Synopses & Reviews
In two collections of stories, The Question of Bruno and the NBCC-finalist Nowhere Man, Aleksandar Hemon has earned unmatched literary acclaim and a reputation as one of the English languageas most original and moving wordsmiths. In The Lazarus Project, Hemon has turned these talents to an embracing novel that intertwines haunting historical atmosphere and detail with sharp and shimmeringasometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreakingacontemporary storytelling.
On March 2, 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a recent Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe to Chicago, knocked on the front door of the house of George Shippy, the chief of Chicago police. When Shippy came to the door, Averbuch offered him what he said was an important letter. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. When Shippy released a statement casting Averbuch as a would-be anarchist assassin and agent of foreign political operatives, he all but set off a city and a country already simmering with ethnic and political tensions.
Now, in the twenty-first century, a young writer in Chicago, Brik, also from Eastern Europe, becomes obsessed with Lazarusas storyawhat really happened, and why? In order to understand Averbuch, Brik and his friend Roraawho overflows with stories of his life as a Sarajevo war photographeraretrace Averbuchas path across Eastern Europe, through a history of pogroms and poverty, and through a present-day landscape of cheap mafiosi and cheaper prostitutes. The stories of Averbuch and Brik become inextricably entwined, augmented by the photographs that Rora takes on their journey, creating a truly original, provocative, and entertaining novel that willconfirm Hemon once and for all as one of the most dynamic and essential literary voices of our time.
"A profoundly moving novel... A literary page-turner that combines narrative momentum with meditations on identity and mortality. Kirkus Reviews
"Hemon's writing sometimes reminds one of Nabokovs... yet the feat of his reinvention exceeds the Russian's." James Wood, The New Yorker
"Remarkable, and remarkably entertaining." The New York Times Book Review
"A physical, historical, and pre-eminently psychological journey." San Francisco Chronicle
"Intertwining science and heartbreak, the old world and the new, Dasgupta's debut novel Solo highlights a century of social revolution through the powerful story of a 100-year-old blind man. Though Solo tells the story of [Ulrich's] bleak life, it ultimately speaks of tragedy on a broader scale - that of the human condition."
-The Daily Beast
"Ulrich is a textured study in human failure and the wreckage of communism."
-The New York Times
"Dasgupta is a deeply empathetic serious writer... The last section of Solo brims with superb descriptions of folk music and the drunken tale of men and women who are brought together, then driven apart by the fall of Communism."
-The New York Times Book Review
"SOLO is a wonder--an exploration of memory, a window on a country and region mysterious to the West even in the twentieth century, a keen study of human love and failure."
- Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian Solo is "bold, enigmatic, and thought-provoking. ... a richly imagined world... Lucid prose and a narrative scheme both demanding and inchoate reveal a writer beginning to deploy his considerable powers. "
-Publishers Weekly, starred "Intricate and imaginative, a remarkable novel of music and science, politics and passion, that bridges history and modern times. [...] Graceful and unpredictable, a daring and exceptional achievement."
-Kirkus Reviews, starred "A novel of exceptional, astonishing strangeness, Solo confirms Rana Dasgupta as the most unexpected and original Indian writer of his generation."
- Salman Rushdie "The sedimentary structure—layering stories of opportunity and oppression—makes Solo a double pleasure: readers can enjoy Dasguptas imagination but must also confront problems of celebrity and commerce. Part historical fiction, part heartbreak, part pop culture; think Aleksandar Hemon."
- Library Journal "With an intriguing bifurcated storytelling device, this is a novel of dazzling ideas and emotion in which Dasgupta comes to astonishingly beautiful and original conclusions about love, loss, and aging, and his protagonist realizes 'There is far more to us than what we live.'"
"Utterly unforgettable in its humanity."
- The Guardian (UK)
"This gloriously eccentric adventure through a century of Bulgarian history is so much fun to read you'll hardly realise how much you're learning . . . Dasgupta colourfully weaves Ulrich's passions for art, science and his best friend's sister through the two world wars (did you know that, although forced to join the fascist bloc, Tsar Boris III refused to hand over Bulgaria's Jews to Hitler?), the fall of the Bulgarian royal family and the rise of communism. . . . weird, wonderful and warmly wise stuff."
- The Daily Mail (UK)
"Bearing in mind that Dasgupta is a British-Asian author writing about a 100-year-old, blind Bulgarian born at the dawn of the 20th century, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that one of the most notable features of his often beguiling novel is its quivering air of otherness. Confined to his decrepit Sofia home, the hero, Ulrich, begins a soaring flight of the imagination that explores both his past and his country's. . . For as long as the spell remains unbroken, it is worth every second."
- The Sunday Times (UK)
"What a delight to find a novelist unfazed by the 21st century ... This is an important work."
-The Australian "Solo is a nuanced and virtuoso performance."
- Scotland on Sunday
"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."
"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."
The much anticipated novel from MacArthur Award-winning writer Hemon is a story of historical sweep and contemporary insight crafted in a dazzlingly original style. Illustrated.
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.
With an imaginative audacity and lyrical brilliance that puts him in the company of David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, Rana Dasgupta paints a portrait of a century though the story of a hundred-year-old blind Bulgarian man in a first novel that announces the arrival of an exhilarating new voice in fiction.
In the first movement of Solo we meet Ulrich, the son of a railroad engineer, who has two great passions: the violin and chemistry. Denied the first by his father, he leaves for the Berlin of Einstein and Fritz Haber to study the latter. His studies are cut short when his fathers fortune evaporates, and he must return to Sofia to look after his parents. He never leaves Bulgaria again. Except in his daydreamsand it is those dreams we enter in the volatile second half of the book. In a radical leap from past to present, from life lived to life imagined, Dasgupta follows Ulrichs fantasy children, born of communism but making their way into a post-communist world of celebrity and violence.
Intertwining science and heartbreak, the old world and the new, the real and the imagined, Solo is a virtuoso work.
A kaleidoscopic novel about the life and daydreams of Ulrich, a one hundred-year-old man from Bulgaria.
is a wonder—an exploration of memory, a window on a country and region mysterious to the West even in the twentieth century, a keen study of human love and failure.”—Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian
With imaginative audacity and lyrical brilliance, Rana Dasgupta paints a portrait of a century through the story of a hundred-year-old blind Bulgarian man in this remarkable and dazzling debut novel.
In the first movement of Solo we meet Ulrich, the son of a railroad engineer. His passion for chemistry leads him to Berlin, but his studies are cut short when he must return to Sofia to look after his parents. He never leaves Bulgaria again. Except in his daydreams—and it is those dreams we enter in the volatile second half of the book. In a radical leap from past to present, from life lived to life imagined, Dasgupta follows Ulrichs fantasy children, born of communism but making their way into a post-communist world of celebrity and violence.
Intertwining science and heartbreak, the old world and the new, Solo is a virtuoso work.
“A novel utterly refreshing in its blunt acknowledgment that thoroughgoing realism involves escaping reality as much as constructing it . . . What makes Mr. Dasguptas adventurous storytelling especially rewarding is the way he carefully integrates tiny details from Ulrichs drab life into his fantasy, transfiguring them like hay spun into gold . . . Invigorating.”—Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Born in Sarajevo, Aleksandar Hemon came to Chicago in 1992. The author of the acclaimed Nowhere Man and The Question of Bruno, he writes stories and essays that appear regularly in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, and Best American Short Stories.