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Aleksandar Hemon: “I cannot stand that whole game of confession. I have nothing to confess and I do not ask for redemption”

Though I've known Aleksandar Hemon over the years — we first met at the book party for his second work of fiction, "Nowhere Man," at his publisher's house in New York — I've only had a chance to really sit and talk with him in Chicago, my native city and his adopted hometown. I interviewed him in 2009 for Bookforum, about "Love and Obstacles," his last collection of stories, when he told me he hated memoir — which made me laugh, especially since his editor published James Frey, whose loose interpretation of the form landed the "memoirist" in hot water with the formidable Oprah Winfrey. But I remember thinking, as we parted ways, if anyone should be writing memoir, it should be Hemon, a man who has led at least two distinct lives: one in Sarajevo just before the siege, and then his life as an accidental, now naturalized citizen of Chicago, after a junket to the States left him stranded here, unable to return to his war-torn home. And while he has expertly mined this bisected existence for his fiction, I was eager as a reader and as an acquaintance, to learn the "true stories," as they call them in Bosnia (Hemon explains there are no words in Bosnian for "fiction" or "nonfiction," per se).

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