Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
My Prisoner

My Prisoner

Essay by Aleksandar Hemon; Art by Velibor Bozovic

FSG Originals



When Aleksandar Hemon and Velibor Božovic became friends as teenagers in Sarajevo, it was, in Hemon's words, "pretty clear that our friendship was for life, even if we could have no notion of what lay ahead of us."
In the coming years, it became clear that their future was going to be entirely unlike anything they might have imagined. Their beloved city was ripped to shreds by ethnic violence, its citizens suffering the longest siege in the history of modern warfare. Hemon was trapped abroad, in Chicago, when the siege began, and unable to return home, he watched in despair, alone and helpless, as the war unfolded in headlines and TV dispatches. Božovic, meanwhile, was trapped in Sarajevo with his family. As the conflict accelerated, he was conscripted into the Bosnian Army-even as his father, who had served in the Yugoslav People's Army since long before their country split apart, was being held in a Bosnian POW camp.

In his essay "My Prisoner," Hemon tells Božovic's story of life in Sarajevo during the siege. His account revolves around one particular incident in the middle of the war when Božovic was offered the chance to visit his father in the POW camp-though not, of course, without an onerous quid pro quo.

Almost twenty years later, in 2012, Hemon and Božovic are still friends for life. Hemon is now a writer in Chicago; Božovic is a photographer in Montreal. Hemon has traveled to Canada with his daughter to see his friend's art installation, My Prisoner, about that wartime reunion with his father. In this special ebook edition, both versions of "My Prisoner" are presented together. The result is a unique and extraordinary literary and artistic experience.

Note: Hemon's essay appears in the Picador paperback and ebook editions of The Book of My Lives. Božovic's My Prisoner appears only in this enhanced ebook.


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About the author

Essay by Aleksandar Hemon; Art by Velibor Bozovic

Aleksandar Hemon is the author of the novel The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction-and which includes photographs by Velibor Božovic ; a book of essays, The Book of My Lives, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography; and three books of short stories: The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction; and Love and Obstacles. He was the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship and a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation. His new novel, The Making of Zombie Wars, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in May 2015. He lives in Chicago.
Velibor Božovic was in his twenties when his hometown of Sarajevo became a war zone and was under siege for more than a thousand days. In 1999, he moved to Montreal where he worked for eight years as an engineer in the aerospace industry before abandoning that career to devote himself to art. Božovic holds a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts (Photography) (2015) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography (2011) from Concordia University. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the2015 Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Fellowships in Contemporary Art, the 2014 Concordia International Mobility Award, the 2012 Bourse de Maîtrise en Recherche from the Fonds de recherche société et culture (FQRSC), and the 2011 Roloff Beny Foundation Fellowship in Photography. His work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States, Cuba, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and his photographs have appeared in various international media, including The Paris Review, The New York Times, Descant, International Herald Tribune, Granta and the Chicago Tribune.

Aleksandar Hemon

Velibor Božovic

Velibor Bozovic