When I look at my old pictures, all I can see is what I used to be but am no longer. I think: What I can see is what I am not.— Aleksandar Hemon
The most inspiring Aleksandar Hemon quotes that are glad to read
Home is where somebody notices when you are no longer there.
I am itching to criticize some well-regarded writers' works, but I am not doing it because I am perfectly aware that my critique could easily be reduced to envy or just plain meanness.
I had an epiphany: I was a loser.
If you can't go home, there is nowhere to go, and nowhere is the biggest place in the world-indeed, nowhere is the world.
For people who are displaced, you can reconstruct the story of your life from the objects you have access to, but if you don't have the objects then there are holes in your life. This is why people in Bosnia - if anyone was running back into a burning house it was to salvage photos.
In the olden days, a memoir was something written by Churchill and people like that, because they had a grand experience and considered it useful for future generations. And then it became what it became - a public purging in which other people have the chance to judge you and then forgive you, perhaps learning something from your sorry example.
I like to blur the line between fact and fiction, but not to condescend to the reader by enmeshing her/him into some sort of a postmodern coop.
There are moments in life when it is all turned inside out--what is real becomes unreal, what is unreal becomes tangible, and all your levelheaded efforts to keep a tight ontological control are rendered silly and indulgent.
New York is the Hollywood of the publishing industry, complete with stars, starlets, suicidal publishers/producers, intrigues, and a lot of money.
We hated pretentiousness; it was a form of self-hatred.
Europe has never been a monolithic space, it contains a lot of people, a lot of languages and infinite supplies of history. I didn't need to do anything to showcase diversity. It is a condition of life and art in Europe, contained in every random sample.
It seemed that we loved each other better when there were large swaths of two continents between us. The daily work of love was often hard to perform at home.
I do have a sense of displacement as constant instability — the uninterrupted existence of everything that I love and care about is not guaranteed at all. I wait for catastrophes.
Whatever solidarity I have established with other writers individually, it is usually organized around books. We connected as readers, as it were, not writers.
Lord, why did you leave me in these woods?
The hopeless hope is one of the early harbingers of spring, bespeaking an innocent belief that the world might right its wrongs and reverse its curses simply because the trees are coming into leaf.
I resist when someone calls me a novelist: it implies some kind of inherent superiority of the novel. I'm not a novelist, I'm a writer.
Arabs are a complete abstraction in the propaganda world and all the death and destruction is completely unreal to Americans.
The funny thing is that in Bosnia there are no words that are equivalent to fiction and nonfiction. From the storytelling point of view, the difference is artificial.
When I came to America, I was already a writer, already published in Bosnia.
I was planning to go back, but I had no choice but to stay here after the civil war, so I enrolled at Northwestern in a master's program and studied American literature.
I think it's interesting, from a creative point of view, to have witnessed the loss of consciousness on a national level and on a cultural level - Bush had 91 percent support in the polls after 9/11. We wanted to kick some ass!
As long as there are living human beings, there will be language and stories.
Because sometimes you have no control over life and it keeps you far away from who you love.
I cannot think of a country in which I would be happy with the government and dominant ideology and available propaganda.
What I was interested in is the lens organizing my sovereign space.
I avoid the term outsider and also exile for the same reason. Outsider implies a kind of nobility.
We, as writers, have to figure out a way to create a consciousness in language.
It's crazy even to attempt to do that.
I'm not nervous if I think about something for nine years and then I don't write it. Even if it fades it doesn't concern me. It'll come back if it's worth it.
I've been a Nick Cave fan since the early '80s when he was part of The Birthday Party thing singing Australian self-destructive rock band and I've always followed his work and loved it.
I wanted us to share the sense that the number of wrong moves far exceeds the number of good moves, to share the frightening instability of the correct decision, to bond in being confounded.
Belief and delusion are incestuous siblings.
Cliché activates the comfortable mental laziness, we sort of revert to the domain of the already-familiar, what we have already imagined so that it doesn't seem that bad.
To me there's no difference between a book of stories and a novel - they're just slightly different shapes.
Memory narrativises itself.
Time does nothing but hand you down shabbier and older things.
I don't like having a teaching job - office hours and conferences and committees and bosses and all that - but I tend to enjoy teaching, and I design the course in such a way that there'll be pleasure in that.
I have been on the margins in terms of having to find a place to live and getting a job, but at some point, and before that point, I always thought no matter where I am, that's the center.
I do believe - and I know I shouldn't - that art transcends money and success and any of that. You can still do it if you're not clinging to the notion of nobility.
A particular piece of music attaches itself to the piece I'm writing, and there is nothing else I can listen to. Every day I return to the same space to write, the music providing both the walls and the pictures on the walls.
I spotted a can in the corner whose red label read SADNESS.
Was there so much of it they could can it and sell it? A bolt of pain went through my intestines before I realized that it was not SADNESS but SARDINES.
One builds one's life in consistency;
one invests it with the belief, however unsupported by reality, that one has always been what one is now, that even in one's distant past one could recognize the seed from which this doomed flower has bloomed.
What you demand from storytelling is a moral - even political - import.
I tend to shun that didactic aspect.
I loved you because there was no other place for me to go.
We were married because we did not know what else to do with each other. You never knew me, nothing about me, what died inside me, what lived invisibly.
I know a lot of people in the city, at all levels, horizontally and vertically - and that to me is a privilege, to me as a person but also a writer. I've dined with billionaires, and I play soccer with busboys.
I wish I could avoid the people who have threatened me.
My favorite threat is that I will be thrown in the River Miljacka, which is at most knee-deep, with my feet bound in cement.
Outsider means "I will accept the possibility that I don't have responsibility for what is happening inside my domain."
Projecting yourself until everything is talking about you is, of course, a self-flattering form of self-pity
I think about the story while I think about other things.
This is an important part of the process: I look at it sideways. If I look straight at it, it produces nothing other than what seem like complicated, brilliant designs that fall apart the following morning. In some way stories mature when you're not looking.
The privilege of a middle-class, stable, bourgeois life is that you can pretend that you are not complicated and project yourself as a solid, uncomplicated person, with refined life goals and achievements.
I am a writer, which means I write stories, I write novels, and I would write poetry if I knew how to. I don't want to limit myself.