Book excerpt: “The World and All That It Holds” by Aleksandar Hemon



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The Bosnian American writer Aleksandar Hemon was a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for his 2008 novel “The Lazarus Project,” in regards to the police killing of an immigrant youth in Chicago within the early twentieth century.

His newest novel, “The World and All That It Holds” (MCD), is the daring story of an apothecary in 1914 Sarajevo who witnesses the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and is swept up within the calamitous occasions of World War I.

Read an excerpt beneath.   

“The World and All That It Holds” by Aleksandar Hemon (Hardcover)

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THE HOLY ONE stored creating worlds and destroying them, creating worlds and destroying them, after which, simply earlier than giving up, He lastly got here up with this one. And it could possibly be a lot worse, this world and all that it holds, as I definitely know the right way to get my fingers on some attention-grabbing stuff round right here. Let’s see: LAPIS INFERNALIS, LAUDANUM, subsequent to it, LAVENDER.

Pinto took the laudanum off the shelf, knocking over the lavender tin, which miraculously didn’t break open when it hit the ground. He launched a drop of laudanum onto a sugar lump, watched the brown stain bloom, then positioned it in his mouth. While the sugar and bitterness dissolved on his tongue, he picked up the lavender, dipped his nostril into the tin, and inhaled—huge Mediterranean flower fields stretched inside him, the blue sea lapping at his soul, a turquoise sky and swallows floating above all of it, the laudanum crusing on his blood all the best way to his thoughts, after which past. To all of the issues created at twilight on the Šabat eve, the Lord correctly added laudanum, simply to assist make the whole lot extra lovely and bearable.

Now was Rafael Pinto a lot better ready for the Archduke Franz Ferdinand von Österreich-Este, Heir Apparent to the Habsburg Empire and Inspector General of the Imperial Armed Forces, and for the entire spectacle he was bringing to Sarajevo simply to see how we dwell right here. We dwell quite nicely, Your Highness, I need to say, supplied there’s sufficient laudanum and lavender available, thank You very a lot for Your variety concern. And since that is an enterprise of offering treatment for the physique as a lot as for the soul, we’re positive to have loads of no matter we would want, lengthy dwell the Emperor, the Lord be praised, and bless You too.

From “The World and All That It Holds” by Aleksandar Hemon. Copyright © 2023 by Aleksandar Hemon. Reprinted with permission of MCD, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC.

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“The World and All That It Holds” by Aleksandar Hemon (Hardcover)

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