histories and epoch-making events are viewed through the lens of Hemon's often surreal vision. Bracketed with Conrad, Nabokov and Kundera, Hemon's prose has been described as making "the most of emphatically discordant notes: an initially incongruous word comes to seem the perfect choice". Aleksandar Hemon's second book, Nowhere Man, will appear in the UK early next year. He writes a regular column, Hemonwood, for Dani.

Joanna Labon is the editor of Balkan Blues: Writings Out of Yugoslavia (Writings from an Unbound Europe).

23 SEPTEMBER 7.45PM
Tickets 3 (1 concessions)
RIVERSIDE STUDIOS, CRISP ROAD, HAMMERSMITH, W6 9RL
BOX OFFICE 020 8237 1111


DISCUSSION: ONE CULTURE?

In his book BOSNIA; A CULTURAL HISTORY, Ivan Lovrenovic wrote 'The essence of Bosnian cultural heritage is the complexity of its civilisation, the simultaneity of one shared and three separate traditions'. Bosnia is famously a country where very different traditions and religions meet, and the recent war was a brutal attempt to enforce divisions on the fabric of its society. What is the state of Bosnia today? Is it a cultural whole? or a series of very different cultures that exist in parallel? Please call for full details on participating speakers.

Saturday 28 September 2.30pm
Tickets 2 (1 concessions)
RIVERSIDE STUDIOS, CRISP ROAD, HAMMERSMITH, W6 9RL
BOX OFFICE 020 8237 1111



DISCUSSION: A CULTURE IN EXILE

In the decade since the war began Bosnian communities have established themselves across the globe. What happens when to a culture when it migrates and what is the relationship it has with the country left behind? What is the experience of the individual within these new communities?

The discussion will be chaired by Jennifer Langer of Exiled Writers Ink. Please call for full details on participating speakers.

Sunday 29 September 2.30pm
Tickets 2 (1 concessions)
RIVERSIDE STUDIOS, CRISP ROAD, HAMMERSMITH, W6 9RL
BOX OFFICE 020 8237 1111