Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Aleksandar Hemon masters English with Love and Obstacles

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2009 at 8:00 PM

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Like China's Ha Jin, Bosnia's Aleksandar Hemon learned English as an adult and quickly became its master as an acclaimed fiction writer. It's as though Hemon and Ha Jin are trying to make us less-lauded, native English speakers look bad.

Hemon moved to the United States in his late 20s, shortly before civil war broke out in Bosnia. He began writing in English in 1995, and in just over a decade has published his stories in the New Yorker, won a MacArthur Genius grant, and been a National Book Award finalist for his 2008 novel The Lazarus Project. From some of his descriptive passages, you'd assume Hemon grew up with the language: "A few days later, spring parachuted into Chicago: the air was abruptly warm and fragrant, the grass was suddenly green, as if it had been painted overnight."

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(Image courtesy Riverhead Books)

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