The Lazarus Project
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The Lazarus Project

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  3,871 ratings  ·  592 reviews
On 2 March 1908, Lazarus Averbuch, a young Russian Jewish immigrant to Chicago, tried to deliver a letter to the city's Chief of Police. He was shot dead. After the shooting, it was claimed he was an anarchist assassin and an agent of foreign operatives who wanted to bring the United States to its knees. His sister, Olga, was left alone and bereft in a city seething with t...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published August 7th 2009 by Picador USA (first published 2008)
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D.R. Haney
It's hot as hell at the moment, and I just got home after finishing this book while riding on the bus. A dull-eyed, fat kid at the back of the bus kept tapping on his seat with drumsticks, while his equally dull-eyed, fat (though not equally fat) girlfriend stared into space beside him. The incessant, arhythmic patter of the drumsticks drove me mad. I wanted to break them over that kid's head. That was, in fact, the least of what I wanted to do.

All of this has nothing to do with The Lazarus Pro...more
Karen
Jeremy gave this book three stars and said that if he'd picked it up before reading Hemon's other stuff, he might have given it more. I feel exactly the same way. This book certainly isn't bad, and I think Hemon has a lot of potential as a writer. But it seems like the whole world has been telling him (in the form of grant upon million-dollar genius grant and over-the-top praise such as "this guy = Nabokov" and "this writer is not only good, he's NECESSARY") that we're all really friggin fascina...more
Jeremy Allan
I probably would rate this book higher than three stars if I'd have come to it first among Hemon's work, but after reading his first two books, this one loses some lustre. Most of my problems with the book were related to where tropes common to Hemon's previous works seemed stale. For example, he often gets compared to Nabokov since his first language is not English. Still, even as Nabokov returns again and again to stories about Russian emigrees, each character stands apart from the others. Mea...more
Leanna
In 1908, Lazarus Averbuch, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, is shot dead by the Chicago Chief of Police. Almost a century later, fictional Vladimir Brik, an immigrant from Bosnia, decides to write a book about Lazarus. Aleksandar Hemon’s latest novel, The Lazarus Project, imagines Averbuch's life and Brik's research.

Armed with a grant and a fellow-Bosnian photographer, Brik returns to Eastern Europe to learn more Lazarus’s life there. They travel through Ukraine, Moldova, and Bulgaria before fi...more
Debbie
Jan 27, 2009 Debbie rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO
Shelves: tossed
I really tried to like this book. I forced myself through 150+ pages before I finally decided that it was not going to get any better. The book has 2 main subjects -- Lazarus, a 19 year old immigrant shot in 1908 by a policeman in Chicago for unknown reasons and the story of the author that is struggling to write Lazarus's story.

While the Lazarus sections are very good and engaging, the struggling writer parts are not. Basically those chapters have this format: Mujo joke, Rora story, author lame...more
Drew
What did I think? I thought it was pretty damn good. I have to confess, I had very low expectations. It appealed to me because it was on the LA Times "61 Postmodern Reads" list, a list that is guilty of being really hit-or-miss and also using 'read' as a noun, which consistently irks me. That, plus a couple of lukewarm reviews and a distressingly vague back-cover teaser, prevented me from reading it as soon as I otherwise might have.

But it's way less of a chore than all those things would lead y...more
Knitography
The Lazarus Project consists two intertwined threads; in 1908 Lazarus Averbuch, a Russian immigrant and pogrom survivor is shot by the Chicago chief of police. The story is told from the perspective of his sister Olga as she tries to make sense of her loss. In the present, Vladamir Brik, a writer and Bosnian immigrant, is researching Lazarus' story, hoping to turn it into a book.

Those parts of the book set in 1908 were well-written and enjoyable to read. The author really succeeded at getting in...more
rmn
A surprisingly perceptive and intriguing novel juxtaposing the life and subsequent murder of a Jewish immigrant to the United States in the early 1900s after he had escaped from a Ukranian pogrom, with the life of the protagonist and his friend who each immigrated to the US from Bosnia one before the Yugoslavian civil war and the other after.

The protagonist is a Bosnian writer living in present day Chicago who wants to write a book about the murder of an accused anarchist in 1908 by the Chicago...more
Matt
I should say up front, Aleks Hemon is one of the two or three living writers that I like most, who I am most excited when I see that they have a new book. I really love his work, on the basis of his wonderful book of stories and his even better first novel, _Nowhere Man_.

This is why it's too bad that I didn't think so much of this new book, _Lazarus Project_. It's Hemon's entry in the "return to the old country" genre of novels, of which everyone has one in them. Hemon's version intercuts that p...more
Ashaspencer
Aug 21, 2008 Ashaspencer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Choua
This book is by a Serbian writer who has been living in Chicago since 1992. The author lived in Uptown and Andersonville -the two neighborhoods in Chicago that I grew up in.

The book begins in these neighborhoods, and then follows the main character on a trip across Eastern Europe - prague, vienna, budapest, etc.

I read the book on a train trip from Vienna to Budapest, as I was in the process of planning my upcoming trip to Prague. It was a somewhat strange experience, as the book seeemd to be fo...more
Nathan Rostron
I saw Hemon read recently with Junot Diaz, who got a rock star reception at Central Park's Summer Stage. Hemon is not a rock star writer and garnered only polite applause. Unlike Diaz (in Oscar Wao, at any rate), Hemon's writing is not flashy or stylistically strutting somewhat awkwardly to allow for humongous cojones. Born in Sarajevo, Hemon writes with a syncopated English-language sensibility; it seems quiet but then it will sneak up on you and knock you flat. This one's definitely worth read...more
Ruth
This book weaves back and forth between past and present. At first it's a little confusing, but stick with it. The writing is clear, intelligent, witty and beautiful. Best book I've read in some time.
Stefan
With "The Lazarus Project," Aleksander Hemon establishes himself as a completely ignorable voice on the literary scene; a product of hype over substance; a lazy writer coasting on the unbelievable luck of winning a MacArthur grant, also known as a "genius grant." Hemon might be a genius, but he's definitely a bad writer.

The story certainly has possibilities. It simultaneously tells the story of a Jewish immigrant (Lazarus) murdered by a police chief in 1908 Chicago, and subsequently made out to...more
Sanja
A mesmerizing book that manages to capture some of, to me otherwise indescribable, Bosnian identity. What it means to be Bosnian, what it means to be an immigrant to this grand ol' complicated country, what it means to lose everything once and then keep on losing, intentionally, hopelessly.

A master wordsmith, Hemon nevertheless cannot compare, in my view, to Miljenko Jergovic, whose prose is so much more intense, rife with allusion, dialect, history, pain, and, in those rare moments, happiness....more
Chris
hemon's novel received lavish praise from all the most prestigious book reviewers around. however, i can't say that i'm joining them in their love. the book includes two stories that unfold in alternating chapters. one, about title character Lazarus, a young eastern european who is mysteriously murdered in the home of the chicago police chief. the city and the country was in constant fear of unbridled anarchy, and his death was portrayed by the police force as a suspected anarchist getting his j...more
Stuart
This book was original, absorbing and yet confusing. Billed as being the story of Lazarus Averbuch, murdered by the Chicago Chief of Police in 1908, and the research journey a century later of a writer, Vladimir Brik, planning to write Lazarus’ history, it evolved into many more stories than those two.

I had expected something like “the devil in the white city” with a chapter to each story, but instead, the two stories become intertwined, sharing chapters, switching stories from paragraph to par...more
James
Aleksandar Hemon has been on my radar screen since The Question of Bruno, which I read a while ago and remembered quite fondly, but what with one thing and another, I let his works slide by me, and then, several months ago, I noticed The Lazarus Project remaindered in paperback, and I thought, oh, right, that's The Question of Bruno guy, and I bought it, and it sat on a pile of books by the front door, waiting for me to grab on my way to the subway.

(Oh, and yes, I've kept up with Hemon's appeara...more
selena
All the lives I could live, all the people I will never know, never will be, they are everywhere. That is all that the world is. (2)

Alexander Hemon reminds me of myself. We are both proudly Bosnian, but mostly American in upbringing. Neither one of us can let go of our feelings about the war. But it is difficult to explain that to anyone but those who’ve experienced it with you.

I am a reasonably loyal citizen of a couple of countries. In America – that somber land – I waste my vote, pay taxes gr...more
Joe
I still need to think about this book, but I will say book designers in general need to stop putting critics' blurbs on the cover.... I really don't see much of a continuum between Hemon and Nabokov (except that they're both Slavs writing in English) And I also don't know why this pretentious boner from the New Yorker calls Nabokov "the Russian," but it took me a while to cut away the crap impressions glued all over the covers, the first 8 pages, etc.

The themes of malleable truth, the power of...more
Brent Legault
I've read a few reviews of this novel (one of them is quoted on the back cover) which invoke the name and the ghost of Nabokov. If I believed in ghosts (and cliches) I might wonder if old Vladimir Vladimirovich isn't spinning in his grave. The comparisons are facile and thoughtless but perhaps unsurprising. Critics love to find precedents. In that case, let me add one of my own: Jonathan Safran Foer. I'm sure I'm not the first to say that the stories of this novel and of Everything Is Illuminat...more
Benjamin
The Lazarus Project follows two storylines, one about a late 19th century Jewish-Ukrainian immigrant to Chicago who is murdered by the Chicago Chief of Police, and the other following a writer researching a novel-to-be about that immigrant by traveling through Southeastern Europe. The latter drags a little at times as the narrator gets bogged down in Ukrainian Jewish Cultural Centers and the like, but the story of Lazarus, the immigrant is good enough to pull the reader through.

Hemon's style is...more
Jim
This book is in contention for a National Book Award. It has excellent descriptions of what it is like to be the "other." Hemon does a good job of telling three stories at once. The first story is the narrator's quest to discover the story about Lazarus, a man who escaped a pogrom in the Ukraine in the early 1900s only to be killed by a Chicago police officer shortly after immigrating there.

The second story is about the narrator's trip to the Ukraine to discover more about Lazarus. In the proce...more
Greg
The Lazarus Project is interesting, difficult, disturbing, poignant, and original. While not thoroughly enjoyable, and somehow leaves the reader without some revelation despite the meticulous care with which the story was articulated, it still provides moments of great brilliance and is deserving of a thoughtful and careful read.

The plot revolves around a struggling writer. He is a Bosnian immigrant to Chicago, where he is married but hasn't found it within himself to create roots in America. He...more
Cameron
I often think that many critics give the book (or movie, in many more familiar cases) a good review because it is something they are supposed to do. You don't want to be known as the critic who turned his nose up at the Latvian drama about a gay, existentialist teen trying to survive the drab, grim reality of life in a post-communist regime, would you? What about the Paraguayan masterpiece about the girl that left that life of street gangs to become a school teacher that was later murdered by st...more
Rachel Ann Brickner
I absolutely loved this novel. Perhaps it is because this is the first time I have read Hemon and am therefore duly impressed with his unique style and veritable wit, but I still find it hard to believe the reviewers who weren't taken with his project and his characters.

I was so fascinated and intrigued by Lazarus Averbuch's story and the narrator's relationship to it. I also had an immense amount of fun with Brik and Rora as they roamed various cities and towns in Eastern Europe, getting into...more
Jim
My friend Kathie "assigned" this book to me - with a due date and everything. And yes, my connections to young Zander could have prejudiced me in his favor (mutual writer and Bosnian acquaintances, sweet home Chicago, etc.) But I gotta say - recent hacks at Modern Popular Literature have left me sore and wanting. (e.g. I've got at least as many connections to "The Time Traveler's Wife", and pee-fucking-you on that.) So disclosures, schmishclosures.

TLP surprised me on almost every page with it's...more
Melora
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rick
The Lazurus Project is a very good novel that tells parallel immigrant stories. The narrator is a Bosnian immigrant living in contemporary Chicago, married to a doctor and trying to make a start as a writer. He becomes fascinated by the story of an early 20th century Russian Jewish immigrant in Chicago who was killed by the city’s police chief. Chapters alternate between Brik’s story, told in the first person, and Lazarus’s, though what we’re reading when we read that narrative is Brik’s constru...more
Kirstie
May 16, 2010 Kirstie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are interested in fiction and nonfiction colliding.
I'm kind of in love with Aleksandar Hemon. Truthfully, this is really a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars for me. The flaws are minimal. Hemon goes back and forth between a semi autobiographical narrative and story line of his own journey back home and to the roots of his research as well as the original story of Lazarus Averbuch...what starts in Chicago goes much much farther. Hemon's grasp of the English language and how to write overall are just astounding. It is heartbreaking and insightful as any novel...more
Justin
On a Hemon kick right now as I gear up to review his new one, Love & Obstacles for the Oregonian.

He published this one last year and it's interesting how much he's changed as a writer. The one before this, Nowhere Man was composed, I'm pretty sure, not too long after he became fluent and began writing in English. Considering he's Bosnian, his English writing is incredible, and I think the fact it's not his native language allowed him to do oddly beautiful word combinations, descriptions, and...more
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Disappointed with the book 4 49 Jul 08, 2013 09:10AM  
The Ishpeming Car...: Overall Impression 1 1 Oct 11, 2011 09:37AM  
The Ishpeming Car...: Pictures 1 1 Oct 11, 2011 09:36AM  
The Ishpeming Car...: History 1 2 Oct 11, 2011 09:36AM  
The Ishpeming Car...: Lazarus 1 1 Oct 11, 2011 09:35AM  
The Ishpeming Car...: Characters 1 1 Oct 11, 2011 09:34AM  
The Ishpeming Car...: Underworlds 1 0 Oct 11, 2011 09:32AM  
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Hemon graduated from the University of Sarajevo with a degree in literature in 1990. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1992 and found that he was unable to write in Bosnian and spoke little English.

In 1995, he started writing works in English and managed to showcase his work in prestigious magazines such as the New Yorker and Esquire. Finally in 2000, he published his first book of short stories (...more
More about Aleksandar Hemon...
Nowhere Man The Question of Bruno Love and Obstacles The Book of My Lives Best European Fiction 2010

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“Home is where somebody notices when you are no longer there. ” 127 likes
“When I look at my old pictures, all I can see is what I used to be but am no longer. I think: What I can see is what I am not.” 101 likes
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