Arman Haveric is a sophomore at the University of Michigan. "Foosball in the Former Yugoslavia" is his first piece of published writing.
"Foosball in the Former Yugoslavia" will appear in the Spring 2018 issue of Carve. Preorder or subscribe by Sunday, April 1, for special savings and discounts.
Note from the Nonfiction Editor:
Arman Haveric is one of our youngest contributors, and he has tackled a difficult subject: conflict and displacement. Arman’s story examines the siege of Sarajevo through the eyes of his parents and his own life in America, and how those two paths converge and at other times diverge. It is significant that a writer as young as Arman has considered the idea of “home” in this way, and I think the thoughtfulness Arman shows throughout the essay displays a well-developed idea of what writing can do and what it can say. I hope to follow Arman's career as it moves forward.
In “Foosball in the Former Yugoslavia,” you examine the siege of Sarajevo and its impact on your family’s history. When did you start working on this essay, and what has the process been like?
I began writing the essay in May of 2017, the summer following my freshman year of college. I had four months of summer break (the first two of which I was essentially unemployed) and I wanted to undertake some sort of writing project in my spare time. I started the essay with only a vague theme in mind and without knowing where it would go or what it was that I wanted to articulate. The whole thing came together very slowly and sporadically—I’d write a paragraph, revisit it a couple days later, revise it, add a segment, delete a segment, rearrange the segments, and so forth, until one day in August I had 8,000 words of text that had suddenly coalesced into something presentable. There were hundreds of ups and downs throughout the process. Some days I felt like a writing genius; other days I felt like an utter dumbass. It was a long and spastic project, but it’s one I’m incredibly grateful to have gone through.
In the essay, you take on the very difficult task of examining war and conflict, yet doing so through a more literary lens. How did you balance the literary approach against other forms of nonfiction? Were there nonfiction writers that informed your approach?
I took a creative nonfiction seminar in my senior year of high school that exposed me to many really remarkable essayists, and which taught me the power of literary nonfiction writing in general. I took a lot of inspiration from the writers Yiyun Li and Anthony Doerr, whose essays do an incredible job of blending the poetic elements of fiction writing with the rigidity and honesty required of any memoir. Achieving that balance in my writing definitely wasn’t easy—there were some segments of the essay that I agonized over for months trying to achieve the right literary effect. I had to make sure I was being truthful to the story I was telling while also framing it in a way that readers would find appealing.
We are always interested in young writers and their future work. Where do you hope to go with your career, and how has the act of writing informed it?
I’m officially a French language major. I used to want to be a lawyer, and now I’m thinking I’d like to pursue medicine. Regardless of what ends up happening, I do a lot of writing in school and will likely continue to do a lot of writing throughout my career, and after having undertaken a pretty substantial literary project in my essay, I’ve definitely felt myself become better and more efficient at it. I hope to keep writing on the side no matter what it is I end up doing. Like I said, it can be a surprisingly arduous process, and at times a demoralizing one, but as long as you push yourself to actually produce something, it’s always worth it, always.