The Lazarus Project

By Aleksandar Hemon
294 pages. Riverhead Books. $24.95.

Aleksandar Hemon’s novel is another entry in the growing genre of the immigrant picaresque, following a path blazed by the likes of Gary Shteyngart (though with fewer wisecracks) and Junot Díaz (without the ghetto-nerd slang). Mr. Hemon and his narrator, Vladimir Brik, are Bosnians who have ended up in Chicago more or less by accident. Brik is trying to write a book about Lazarus Averbuch, a real-life Jewish immigrant who in 1908 was killed by the police in what was claimed to be an anarchist attack on the chief of police, George Shippy. Lazarus’s story is also told in Mr. Hemon’s book, intertwined with the tale of Brik’s trip through Eastern Europe with his friend Rora, another Bosnian émigré, storyteller and photographer. “He had finished the work of becoming himself, long before any of us could even imagine such a feat was possible,” Brik notes as he sees Rora coming towards him on a Chicago street. “Needless to say, I envied him.” Mr. Hemon was awarded a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004.

Source : The New York Times


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