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The Lazarus Project [Kindle Edition]

Aleksandar Hemon
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

On 2 March 1908, nineteen-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a Russian Jewish immigrant to Chicago, tried to deliver a letter to the home of the city's Chief of Police, George Shippy. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. Lazarus Averbuch, Shippy claimed, 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 – and country – seething with political and ethnic tensions. In the twenty-first century, Brik, a young Bosnian writer in Chicago, becomes obsessed with finding out the truth of what happened to Lazarus. And so Brik and his friend Rora, a charming and unreliable photographer, set off on a journey back to Lazarus Averbuch’s birthplace, through a history of pogroms and poverty and a present of gangsters and prostitutes. 'Masterful . . . troubling, funny and redemptive . . . ingenious . . . Hemon is as much a writer of the senses as of the intellect. He can be very funny: the novel is full of jokes and linguistic riffs that justify comparisons to Nabokov' Washington Post 'The fearless and spirited expression of a turbulent literary talent . . . For all Hemon's nods to other writers -- one catches glimpses not only of Nabokov and Sebald but of Bulgakov, Pamuk, Amis, Poe -- he is entirely his own man, an original who owes no debts to anyone' Patrick McGrath, Book Forum 'Profoundly moving . . . A literary page-turner that combines narrative momentum with meditations on identity and mortality' Kirkus

Product Description


'Fantastic novel...glimmers with piercing insights into love, loss, migration and ideas of home.' -- Metro


'Profoundly moving . . . A literary page-turner that combines narrative momentum with meditations on identity and mortality'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 623 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594489882
  • Publisher: Picador; 1 edition (7 Aug. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0041OTACA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #243,615 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book.... 7 Oct. 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a really fascinating book. Like other good writers whose first language is not English (eg Nabokov, Conrad) Hemon brings to his work a freshness and vitality. His lead character's confusion between "sadness" and "sardines" is a particularly nice example. The chapters alternate between the 1900s and present day in Chicago. The earlier part of the book tells the story of a young Jewish (possible) Anarchist (Lazarus Averbuch) and his murder by the Chief of Police. Much of this strikes chords with today's situation - fear of terrorists, immigrants, police cover-ups, political bias of the press. This is based on actual events - although many of the facts remain uncertain.

The other part is the story of a would-be writer Brik who is planning a book on Lazarus and sets off on a journey to Europe to find out about his origins. But he himself has his own memories of the war following the break-up of Yugoslavia so he decides to include a visit to his home country. He is accompanied by a photographer friend whose own actions in the past do not bear too much scrutiny. Sometimes the story of Lazarus leeches into the modern day chapters. When this occurred I took it to mean that these parts were being imagined by Brik whereas the 1908 chapters were what actually happened.

The ending was somewhat ambivalent - but then life is often like that and some things do not end neatly. I am not sure about the photographs. The old ones from the Chicago archives were interesting but the modern ones were so poorly reproduced that I didn't know their purpose.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written 28 July 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
After I got this book I glanced at the reviews here on Amazon, and was in two minds whether to even read the book. I looked at the reviews on the US Amazon sight and they seemed a bit more encouraging. Hemon has now been compared with so many writers (I thought of another one whilst reading this book) that I am not even going to go there. This is the first time I have read any of his work and I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I can see why some people wouldn't.

The story has two strands one being the death of Lazarus Averbuch in 1908, the other being the writing of this story by Brik. Some reviewers have complained that Brik doesn't come across as a complete character but reading this I found that I know people like that. He is someone who is cynical and sees the bad side of life. When Brik manages to get a grant to write his book about Lazarus he is persuaded to go look for Lazarus' roots. Taking his schoolfriend Rora with him to take photos they travel to Eastern Europe to find where Lazarus came from. On the journey they go to Brik's grandparents' home in the Ukraine and take in Sarajevo, somewhere that Brik hasn't been to since before the siege of that city. Rora, always a teller of tall tales since childhood tells Brik of what happened in Sarajevo during the siege.

The historical tale of Lazarus gradually blends with the modern tale showing how history is always repeating itself, whether in war, ethnic cleansing or meaningless death.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 30 Oct. 2009
By Sally Zigmond VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Giving this novel five stars may seem a little over the top because nothing is perfect but it's the most outstanding novel I have read for some time; and what's more a novel I might easily have missed.

Others have pointed out the multiple echoes and cross-currents between the two narrative strands and this is what I found the most fascinating aspect. The structure is seamless and the narrative compelling. Brik, the protagonist, is a kind of no-man in no-man's land, with no religion or allegiance. He is a kind of sponge. The more he sees and hears of cruelty and randomness the more he absorbs it until he ends up beating up a man and feels no regret. When his travelling companion, Rora, is brutally murdered, he believes it's a revenge killing. Rora's sister has other ideas. Her take on Rora's life is nothing like Brik's.

One of the many themes explored by this novel is the nature of truth and whether it matters. Perhaps the stories we make up are more true to us. Brik sets out to discover why Lazarus was murdered and why he was visiting the chief of police's house. He doesn't find any answers. Maybe it was a random case of being the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong or perhaps he was an anarchist. But what was an anarchist? For anarchist in 1908, read terrorist in 2009. The `war on terror' is no more intelligently thought-out than the fear of, and the hunt for, anarchists in Chicago in 1908.

Some of the reviewers here have complained that there's too much about the modern story and not enough about Lazarus. But isn't that the whole point? Brik has set out to discover truths about Lazarus he hasn't a hope of discovering. He doesn't even know the truth about himself. Reviewers here have also complained that Brik is not a nice person. He's not meant to be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars An undoubtedly brilliant author who sometimes lost this reader
The author and the main character of this novel, Vladimir Brik, have many characteristics and experiences in common. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Dr R
4.0 out of 5 stars An improvement
This novel is much better than his other one reviewed by me.It has much more substance and a more involving plot. Read more
Published on 22 Jun. 2012 by Andrew Foulds
2.0 out of 5 stars Just couldn't get into it
I'm not generally someone who gives up on a book. I tend to struggle on with even the most arduous tome to do the author justice; after all they have given their time and effort to... Read more
Published on 23 Aug. 2011 by D. Gilman
1.0 out of 5 stars Anti
Can this book be re-named as "Anti-Serbian Project", judging by the author's feelings, overall?
I would much enjoyed translated work by the Bosnian "Top-List of Sur-realist",... Read more
Published on 15 Oct. 2010 by Anya Strossmayer
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing & enjoyable
I requested this, and another Aleksandar Hemon book from vine on the basis of the intriguing blurbs, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed with either. Read more
Published on 31 Dec. 2009 by Eugene Lafcadio
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, has to be a future award winner
Firstly, I came to this story with some anxiety having heard a little about the author, expecting it to be heavy, perhaps a little overcooked in places and too 'literary' for my... Read more
Published on 22 Dec. 2009 by Mr. Nadim Bakhshov
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting reading project
A whimsical story that weaves in and out of modern day and the early twentieth century. It really is a nicely written story, the thing that got me, was that it was quite heavy... Read more
Published on 16 Dec. 2009 by E. Chittenden
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult but worth it
This is a bit of a departure for me, in that usually I don't get on with books written in the 1st person. Read more
Published on 4 Dec. 2009 by S. Minchin
2.0 out of 5 stars Grindingly nihilistic
As a big fan of Aleksandar Hemon's "Love and Obstacles" I started to devour this offering ravenously. Read more
Published on 29 Nov. 2009 by Tim Coleman
4.0 out of 5 stars The new Nabakov?
That's what he's being hyped as. And it has to be said that Hemon writes exceptionally well (in English moreover, which is not his mother tongue). Hence the tag. Read more
Published on 25 Nov. 2009 by Andrew Sutherland
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