And yet this is not really a memoir. The Book of My Lives, Hemon's first book of nonfiction, defies convention and expectation. It is a love song to two different cities; it is a heartbreaking paean to the bonds of family; it is a stirring exhortation to go out and play soccer—and not for the exercise. It is a book driven by passions but built on fierce intelligence, devastating experience, and sharp insight. And like the best narratives, it is a book that will leave you a different reader—a different person, with a new way of looking at the world—when you've finished. For fans of Hemon's fiction, The Book of My Lives is simply indispensable; for the uninitiated, it is the perfect introduction to one of the great writers of our time.A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2013
He meets the Palestinian residents of Tel Rumeida, and the messianic settlers who have made their homes in a block of flats that stands on stilts on an excavated corner of the site. He meets the archaeologists who have attempted to reconstruct the history of the hill. He meets the soldiers who serve in Hebron, and the intermediaries who try to keep the peace in the divided city. The City of Abraham explores the ways in which Hebron’s past continues to inform its tumultuous present, and illuminates the lives of the people at the heart of the most intractable conflict in the world.
The City of Abraham is a journey through one of the world’s most divided cities – Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side.
It begins with a hill called Tel Rumeida, the site of ancient Hebron, where the patriarch Abraham – father of the Jews and the Arabs – was supposed to have lived when he arrived in the Promised Land. Platt tells the history of the hill and the city in which it stands, shares the stories of residents and settlers, and illuminates the mythic roots of the struggle to control the land.
Through a mixture of travel writing, reportage and interviews, The City of Abraham explores the ways in which Hebron’s past continues to inform its tumultuous present.
As the world's eyes turn to Brazil for the kickoff of the 2014 World Cup, Aleksandar Hemon reminds us of a sad fact: "an average life seldom contains more than twenty World Cups—our games are tragically numbered." We need to pay attention, to absorb the joy, the skill, the agony, the triumph, the beauty—everything that soccer is. And soccer is, of course, everything.
In these pages, Hemon revisits memories of his first World Cup (1974), for which his then homeland, Yugoslavia, qualified in dramatic fashion—only to quickly lose their way out of the tournament. He takes us through the World Cups of the eighties, nineties, up through South Africa in 2010—and to the brink of the 2014 World Cup, which is a special one for Hemon: the first time in the country's history that Bosnia and Herzegovina has qualified.
Played out on the world stage—both in the World Cup and in soccer's international professional leagues—soccer is a high-stakes enterprise full of extreme passion, extreme talent, extreme money, and often extreme politics. But Hemon is also quick to point out that a game of soccer requires only a reasonably flat surface, a sufficiently round object, and someone to show up, and he regales us with stories of the heated games of his youth in Sarajevo's gravel courtyards, of the frozen pick-up games of his adulthood in Chicago, and now, of his daughter's slightly less intense soccer practices, replete with cones and shin guards.
Hemon has been celebrated far and wide for his fiction and essays, but here he takes on what is truly his lifelong, animating passion: soccer. It's more than a sport, it's certainly not "exercise," and it's not even enough to say soccer is life (as Shankly pointed out). Soccer is, in fact, the beautiful game—and never more so than in these pages. Even if, despite all of America's best efforts, Hemon still occasionally insists on calling it "football."