Nowhere Man

Nowhere Man

Aleksandar Hemon

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0375727027

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A native of Sarajevo, where he spends his adolescence trying to become Bosnia’s answer to John Lennon, Jozef Pronek comes to the United States in 1992—just in time to watch war break out in his country, but too early to be a genuine refugee. Indeed, Jozef’s typical answer to inquiries about his origins and ethnicity is, “I am complicated.”

And so he proves to be—not just to himself, but to the revolving series of shadowy but insightful narrators who chart his progress from Sarajevo to Chicago; from a hilarious encounter with the first President Bush to a somewhat more grave one with a heavily armed Serb whom he has been hired to serve with court papers. Moving, disquieting, and exhilarating in its virtuosity, Nowhere Man is the kaleidoscopic portrait of a magnetic young man stranded in America by the war in Bosnia.

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cried, seeing all the flowers bowing down, as if their spines were broken. And a sense sneaked upon them, a sense that love was not enough to keep them together—they sat on a bench on the Vilsonovo and watched deflated soccer balls roiling in a Miljacka whirl. They were eighteen, and felt very old. Thus they broke up: tears; meaningless late night phone calls; a few letters in the handwriting of love and helplessness; a series of Pronek’s late night guitar-playing sessions, interrupted by his

caring about my ankles or my neck, followed by an echo of Natalyka’s tormented gasp. I burst into the room without knocking, and Jozef was naked. I could not help noticing—and I was too excited to try—a hair vine crawling up from his sooty crotch to his navel, and curls spiraling around his nipples. “There’s been a coup!” I nearly hollered. “What?” “There’s been a coup!” I hollered. “What is coup?” It was rather annoying, his ignorant calm, his boxers sliding up his alabaster thighs. “A

dictionary. There was a pile of newspapers on the table, the front page facing me: DEFENSES COLLAPSE IN GORAZDE. When I was thirteen I had spent the summer at a seaside resort for Tito’s pioneers and fallen in love with a girl from Goražde. Her name was Emina, and she taught me to kiss using my tongue, and she let me touch her breasts—she was the first girl I had ever touched who wore a bra. U.S. SEIZES BOAT CARRYING 111 IMMIGRANTS, a headline read. My palms were sweating, my fingertips moist,

Sun-Times, with an eager pen in his hand. “If this is a detective novel,” Pronek thought, “I will hear shooting now.” He imagined going around the house, jumping over the wire fence, looking in, and seeing a body in the middle of a carmine puddle spreading all over the floor, a mysterious fragrance still in the air. Then running back to Owen, only to find him with a little powder-black hole in his left temple, his hand petrified under his armpit, too slow to save him. There was no doubt that he

globe—SAVE OUR MOTHER, the poster demanded. He thought of his mother and recalled her sitting with her feet propped on the coffee table, tufts of cotton between her toes, the arches of her feet symmetrical. The office smelled like ocean and pines and perspiration. He walked to the reception desk and a black woman with shorn hair told him to sit down and wait. In the corner there was a wizened palm of an uncertain green color, its flaccid leaves looking down at the pot. He looked at his hands, and

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