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The Lazarus Project

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,756 Ratings  ·  682 Reviews
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
ebook, 304 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Riverhead Books
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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
Jan 21, 2009 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I've been wanting to read this book for a while because I have a thing about stories (true and fictional) involving historical anarchists. There are multiple storylines here, one taking place in the early 20th century in Chicago after Lazarus is shot by the police chief, and accused of being an anarchist. This storyline is told by his older sister, Olga, who tries to make sense of his death in a land that promised opportunity, unlike their homeland in Eastern Europe. Another storyline is told fr ...more
Jan 27, 2009 Debbie rated it did not like it  ·  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
Jeremy Allan
I probably would have rated this book higher than three stars if I'd have come to it first among Hemon's work, but after having previously read his first two books, this one lacks some lustre. Most of my problems with the book were related to where repetitive tropes from Hemon's other books seemed stale this time around. He often gets compared to Nabokov since his first language is not English (though Nabakov's Speak, Memory makes that claim a little more problematic). Both, as writers, share ob ...more
Jun 03, 2008 Leanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 26, 2012 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nathan Rostron
Aug 21, 2008 Nathan Rostron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
I generally do not not finish books, but this year in such a short amount of time, I’ve come across two that didn’t quite suit me. I admire Hemon’s style and find that it’s clever at times, although this whole simultaneous back-and-forth timeline between present and past doesn’t quite work or live up to how the story began. I got halfway, but this one is being put away for good. I will most likely come back and try another Hemon sometime in the distant future, but as of now, he’ll have to wait f ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Stefan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 13, 2012 Cameron rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 17, 2009 rmn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Mar 31, 2011 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 12, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 21, 2008 Ashaspencer rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 17, 2012 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 01, 2008 Sanja rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 06, 2009 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 18, 2009 Selena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thebest, 2009
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
Jul 09, 2009 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Brent Legault
Sep 09, 2008 Brent Legault rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Terry Pearce
Feb 25, 2016 Terry Pearce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the way the man writes. Very thoughtful, and that good balance between character and plot. That said, no absolute fireworks for me, as I might have expected from some reviews, but a very thoughtful, worthwhile read.
Ana-Maria Bujor
I see people have very mixed views about this writer, but I really enjoyed this book - another great work written by a Bosnian! The starting point of the story is intriguing and even if it does not deliver one great ending, I really enjoyed the travel. And travel it is - USA, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bosnia and the strange things along the way. Living in Romania and having been to Bosnia, I really enjoyed walking in my imagination with the narrator on streets I knew next to buildings I have vi ...more
David Anderson
Aug 03, 2015 David Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hemon's work in this novel reminds me in many ways of Kurt Vonnegut, in particular of Slaughterhouse 5: The way he jumps back and forth between different time frames with each parallel plot line tracking developments in the other. The way in which he weaves in all these side stories and characters and jokes into the narrative. His repeated use of crucial catchphrases that grow in resonance with each repetition ("Home is where somebody notices your absence." "I am just like everybody else because ...more
Sep 04, 2010 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hemon is that rarest of all writers, rarer still for being an immigrant, whose prose has vigor without losing purpose, who can build an intricate, time- and story-shifting plot without making it seem like unnecessary fireworks. And yet his prose retains a flavor of his East European mordancy, the wit of someone born in a country that no longer exists. The central character is Vladimir Brik, an immigrant like Hemon from Sarajevo who is fascinated with the real story of Lazarus Averbukh, a ninetee ...more
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
Nov 26, 2008 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2011 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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. He is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist f
More about Aleksandar Hemon...

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“Home is where somebody notices when you are no longer there. ” 171 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.” 139 likes
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