A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
"Intelligent, honest, and full of heart," My Heart is an intimate work of autobiographical fiction by one of ex-Yugoslavia's greatest writers about his family's experience as refugees from the Bosnian war—a timeless story of love, memory, and the resilience of the human spirit that "has all the qualities one might seek in a friend" (Etgar Keret, author of The Seven Goods Years).
"Today, it seems, was the day I was meant to die." When a writer suffers a heart attack at the age of fifty, he must confront his mortality in a country that is not his native home. Confined to a hospital bed and overcome by a sense of powerlessness, he reflects on the fragility of life and finds extraordinary meaning in the quotidian. In this affecting autobiographical novel, Semezdin Mehmedinovic explores the love he and his family have for one another, strengthened by trauma; their harrowing experience of the Bosnian war, which led them to flee for the United States as refugees; eerie premonitions of Donald Trump's presidency; the life and work of a writer; and the nature of memory and grief.
Poetically explosive and pure to the core, My Heart serves as a kind of mirror, reflecting our human strengths and weaknesses along with the most important issues on our minds--love and death, the present and the past, sickness and health, leaving and staying.
Bosnian writer Mehmedinovi (Sarajevo Blues) returns with a powerful autofictional gut punch of a novel. "Today, it seems, was the day I was meant to die," says narrator Meh'med about the near-fatal heart attack in his Washington, D.C., apartment in 2010 and his subsequent time spent in the hospital. After surgery and rehab, Meh'med feels compelled to revisit the first place he lived in the U.S. after he fled Sarajevo in 1996 during the Bosnian War, so he and his adult son, Harun, head to Phoenix. While tension brews between them, Meh'med finds comfort in their silent moments together, and in sharing their memories. After Meh'med's wife, Sanja, has a stroke, Meh'med remembers how she'd been his savior, standing between him and a rifle barrel in Sarajevo, and their combined melancholy as immigrants ("the antagonism of two worlds is the essence of exile"). What they have lost individually and together movingly permeate Meh'med's memories as he cares for Sanja after her stroke. In an introduction, Aleksandar Hemon calls Mehmedinovi his favorite living Bosnian writer, and Mehmedinovi echoes Hemon's work in its moments of playfulness, grace, and wonder as well as its blunt observations about the trauma of war and leaving one's homeland. Few books are this good at capturing an immigrant's sense of loss.