Jim's Reviews > The Lazarus Project

The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
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's review
Apr 02, 2009

it was amazing
Read in April, 2009

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 near-mystical merge of history, autobiography and fiction (i.e. lies.) I don't think I've ever enjoyed anything with such a loose grasp on details, but such confidence in it's story telling. In blurring a journalistic approach to the story of Lazarus Averbuch (a Ukrainian Jew who escaped pogroms in his home town near the turn of the last century only to be murdered by the racist and hysterical Chief of Police of Chicago) Hemon frees himself to populate his own post-911 Chicago with characters and situations from that historical event. By further blurring his own story through that of his protagonist, Bosnian/Chicagoan author Vladimir Brik, he blends a surreal cocktail of moral ambiguity regarding questions of race, religion, politics, power and the nature of truth itself.

If you got through the tortured jumble of prose in that last paragraph, you may correctly assume that "The Lazarus Project" is densely packed with opinions, questions and contradictions in just the right proportion to stymie any simplistic synopsis or summary. (Or consonance, or alliteration...)

But here's an attempt: Neato - Not to be missed!
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