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

Aleksandar Hemon

31 October 2019
368 pages


Two magnificent memoirs by Aleksandar Hemon, presented together in a glorious single edition: together they make a major work from one of our major writers.

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.

He portrays both the perfect, intimate details – of his mother’s lonely upbringing, his father’s fanatical beekeeping – and a sweeping, heartbreaking history of his native country. It is a story of his family and of German occupying forces, Yugoslav partisans, royalist Serb collaborators, singing Ukrainians, and a few confused Canadians.

This Does Not Belong to You is the exhilarating, freewheeling, unabashedly personal companion to My Parents. It shows Hemon at his most dazzling and untempered in a series of beautifully distilled memories and observations about his family, friends and childhood in Sarajevo, presented as explosive, hilarious, poignant miniatures.

‘Not only is Hemon's book a masterpiece in literary terms, it is also a repudiation of the idea of the immigrant as a singular and infantilized creature, a human of lesser depth and complexity than everyone else’ – Rafia Zakaria, TLS

Aleksandar Hemon is, quite frankly, the greatest writer of our generation.
Hemon at his most contemplative, whimsical, and personal . . . a joy
Gorgeous . . . The writing contains both immediacy and a thrillingly historical long view . . . There is all the love and frustration here that anyone feels for their aging parents . . . [and] some of the best writing about what it really feels like to be a child that I can recall reading.