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Nominated for the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award, Fiction.
"A charmingly discombobulated take on life and language. . . . Hemon makes ordinary occurrences read like psychic disturbances." —The Village Voice
“A virtuoso linguist, stylist and social observer . . . Hemon delivers a searing, mordantly funny novel. . . . The angst-ridden, horny, adolescent Balkan he depicts is deeply human, totally irresistible and often hilarious, and by turns culturally specific and universal.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Hemon’s fractured story will haunt you long after you want it to, as you slowly realize that just because the last sentence ended with a period, all that was said before continues.” –Chicago Sun-Times
Posted October 13, 2005
Aleksandar Hemon's 'Nowhere Man' is a thoroughly enjoyable read, with a quirky charm, distinctive characters, full of wit and genuinely funny moments. Hemon tells us the story of Jozef Pronek, an immigrant from Bosnia, who like the people who narrate his life story, feels lost and disillusioned from the life he is living. Jozef's inner frustration and personal journey makes the character very engaging and very relatable. Rather than tell a straight-forward story, Hemon jumps around in the telling of the story and goes from narrator to narrator, each of whom has a different perspective on who Jozef Pronek really is. Although 'Nowhere Man' may come across as too confusing or ambigious, it always keeps you interested. Hemon shows what an incredibly talented and creative author he is with this book. Recommended.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 19, 2003
It was very interesting to read a novel in English by a fellow Eastern European - and in English that is better, richer , and more imaginative in its mastery than that of today's many linguistically "indigenous" writers'. The main protagonist reminds me of another Eastern European character, namely The Brave Soldier Schweick, but without the latter's exuberant humour and redeeming, saving idiocy. Of course, Nowhere Man is an enjoyable reading. However, I will also mention what I didn't like in the book. Is it an hommage to the North American hypocritical all-inclusiveness when the author lets in homosexual themes? The two respective chapters sound contrived and, well, unnatural. By the way I am sure in his native land these digressive tours de fource won't be appreciated. There used to be a little obscure parvenu, Eduard Limonov, who would try to jump out of his skin to get noticed and who wrote a "shocking " novel with explicit scenes treating homosexuality and loneliness. Hemon caters to different stratum, more intellectual, and, well... you know what I want to say. Anything to boost sales? And then again, did anyone understand the last chapter? Some Eastern Europeans would use a proverbial saying - "this chapter is as necessary for this novel as a fifth leg for a dog..." The protagonist is not being transformed - he remains till the end of the novel as slightly gloomy a stranger to us as he was at the beginning. Sure, it is the author's right to generate whatever he/she wants, but the world has seen enough of the mind-bogglingly incomprehensible Balkan boys with guns on CNN. Why create another one (without a gun), equally leaving you with the same "I don't understand...", without deeper insights? I for that matter was truly rooting to know more of the goings-on in his head and (sorry, North Americans if it makes you grin) soul - much more than what is being scantily alloted in the chapters. All this said (to be more than one-dimentional in reviewing this laudable work), I would like to draw potential readers' attention to the command of language, again: Hemon creates his own version of English, with flavours not to be found anywhere else; his world of the five natural senses is palpable and unforgettable. And his vision of this New World's solitude and restlessness is so painfully similar to that of mine, recent émigré's - I see what surronds me differently from those born here, too. His quiet look at the woeful univers of humans is somehow, strangely enough, soothing. Long after the recent Balkan bloodsheds are quasi-forgotten and perceived as hard to believe in as the senseless imperialistic WWI, the Pronek man will go on living on the pages of the books (there are two out there so far), will be read all over the world, will make people frown and smile, will leave the readers with the sense of nostalgia for the entire epoch gone by, eaten by the cat/chronos. Just like that little Brave Soldier Sveik by Jaroslav Hasek does...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 30, 2002
Hemon conveys a style not seen enough in today's works. His bold narrative strikes right to the heart of the story, telling more about the main Character then I thought possible. His tale of Jozef Pronek, from a hectic youth to a small part of the lost masses in Chicago, far from his native land, portrays a sort of isolationism that recalls Conrad's Heart of Darkness and the works of Salinger. He brings life to every portion of Jozef's story, his struggle to lose his virginity, his search for a job that won't bore him to death, his expectance of a life he has to take on as doors close behind him, and all through the eyes of others. The prose is brilliant, the scenes masterfully painted and the character truly unforgettable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.