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Love and Obstacles

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  1,114 Ratings  ·  145 Reviews
From the celebrated author of the bestselling Lazarus Project "a dazzling collection of stories ... further cementing [Hemon's] position among the finest fiction writers working in English" (GQ).

The stories of Aleksandar Hemon's Love and Obstacles are united by their narrator, a young man coming of age in Communist-but-cosmopolitan Sarajevo who will leave for the United S
Kindle Edition, 225 pages
Published (first published 2008)
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Aug 26, 2009 Allycks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aleksandar-hemon
New Yorker: How much of your work is autobiographical Mr. Hemon?

AH: “Here’s how it works: Last night, on my way to give a reading, I hurt a ligament in my right hand while putting my shoe on. As I was driving this morning and talking on the phone with my sister in London, I lost my grip and sideswept my neighbor’s car. Being honest, I went to their house to tell them what I had done. When I rang the bell nobody answered. I knocked and went in anyway, thinking they might be in the backyard. The h
Sep 11, 2013 Moeen rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-story
2015 was definitely the year of Aleksandar Hemon. I got obsessed with everything he wrote. Reading four books of him (including his memoir, The Book of My Lives) I could see how he narrates same stories/themes in different forms, with plain and somewhat Nabokovian language, unexpected humor, and how he (a Bosnian immigrant writer struggling to find his me-here in US and to move on from his me-there in Bosnia) is everywhere in his books, in every single characters.
Love and Obstacles is his second
Feb 22, 2017 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europe, 2017
Do sięgnięcia po tę książkę skusił mnie kraj pochodzenia autora. Hemon jest Bośniakiem, który opuścił swoją ojczyznę jeszcze przed wojną. Jako stypendysta zamieszkał w Chicago i tam już pozostał.

Love and Obstacles to zbiór ośmiu opowiadań. W pierwszym z nich Hemon wspomina Conrada - emigranta, który pisał po angielsku. To odwołanie ściśle związane jest z autorem, także on tworzy w tym języku - na pozór zasymilowany z amerykańskim społeczeństwem, w swoich opowiadaniach ciągle wraca do Bośni. Każ
Milica Chotra
Jul 30, 2012 Milica Chotra rated it liked it
This book came to me at a very strange time, when I was thinking a lot about my own writing, shortly after having read Calvino's "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler" that had started all this mess (in a positive way, if there can be such a thing, a "good mess"). Feels weird... I'm not sure what I read - a collection of short stories or fragments of a novel? Is this fiction or an autobiography? And where do we draw the line? Isn't there a bit of us in everything we produce, and a bit of "creative ...more
Jun 24, 2009 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a young writer, Aleksander Hemon has already accumulated a lifetime of writer accolades: he’s a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant recipient, he’s been a Guggenheim fellow, and both of his recent books (“The Lazarus Project” and “Nowhere Man”) have been short-listed for the National Book Award. So expectations for “Love and Obstacles,” a collection of short stories, was high. Aleksander Hemon did not disappoint.

It takes a little while to immerse yourself in the autobiographical world of Bosn
Jul 14, 2015 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I couldn’t put this one down. Hemon writes in a superbly plain language with an understated humor. He also has displays a nuanced masculinity: a tough, blunt, directness, with a degree of genuine self-deprecation. Part of the latter involves his own ambivalence about his identity as a writer. The last story in the collection is about a hilarious, near malicious attitude toward another writer celebrity. This story, like the others, is semi-autobiographical. Hemon in the New York Review of Books a ...more
Who knew I could get so bored by a Hemon collection of short stories? I've heard him speak; I've loved the work he's presented on stage, yet I can't wait for this book to be over already.

The material isn't dull. I like the tales o exiles and immigrants and the gloriously observed bizarrerie of the America that they are confronted with. It's just a bit cold, this book. Very intellectualized, somewhat choked emotionally.

Yawn. I already know enough men like that. Don't need them to be my narrators.
Jun 09, 2011 Jeruen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not like this. And the main reason for this dislike is the fact that I cannot wrap my head around it.

The thing is, I was very much confused as to the nature of this book. It was a collection of stories, and yet the stories were linked with each other, in fact, too linked to each other that I am not sure whether this is a novel or not. The whole collection of stories sounded like several chapters of a novel about this one person.

Now the other disturbing thing is that this book claims to be
William Herschel
The guy's being compared to Nabokov, how could I not give his work a try? Love And Obstacles is short, containing eight short-stories with set similarities and recurring themes. Each protagonist is an immigrant to the United States from Bosnia, and there's always a poet/writer. Sounding rather familiar, Mr. Hemon; Mr. Nabokov?

Most of the stories also center around The Bosnian War and male adolescence. "In Hemon's hands, seemingly mundane childhood experiences become daring, dramatic adventures,
Bob H
In this remarkable work, a series of linked, episodic short stories, the narrator tells a series of tales of his alienated youth, somewhat in the mode of Catcher in the Rye, though it jumps in time and locale in a way that evokes Slaughterhouse Five. He always seems to be out of place, and feeling it, whether in the Congo (his father is on a diplomatic mission), or in the Yugoslavia-that-was (his father sends him to Slovenia to buy a freezer), or in Chicago, where he is stranded in 1991 by the s ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book for maybe the same reasons others did not. The protagonist is not always a likable or admirable character, yet he is unmistakably human and fallible in the best possible way. "How can you write a book - how can you write a single goddamn sentence - without getting angry? I wondered. How do you even wake up in the morning without getting angry? I get angry in my dreams and wake up furious..." How can you not identify with that passion? Making use of an extensive vocabulary that ...more
Bookmarks Magazine
"""Steeped ... in male ego [and] sexuality"" (Houston Chronicle), Hemon's wry, robust, and entertaining stories bring to light the immigrant's hunger for identity -- caught between two worlds but truly belonging to neither -- and the writer's hunger for validation. Poised between two worlds himself, Hemon's vantage point and marvelous flair for the English language yield deliciously sardonic cultural observations and ask insightful questions about the meaning of family and home. Critics were esp ...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
There is something of The Emperor's New Clothes about the serendipitous juxtapositions of Hemon's itinerent prose: many of his metaphors have the unconvincing quality of non-sequiturs and these stories are doubly troublesome because the bulk of them seem like underworked fragments discarded from larger pieces rather than having the inexorable nature necessary for the best short stories.
Jul 14, 2010 Amber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was not expecting to like this book so much. It's a collection of "coming of age" short stories told from the perspective of a teenager/young man who moves to the United States from Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The stories are artfully written and thought provoking. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Sep 11, 2009 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2009
This book oozes testosterone. It is a set of loosely linked stories about an immigrant from Sarajevo - beautifully written, but some of the subject matter is violent so I would hesitate recommending to all. Hard to imagine that English is not Hemon's first language.
Jul 11, 2010 Haris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hemon's stories keep covering the same subject matter, but they're as well written as ever. This particular collection gets better as it goes along and ends with the best story in the set.
Mar 09, 2010 Dragana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
apparently no obstacle to publication when 6 of 8 stories previously appeared in the new yorker; no obstacle to love that author is snotty, anti-american and coarse-mouthed. awesome writing!
Jun 25, 2009 Patricia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hemon's style knocks me out. His language and syntax read like poetry. The situations in this collection of stories have a lurking dread just off screen somewhere.
Jun 21, 2012 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hemon writes beautifully. And to think that English is his second language. Amazes me. Still, there was a bit of a sameness to these stories, not so much in subject as in mood.
U.R. Bowie
Help Wanted: New Narrator

I’ve read all of Aleksandar Hemon’s books. They have been blurbed and reviewed by the most enthusiastic of blurbers and reviewers: “dazzling, astonishingly creative prose” with “remarkable, haunting autobiographical elements.” The latest Hemon offering, Love and Obstacles, is a series of short stories, most of which continue in Hemon’s now familiar reminiscent strain. They amount to a kind of Bildungsroman, the story of a guy from Sarajevo who comes to America—in a word
Dan Keating
Jan 04, 2014 Dan Keating rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aleksandar Hemon's "Love and Obstacles" is a collection of short stories which are all tied together by the same (or at least a very, very similar) narrator. This is my first experience with Hemon, whom my wife is very fond of, so I wasn't sure going in what to expect.

What I got was a superbly written, and morally and emotionally ambiguous, journey through the human psyche. While Hemon writes about displacement - echoing one of Nabokov's most enduring themes - which no doubt stems from his own d
Maya Lang
Apr 25, 2017 Maya Lang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once you've read Hemon's nonfiction work, especially "The Book of My Lives" (which I think is the best thing he's written), you recognize his life in his fiction. He's telling the same stories about his own life over and over, barely disguised. While they're told well, they become predictable: "Oh, right, here's one about that safari trip. Here's one about going door-to-door in Chicago." The stories are beautifully written, with humor and intelligence, but they never get past themselves. It's li ...more
Kirsten Simkiss
Apr 16, 2016 Kirsten Simkiss rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
If I could give half stars, I would probably give it 2.5 stars.

While the book is made up of separate stories, they all are stories about the same nameless character - a Sarajevan boy who emigrates to Chicago in his adulthood. Each story has it's own separate place in the young man's life, each on a different topic and scarcely referencing one another as if they were in different realities almost.

But I do have to say, all of these stories are like retellings of a bittersweet memory and I really d
Jul 30, 2015 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“...the next task. Which was to push apart the two curls parenthesizing his forehead” (5).
“...Sestra guarded her budding sovereignty with her Walkman turned way up…” (6).
“We sat in their receiving room, the adults passing around statements (‘Kinshasa is strange’; ‘Kinshasa is small’) like a sugar bowl” (7).
“I understood what Conrad meant by inhabited devastation” (15).
“...skinned mongrel creatures that seemed to have been slapped together in hell” (16).
“...tear gems forming in the corners of her
Aug 06, 2015 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories initially frustrated me because of its relentless post-modernism--I almost quit half-way through--but I'm glad I stuck with it. There are memorable things on almost every page; but the endless ironic playing with What is real? What is fiction? Is this true? Or truthy? Or entirely fantasy? What can we know? always irritates me. This collection, at last, seems to rise above all that and actually be asserting something, and in spite of the sadness and despair of a B ...more
Jul 12, 2011 Cecilia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great short stories with something autobiographically Hemon on every page. Settings vary: Africa, the States, Bosnia before and after the war. As we read the stories the author figures in them to varying degrees. And the war seeps into each story in the collection. In "Everything" we board the train with him and he's a pimply, underconfident teenager sent on a mission to purchase a freezer for the family. In "American Commando", we go back further in time to when he's a boy playing at war with ...more
I couldn't wrap my head around it, i was reading and anticipating something to happen, but there was absolutely nothing.
in short, a dull diary written in a fancy language.
Alfonso D'agostino

Questa è la storia di un libro che ho appena finito e di uno che ancora devo leggere.

E questo qui sopra è Aleksandar Hemon, uno scrittore bosniaco dal talento cristallino e una misteriosa capacità di incontrarti. “Amore e ostacoli”, la raccolta di racconti che mi ha accompagnato negli ultimi giorni, è una antologia che presenta una serie di Storie evidentemente collegate al vissuto di un autore costretto alla fuga da un conflitto imminente, ma che non si è mai rifugiato dietro al semplice cliché
Peter Korchnak
Emigration is hardest when it’s involuntary and when you cannot return to your country of origin.

Alexandar Hemon, a native of Bosnia and now a Chicagoan, has based his career as a fiction writer on this theme. When he was visiting the States in the early 1990′s with a journalism education program, the war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, his hometown Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return.

The theme carries the short stories in "Love and Obstacles," tracing a single protagonist
N Kalyan
Apr 29, 2013 N Kalyan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am reading a collection of stories, “Love and Obstacles” by Aleksandar Hemon, a very special writer. Hemon was born in Sarajevo in former Yugoslavia and was already a Bosnian writer when he found himself in the United States in 1992, just prior to the outbreak of war in Sarajevo, his beloved native city. There he learnt English as an adult, much like Nabakov and Conrad, and began writing fiction in English that was good enough to be published steadily in the prestigious New Yorker magazine.

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  • Once the Shore
  • Do Not Deny Me
  • Nothing Right
  • We Others: New and Selected Stories
  • The View from the Seventh Layer
  • Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing
  • More of This World or Maybe Another
  • What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us
  • American Salvage
  • The Collected Stories
  • Don't Cry
  • Natasha and Other Stories
  • Among the Missing
  • My Father's Tears and Other Stories
  • The Sky Below
  • Vanishing and Other Stories
  • Like You'd Understand, Anyway
  • Collected Stories
Hemon graduated from the University of Sarajevo with a degree in literature in 1990. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1992 and found that he was unable to write in Bosnian and spoke little English.

In 1995, he started writing works in English and managed to showcase his work in prestigious magazines such as the New Yorker and Esquire. He is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist f
More about Aleksandar Hemon...

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“Time does nothing but hand you down shabbier and older things.” 6 likes
“We knew - but didn't want to know - what was going to happen, the sky descending upon our heads like the shadow of a falling piano in a cartoon.” 5 likes
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