The World and All That It Holds
by Aleksandar Hemon
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Pub Date 24 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 28 Feb 2023
The World and All That It Holds—in all its hilarious, heartbreaking, erotic, philosophical glory—showcases Aleksandar Hemon’s celebrated talent at its pinnacle. It is a grand, tender, sweeping story that spans decades and continents. It cements Hemon as one of the boldest voices in fiction.
As Archduke Franz Ferdinand arrives in Sarajevo one June day in 1914, Rafael Pinto is busy crushing herbs and grinding tablets behind the counter at the pharmacy he inherited from his estimable father. It’s not quite the life he had expected during his poetry-filled student days in libertine Vienna, but it’s nothing a dash of laudanum from the high shelf, a summer stroll, and idle fantasies about passersby can’t put in perspective.
And then the world explodes. In the trenches in Galicia, fantasies fall flat. Heroism gets a man killed quickly. War devours all that they have known, and the only thing Pinto has to live for are the attentions of Osman, a fellow soldier, a man of action to complement Pinto’s introspective, poetic soul; a charismatic storyteller; Pinto’s protector and lover.
Together, Pinto and Osman will escape the trenches, survive near-certain death, tangle with spies and Bolsheviks. Over mountains and across deserts, from one world to another, all the way to Shanghai, it is Pinto’s love for Osman—with the occasional opiatic interlude—that keeps him going.
"The World and All That It Holds is a twisting, turning epic rooted in love in all its forms; an odyssey of statelessness; a haunted museum of history ranging from Sarajevo to Shanghai and Jerusalem; and an apothecary of wit, folklore and unexpectable sentences. This life-stuffed novel is Aleksandar Hemon’s masterpiece.”
—DAVID MITCHELL, author of Cloud Atlas
"The World and All that It Holds is an explosive novel. Bursting with energy, wits, and insights, it’s an epic meditation on history, philosophy, and human conditions. Aleksandar Hemon once again proves him to be one of our most innovative and invigorating novelists."
—YIYUN LI, author of The Book of Goose
“Aleksandar Hemon’s The World and All That It Holds is one of the finest novels I’ve ever read, and like all great stories, it refuses to be pigeonholed. It’s a road novel, an immigrant tale, a ghost story, a family portrait, a mystery, a historical epic, a war novel, and yes, a love story—it is all that and more, a feat of unfettered literary bravura. In short, a masterpiece.”
—RABIH ALAMEDDINE, author of The Wrong End of the Telescope
"Hemonites rejoice! The master is back and he has forged a remarkable tale of love and war alongside his own 20th Century Silk Road. From Sarajevo to Shanghai, every sentence, every paragraph is a sensuous and often hilarious delight. Not a Hemonite yet? I envy you your very first encounter with one of the world's greatest writers."
—GARY SHTEYNGART, author of Our Country Friends