2004 MacArthur Fellowship
2009 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee
2009 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee
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 language as 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 shimmering sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking contemporary 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 story what really happened, and why? In order to understand Averbuch, Brik and his friend Rora who overflows with stories of his life as a Sarajevo war photographer retrace 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 will confirm Hemon once and for all as one of the most dynamic and essential literary voices of our time.
"MacArthur genius Hemon in his third book (after Nowhere Man) intelligently unpacks 100 years' worth of immigrant disillusion, displacement and desperation. As fears of the anarchist movement roil 1908 Chicago, the chief of police guns down Lazarus Averbuch, an eastern European immigrant Jew who showed up at the chief's doorstep to deliver a note. Almost a century later, Bosnian-American writer Vladimir Brik secures a coveted grant and begins working on a book about Lazarus; his research takes him and fellow Bosnian Rora, a fast-talking photographer whose photos appear throughout the novel, on a twisted tour of eastern Europe (there are brothel-hotels, bouts of violence, gallons of coffee and many fabulist stories from Rora) that ends up being more a journey into their own pasts than a fact-finding mission. Sharing equal narrative duty is the story of Olga Averbuch, Lazarus's sister, who, hounded by the police and the press (the Tribune reporter is especially vile), is faced with another shock: the disappearance of her brother's body from his potter's grave. (His name, after all, was Lazarus.) Hemon's workmanlike prose underscores his piercing wit, and between the murders that bookend the novel, there's pathos and outrage enough to chip away at even the hardest of hearts." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"An extraordinary writer: one who seems not simply gifted but necessary." The New York Times
"[A] novel worth reading with as much fire as its composition must have demanded." Library Journal
"The Lazarus Project takes a healthy swing at the all-inclusive, the gripping, at the truly audacious....Hemon's is a majestic talent.... His prose gets stranger and sharper as it goes, which seems right for such a journey: The guide gets more firm as the cave walls light up and the shadows enlarge. It's the kind of thing only a full-fledged talent can do." Chicago Tribune
"A profoundly moving novel....A literary page-turner that combines narrative momentum with meditations on identity and mortality." Kirkus Reviews
"Hemon can't write a boring sentence, and the English language (which he adopted at a late age) is the richer for it." Gary Shteyngart, The New York Times Book Review
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.
About the Author
Born in Sarajevo, Aleksandar Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return home. Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995. His work now appears regularly in The New Yorker, Granta, The Paris Review, and Best American Short Stories. He is the author of The Question of Bruno and Nowhere Man, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Hemon was awarded a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004. Riverhead will publish Hemon's next book, Love and Obstacles, in 2009.