A father and his daughter’s brain tumor. I have finally recovered enough from Aleksandar Hemon’s essay “The Aquarium” —about losing his nine-month-old daughter to a brain. The Aquarium, by Aleksandar Hemon. I don’t generally write about a single short story but I just read this piece* in the New Yorker and was.

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For a young child — and this was just a year or so prior to that time when forever afterwards long motorway journeys would be synonymous in my mind with hours-long, blissful opportunities for reading — such a journey might have seemed both endless and dull, but my dad was always an intrepid motorhead, and already such lengthy expeditions were a commonplace in my life.

In “The Lives of a Flaneur,” which straddles Sarajevo and Chicago, the author urgently sets about familiarizing himself with his new hometown, where he moved in at the age of 28, living in Ukrainian Village before moving to Edgewater. The problem is not that he doesn’t have words to describe it: By Melanie Walsh In some ways, the 15 nonfiction pieces in Aleksandar Hemon’s The Book of My Lives resemble the short stories in the author’s collection Love and Obstacles: Manic Mondays Frances Cocktail Lounge.

Narrative imagination—and therefore fiction—was a basic evolutionary tool of survival.

The Aquarium by Aleksandar Hemon · Longform

It would be natural and probably necessary for Hemon to find words for what happened, because that is what writers do. The most intriguing and disturbing stories, though, concern the rabid nationalism of many Serbs during the Yugoslav wars—particularly their hatred of Bosnian Muslims, which resulted in wholesale slaughter.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here He also looks, more broadly, at the effects of social influence on the self. I also understand now that while my own three-year-old son at the time did not progress in acquiring language the way little Ella did, he was drawing pictures that were beyond his age.


Because my brother had contracted viral meningitis. The key factor is inherited hatred. Essays this clear and vulnerable are not immune to critics: Even those pieces devoted to the Yugoslav conflict are exasperating. She has to construct imaginary narratives in order to try out the words that she suddenly possesses.

What both Spohr and Hemon do best in taking their grief public is to serve others who have gone through any version of what they have.

But squarium becomes particularly resonant when coupled with the man’s relationship to language, especially as regards this particular situation. The 30 pieces—plus five online-only exclusives—selected for this year’s issue.

He rhe just a baby, not quite two years old. Seuss’ The Grinch Fantastic Beasts: My brother made a full recovery. Related Locations Tribune Tower N.

Hemon explores his own reaction alongside that of his elder daughter, a three-year-old in the midst of the kind of language bloom that strikes children her age, the sudden availability of new vocabulary far outstripping the occasions they have to use it.

He really pinned it down. This, Wit and The Year of Magical Thinking are the best works about the experience of physical illness, hospitals, and grief that I have ever encountered.

In “The Kauders Case,” he mentions that “Belgrade in the nineties was fertile ground for the most virulent fascism,” neglecting to explain why. Not long after that he was boasting about the monster injections lumbar punctures he had been given. Only the death of an infant child, told from the perspective of a parent who feels at once compelled to write about laeksandar experience and yet to write in an adopted language.

The title of the piece refers to Hemon’s disoriented feeling while Isabel was sick: Serb nationalists’ rage toward Muslims resembled that of the predominantly Maronite militias during the Lebanese civil war, and the anti-Sunni fury of the Alawite-dominated Syrian army and “shabbiha” militias today.


Seemingly out of nowhere, my brother fell ill. In “The Lives of Others,” Hemon quotes the Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic’s description of his entry into Srebrenica, where his men would commit genocide—”This is the latest victory in a five-hundred-year-long war aquarijm the Turks”—but fails to break down the thinking behind such a ludicrous statement.

‘The Aquarium’ by Aleksandar Hemon

The Chicago company is looking for a way to survive in a changing world. It was published in The Nation in I remember not making nearly as much fuss about this as I might usually have done — I did somehow grasp that my brother was seriously ill and that anything I might do or say that did not directly relate to this or help the situation would be embarrassingly inappropriate — but I was confused, and a bit scared, in a kind of emotional stasis.

The more that Serb militias pummel a besieged Sarajevo, the faster Hemon must make Chicago his own.

It’s definitely a story that will stick with you for a long time. When we consider the plausibility of a literature module or literary competence alongside the properties assumed to belong to other innate faculties of mind, we seem moved in one of two directions: Inhowever, his nine-month-old daughter Isabel was diagnosed with an exceptionally rare type of brain tumour, and after a series of awful interventions she died in hospital before her first birthday. He analyzes his feelings, what his three-year-old is going through at the time, and the awkward way others offer aleksandxr platitudes.

And “The Squarium of My Life,” about Hemon’s college literature professor, never goes beyond the scholarly exterior to reveal the man’s motivations for joining Karadzic.