Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Lazarus Project

Billiantly written and set in both 1908 Chicago and contemporary Chicago and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Aleksandar Hemon's book The Lazarus Project links the murder of Lazarus Averbuch, an Eastern European immigrant, by Chicago's Chief of Police in 1908, with a contemporary fictional trip to Eastern Europe. The trip's purpose is to trace Lazarus's early life and journey to America but it also provides the narrator, a recent immigrant from Bosnia, a chance to visit his homeland which has been destroyed by the recent war. Hemon builds an awesome parallel structure between the two stories filled with irony and dark humor. He links attitudes and actions of his characters and history to current American attitudes and biases.  It's a very complex book and can be frustrating--not every question finds an answer-- but it is a very impressive work of literature.

Cathy Sullivan Seblonka, Youth services

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