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Public Reading and Discussion of “The World and All That It Holds” at Princeton Public Library

On Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m. Labyrinth Books and Princeton Public Library welcome author Aleksandar Hemon for a discussion of his novel, The World and All That It Holds. The in-person event will be held at Princeton Public Library, but there is also the option to participate remotely through a streaming link.

The World and All That It Holds has been described as a hilarious, heartbreaking, erotic, and philosophical showcase of a war that spanned continents.

As the 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 passerby can’t fix.

And then at once it seems like the world explodes. In the trenches of Galicia, fantasies fall flat. Heroism gets a man killed quickly. War devours every facet of life and the only thing that Pinto has to live for is the attentions of Osman, a fellow soldier.

Together, Pinto and Osman attempt to escape the trenches, survive near-certain death experiences, and tangle with spies and Bolsheviks. Over mountains and across deserts, it’s Pinto’s love for Osman that keeps him going.

Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, of the memoir My Parents: An Introduction / This Does not Belong to You, and of three books of short stories: The Question of BrunoNowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Love and Obstacles. He teaches at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts.

Hemon will be joined in discussion by Simon Morrison, a professor of music history at Princeton University. Morrison specializes in 20th-century Russian and Soviet music with expertise in opera, dance, film, sketch studies, and historically informed performances. His books include Bolshoi Confidential: Secrets of the Russian Ballet from the Rule of the Tsars to TodayThe People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years; and The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev: the Story of Lina and Serge Prokofiev.

This event is free to attend. For additional information, visit Princeton Public Library is located at 65 Witherspoon Street in Princeton.