The Lazarus Project

The Lazarus Project

by Aleksandar Hemon


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The only novel from MacArthur Genius Award winner, Aleksandar Hemon — the National Book Critics Circle Award winning The Lazarus Project.

On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, an Eastern European Jewish immigrant, was shot to death on the doorstep of the Chicago chief of police and cast as a would-be anarchist assassin.

A century later, a young Eastern European writer in Chicago named Brik becomes obsessed with Lazarus's story. Brik enlists his friend Rora-a war photographer from Sarajevo-to join him in retracing Averbuch's path.

Through a history of pogroms and poverty, and a prism of a present-day landscape of cheap mafiosi and even cheaper prostitutes, the stories of Averbuch and Brik become inextricably intertwined, creating a truly original, provocative, and entertaining novel that confirms Aleksandar Hemon, often compared to Vladimir Nabokov, as one of the most dynamic and essential literary voices of our time.

From the author of The Book of My Lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594483752
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/05/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 462,361
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, Love and Obstacles, The Question of Bruno, Nowhere Man and The Book of My Lives. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Genius Award, the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature, the PEN/W. G. Sebald Award, and, most recently, a 2012 USA Fellowship. He lives in Chicago.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A masterful new novel. . . Ingenious. . .Hemon is as much a writer of the senses as of the intellect."
-Washington Post Book Review

"Incandescent. When your eyes close, the power of this novel, of Hemon's colossal talent, remains."
-Junot Dfaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

"Hemon is immensely talented-a natural storyteller and a poet, a maker of amazing, gorgeous sentences in what is his second language."
-Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Remarkable, and remarkably entertaining." -The New York Times Book Review "A physical, historical, and pre-eminently psychological journey."
-San Francisco Chronicle

"Stunning...[a] vivid novel...wildly palpably real."
-Boston Globe

"A measured, clear spotlight of injustice, made all the more eloquent by the prickly humor of the author."
-Los Angeles Times

"Hemon's writing sometimes reminds one of Nabokov's...yet the feat of his reinvention exceeds the Russian's."
-James Wood, The New Yorker

"A profoundly moving novel...A literary page-turner that combines narrative momentum with meditations on identity and mortality."
-Kirkus Reviews.

Customer Reviews

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Lazarus Project 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
mikevail on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Lazarus Project is about a struggling,modern day Bosnian writer researching the 1908 murder of a Jewish immigrant named Lazarus Averbach by a Chicago police chief. Vladmir Brik, the writer, is the narrator of the story and the action is filtered through his experience. The chapters of the book alternate between the telling of Lazarus' killing and its effect on his sister and friend, and Brik's half-hearted attempt to research and write the story. The major theme of this book seems to be the difficulty for foreigners in adapting to American life and overcoming racial bigotry and fear. It is easy to see the similarities between 1908 Chicago and 21st century Chicago. Both eras suffer from mistrust and misinformation about alien cultures and the practice of terrorism. Ultimately the book is about violence and death and how they are universal for human beings regardless of time and circumstance. The Lazarus Project is both desperate and depressing at times but always maintains interest
sonyau on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel beautifully entwines the barbarism of early 20th Century Chicago with the barbarism of Bosnian ethnic cleansing. The narrative is gorgeous and harrowing, calling into question the notion of national identity, homeland, and the clash of cultures. Perception, in this work, is everything, yet makes clear that what we experience is only part of the whole story.
Zisi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've always been drawn to writers for whom English is a second language. The best have a fresh, off-beat perspective and bring a renewed vigor to English. (Think: Conrad, Nabokov, Vikram Chandra, Salmon Rushdie, Gary Shteyngart.) I also find translations, no matter how good, frustrating, so reading foreign-born authors in their original language (English!) is exciting and liberating. Hemon, who was born in Bosnia and is now a U.S. citizen, is a master stylist, a great storyteller, and deserves the accolades he's received. Highly recommended.
ExVivre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Lazarus Project is a story of two Chicago immigrants: a turn-of-the-century Ukrainian Jew, Lazarus, who is killed by the chief of police under mysterious circumstances, and a Bosnian writer of modern times, Brik, who discovers Lazarus' story while doing research. Brik's digging leads him back into post-Soviet Eastern Europe in search of Lazarus' past and his own. The unfolding of their intertwined stories is a brilliant meditation on immigration, home, love, war, and the tarnish on America's streets of gold. It's one of the best works of fiction I've read this year.
catalogthis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So, I missed the book club meeting for this selection, but I did finish the book. For once.The Lazarus Project has some really wonderful language, but the structure sometimes came off as contrived. It reminded me of the movie Adaptation, which is the fictionalization (word? not a word?) of Charlie Kaufman's failed attempt to write a screen adaptation of The Orchid Thief. Both Kaufman and Hemon manage to insert themselves (but not really! one or two personal details have changed!) into a story about someone else entirely, wrenching the spotlight away from where it belongs. Not everything is about you, boys.In the case of The Lazarus Project, the spotlight should have stayed on Lazarus Averbuch and his sister Olga. Especially Olga, I wish Hemon had given us more of her. He writes grief well. Whatever issues I had with the book, I still recommend it, mostly because of the last 25 pages or so. And definitely take note of the illustrations, half of which are photographs reproduced from the Chicago Daily News collection at the Chicago Historical Society (yay, archives!).
TigsW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book had real potential but somehow failed to reach it. The makings of a really good story were there and sometimes I thought it was going to break through but it never really did. It ended up being rather aimless and the two main plots of Lazarus and Brik were really interesting but insufficient information and depth was achieved on both. Disappointing.
yooperprof on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Chicagoan Aleksandar Hemon, Bosnian by birth, is one of those disgustingly gifted "furreners" (Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov, et al.) who dare to write in English even though it's not their native tongue. Hemon is a refugee from the 1990s war which accompanied the break-up of Yugoslavia - a conflict which ravaged his home city of Sarajevo. The novel touches on issues of immigration, anarchism, post-traumatic stress, decaying eastern europe, post-modern narrative strategies. . . There's a lot going on in 300 pages."The Lazarus Project" tells two interlocking stories, one of a real-life early 20th century Jewish immigrant to Chicago named Lazarus Averbuch, killed in 1908 by the city's chief of police in circumstances that can only be described as bizarre. That tale is interwoved with that of Vladimir Brik, who is a Chicagoan in the early 21st century, one of those disgustingly gifted "furreners" who dare to write in English even though it's not their native tongue. Brik, who is working on a book about Lazarus Averbuch, is a "double" for Hemon himself, very similar but not the same. Hemon likes games and playfulness in his narrative: mirrors and echoes and "doppelgangers". "Lazarus Project" has brilliant passages of taut prose, is ingenuously plotted, and has a strong rootedness in a little-known but fascinating period of american urban history. I really liked the use of photographs, some from early 20th century Chicago, some from contemporary eastern europe. My two reservations: Brik, the narrator, is very unreliable (and rather difficult to endure, if you ask me); and the story of his marriage is under-developed. Vladimir Brik comes across as a selfish artist with tremendous internalized self-hatred, but his beautiful neurosurgeon wife supposedly puts up with him anyway. I didn't buy it. But the book works well in other regards, and I'll be following Hemon's career in the future.
Laura400 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a marvelous and affecting novel that moves between the early 20th Century and the present day, between Chicago and Eastern Europe. Sometimes funny, sometimes terribly sad, and always intelligent.
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Annegirl85 More than 1 year ago
This tops my list of worst books, ever! It's right up there with the repetitive, inane waste of time that is Bram Stoker's Dracula. I bought this book because I love stories where historical mysteries are solved. And the premise was very interesting. Sadly, this book was not at all about the mystery being solved, but rather about a listless, man rambling about Europe kind of trying to figure out what happened but mostly just drinking and smoking and talking to boring losers like himself. Worst part was, I forced myself to continue reading it because I figured I would at least derive some satisfaction from finding out what happened with the mystery. Wrong! The end of the book was missing. The copy I'd bought just had the previous five chapters recopied, so no ending. I had thrown away the receipt, so I couldn't return it. The people at B&N kindly said I could exchange it for a complete copy of the book, but at that point I just didn't care any more.
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The writing in this book is very good. It has interesting story lines, though they look a bit to get into.
Wordzmind More than 1 year ago
The book is not great but did have some enjoyable moments. The story of a man writing a book and the book that he wrote. Good for rainy days.
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