Bosnian-American author and MacArthur genius recipient Aleksandar Hemon pens novels of high insight and deft literary accomplishment. The Lazarus Project, alternating between turn-of-the-century Chicago and modern times, features a man attempting to reimagine the death of a Jewish immigrant.weiterlesen
Aleksander Hemon's new book is like a family photo album that spans the last hundred years and covers two continents. It is the immigrant story of diaspora, displacement, and despair, but all handled with an irony that captures the poetry of the text much as a camera frames images.
The irony is heightened by the performance of Tony Award-winning actor Jefferson Mays, whose mannered, clipped delivery keeps events largely at arm's length (though paradoxically this treatment tends to reinforce the horror of the violent passages, where Hemon seems determined to make the reader viscerally experience the brutality of power used to oppress).
The story is based on the true case of the 1908 murder of a recently-arrived Jewish immigrant, Lazarus Averbuch, at the hands of Chicago's chief of police. Another imagined narrative is that of Sarajevo-born struggling author Bric and his grant-funded journey from Chicago through East Europe to trace the story of Averbuch in reverse. It is a strength of Hemon's writing that both voices the heartbroken, outcast sister in 1908 and the somewhat self-absorbed writer of a century later ring true, as do the descriptions of turn-of-the-century Chicago and the more dilapidated corners of modern Chernivtsi. Mays manages to make the transition between both time periods almost imperceptibly, which compliments the tale's meshing of the past and present.
But it is in Bric's narrative that the force of Hemon's tale comes through: the Lazarus project is about resurrection in more ways than one. As Lazarus' grieving sister must investigate her brother's past to make sense of his murder, Bric's journey unearths not only the bloody history of Europe's Jewish population the pogrom of Kishinev, Chicago's hostility towards immigrants but his own sense of self, his own identity as a man displaced from his country of birth and resituated in a depersonalizing western society. This tale is as much a story of belonging as a study of cultural rejection. Dafydd Phillips
"There's pathos and outrage enough to chip away at even the hardest of hearts." (
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