For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“The Noble Truths of Suffering”

Aleksandar Hemon


Some weeks before, I had received an invitation from the United States Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina, His Excellency Eliot Auslander, to join him in honoring Richard Macalister, a Pulitzer Prize winner and acclaimed author. The invitation had been sent to my Sarajevo address only a week or so after I had arrived. I could not figure out how the Embassy had known I was there, though I had a few elaborately paranoid ideas. It troubled me greatly that I could be located so easily, for I had come to Sarajevo for shelter. My plan was to stay at my parents’ apartment for a few months and forget about the large number of things (the war on terror, my divorce, my breakdown, everything) that had been tormenting me in Chicago. My parents were already in Sarajevo for their annual spring stay, and my sister would be joining us soon. The escape to Sarajevo was beginning to feel like a depleted déjà vu of our life before we had all emigrated. We were exactly where we had been before the war, but everything was fantastically different: we were different; the neighbors were fewer and different; the hallway smell was different; and the kindergarten we used to see from our window was now a ruin that nobody had bothered to raze.

I wasn’t going to go to the reception; I had had enough of America and Americans to last me another lousy lifetime.

We read it in Love and Obstacles.