By Troy Patterson
Updated September 27, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

There is no escaping invocations of Nabokov. In the snap of its storytelling and the half-brutal, half-brotherly hue of its tales of exile, Hemon’s follow-up to 2000’s The Question of Bruno measures up to the early work of the master. Hemon starts boldly: A Bosnia-born narrator — his English a spew of whacked metaphors — spies Jozef Pronek, a boyhood acquaintance, in a Chicago ESL class. Then a sportily refined voice comes in to deliver Jozef’s biography — the 1967 birth, the blossoming brain, the first love (”They clumsily danced, like infatuated zombies, avoiding bodily contact, yet craving it”), the 1992 flight to America. Then we hop back in time with another speaker and keep happily hopping thereafter. Per Lennon/McCartney, Nowhere Man doesn’t have a point of view. In reply, Hemon executes sly tricks of perspective and turns out an affecting portrait.

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