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Introduction & Overview of Islands

Aleksandar Hemon
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Islands Summary & Study Guide Description

Islands Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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When Aleksandar Hemon traveled to Chicago from his native Bosnia in 1992 on a brief cultural visa, he did not expect to become a prominent and successful writer in English within six years. This is what he did, however, immigrating to the United States as a refugee when war broke out in Bosnia-Herzegovina (one of the former Yugoslavian states) and mastering the English language. Hemon began to write semi-autobiographical short stories characterized by a frank and immediate voice, often dealing with political themes, including the war in the former Yugoslavia and with Yugoslavian history. Sophisticated and striking, his stories brought him nearly immediate recognition as an important and gifted writer.

One of these stories, entitled "Islands," is steeped in the rich history of 1970s Yugoslavia, before the dictator Marshal Tito died and the region fell into instability and civil war. In it, a young boy from Sarajevo, Bosnia, travels to a Croatian island with his parents in order to vacation at his Uncle Julius's house. Deeply affected by his uncle's stories about Joseph Stalin's Soviet labor camps of the 1940s, the young narrator becomes self-conscious about his place in politics and society. "Islands" is composed of thirty-three short scenes that comment on themes ranging from memory and childhood trauma to self-consciousness and the concept of authority. Originally published in the spring 1998 edition of Ploughshares, the story was reprinted as the opening tale of Hemon's debut collection of short fiction, The Question of Bruno (2000).

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