The Matters of Life, Death, and More

Aleksandar Hemon

17 June 2014
96 pages


For Aleksandar Hemon, football is more than a sport. It certainly is not ‘exercise’. It is the beautiful game – and never more so than in The Matters of Life, Death, and More. From the celebrated author of The World and All That It Holds.

In this volume, Hemon revists memories of his first World Cup in 1974, for which his homeland – Yugoslavia – qualified in dramatic fashion. He takes us through the World Cups of the eighties, nineties and noughties, up to the brink of 2014: the first time Bosnia and Herzegovina had qualified in the country's history.

Here too are stories of heated games played in childhood, as Hemon recounts his youth on Sarajevo's gravel courtyards, the frozen pick-up games of his adulthood in Chicago, and the (slightly less intense) soccer practices of his daughter, replete with cones and shin guards.

As Hemon notes, ‘an average life seldom contains more than twenty World Cups – our games are tragically numbered’. In The Matters of Life, Death, and More, he pays due attention to the joy, skill, agony, triumph and the beauty of everything that football is. And football is, of course, everything.