Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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MacArthur genius Hemon in his third book (after Nowhere Man) intelligently unpacks 100 years' worth of immigrant disillusion, displacement and desperation. As fears of the anarchist movement roil 1908 Chicago, the chief of police guns down Lazarus Averbuch, an eastern European immigrant Jew who showed up at the chief's doorstep to deliver a note. Almost a century later, Bosnian-American writer Vladimir Brik secures a coveted grant and begins working on a book about Lazarus; his research takes him and fellow Bosnian Rora, a fast-talking photographer whose photos appear throughout the novel, on a twisted tour of eastern Europe (there are brothel-hotels, bouts of violence, gallons of coffee and many fabulist stories from Rora) that ends up being more a journey into their own pasts than a fact-finding mission. Sharing equal narrative duty is the story of Olga Averbuch, Lazarus's sister, who, hounded by the police and the press (the Tribune reporter is especially vile), is faced with another shock: the disappearance of her brother's body from his potter's grave. (His name, after all, was Lazarus.) Hemon's workmanlike prose underscores his piercing wit, and between the murders that bookend the novel, there's pathos and outrage enough to chip away at even the hardest of hearts. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Hemon resurrects Lazarus Averbuch, an Eastern European Jew shot to death by Chicago's chief of police while attempting to give him a letter, by telling the story of a contemporary Eastern European immigrant fascinated with Averbuch. With a five-city tour and reading group guide. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

After two short story collections (The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man), Mac-Arthur Award recipient Hemon brings us a novel worth reading with as much fire as its composition must have demanded. The New York Times rightfully calls Hemon "not simply gifted but necessary." Reading Hemon's image-viscous prose is like anxiously wading through dark emotion. It's the story of Brik, who fled to Chicago from Sarajevo during war, married a neurosurgeon, and became a writer. Obsessed with the story of Lazarus Averbuch--an Eastern European immigrant who was murdered in 1908 in Chicago, five years after escaping the pogroms--Brik returns with photographer friend Rora to Eastern Europe to immerse himself in his and Lazarus's old lives. Through Rora's stories of wartime Sarajevo and glimpses of Brik's life, we understand their outsider anguish in America. Also, through flashbacks of Lazarus's death, Hemon reveals the other mystery. This story could be compared with Jonathan Safran-Foer's Everything Is Illuminated in that it's one character's Eastern European search for enlightenment. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/08.]--Stephen Morrow, Athens, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Lazarus Averbuch, a recent immigrant and survivor of the infamous Kishinev pogrom, tries to see Chicago's chief of police early on March 2, 1908, but he is shot to death before he can state his mission. The powers-that-be finger the undernourished young Jew as an anarchist and harass his seamstress sister, Olga, as part of a brutal cover-up. So begins MacArthur fellow Hemon's third and most galvanizing work of fiction. The basic story of Lazarus' murder is true, and Hemon tells it with vigor and outrage, covertly paralleling early-twentieth-century anti-Semitic hysteria over anarchists with early-twenty-first-century stereotyping of Islamic terrorists. Powerful stuff, and yet just one facet of a remarkably trenchant novel. Vladimir Brik, a struggling Bosnian writer living in present-day Chicago, decides to write about Lazarus and embarks on a grant-funded research expedition with photographer Rora. The two endure ludicrous, risky, and wrenching adventures in long-tyrannized Moldova and Sarajevo, and Hemon, a gloves-off heir to Nabokov, riffs audaciously on the biblical Lazarus, venomously condemns gangsterdom, and praises those who hold on to their humanity in the maelstrom of genocide. Charged with fury and empathy, Hemon's sentences seethe and hiss, their dangerous beauty matched by Velibor Bozovic's eloquent black-and-white photographs, creating an excoriating novel of rare moral clarity.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2008 Booklist