Thursday, March 11, 2021

Review: My Heart

My Heart My Heart by Semezdin Mehmedinović
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Heart is a work of autobiographical fiction told in three sections - one about his heart attack, one in the form of an illustrated travel diary to his son, and one to his wife as she battles an illness. Themes include aging, PTSD from living through the siege in Sarajevo, displacement, memory, etc. It reminds me most of To Be a Man by Nicole Kraus and the Deborah Levy/ Rachel Cusk style of writing, and yes it's interesting to me that the authors he reminds me of are all female.

This is my first experience with this author but I understand him to be well loved across the former Yugoslavia. I will count the book for Bosnia in my Europe2021 project although all of it takes place after and away from there. It has clearly had an impact on all of them, especially in his son, who seems to have blocked memories of the war - "When I remind you of an event from the war, your memory becomes unreliable and vague. You suppress the war into oblivion."

"Books are lonelier than people."

There is a random section about the makadam (in his language), then he riffs on John Loudon McAdam, who just happens to be one of my ancestors, somewhat bizarre to encounter him here.

"Over the course of the last twenty years that I've lived here [in the USA], I've been able to monitor the way America has been closing up, screening itself from the outside world. It used not to be like this. When people heard a foreign language on the subway, at the airport, or like this, in a restaurant, it would arouse their curiosity, not aversion, certainly not fear. Twenty years is a long time, people pass on and worlds change. Foreigners are no longer welcome here."

This has recently been translated into English by Celia Hawkesworth and came out from Catapult on Tuesday, March 9th; the publisher was lovely to send me the book for my perusal.

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