Monday, January 11, 2016

Book Review: "The Lazarus Project" by Aleksander Hemon

The Lazarus Project is part fiction, part nonfiction, a dash of violence, and a sprinkle of lies that we tell ourselves for unexpected reasons. Knead with anti-immigration, season with a ridiculous amount of relevance, bake until done.

(PS There is also a movie with Paul Walker with the same name. The movie is not based on the book. It got 44% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's my warning. Do with it what you will).

In 1908 a teenager knocked on the door of the house of the Chicago's Chief of Police. We don't know what Lazarus' intentions were but it ended with the Chief shooting him multiple times, fearing he was an anarchist assassin. Though there was no evidence that pointed to that conclusion. (Paranoia about immigrants? Police violence against unarmed persons? We've come a long way....not really.)

In current times, Brik is intrigued by Lazarus' story. Brik lives in Chicago, and is an Eastern European immigrant himself. He's a writer married to an American woman; having one foot in his current country and one in his old. At a Bosnian independence day party he is reunited with a childhood friends named Rora. To put it simply, Rora is super super shady, since like the 4th grade. Brik gets a grant to go back to Europe to research Lazarus for a book he's writing and he asks Rora to accompany him. Here's a hint - very little research gets done but lots of other less savory things happen.

This book flashes back and forth from Brik and Rora's European adventure and the aftermath of Lazarus' shooting. Lazarus' sister is left to wonder why he was at that house, since she can't believe that he could ever be an assassin. Birk spends his time in Europe contemplating his life in Bosnia, his tension filled marriage, and a lot of narrow scrapes with Rora.

I honestly don't know how I feel about this book. I was looking forward to finding out more about Lazarus and that didn't happen. But I liked the Eastern Europe setting, which had a similar feel as "Girl at War". I don't know. It's kind of  meh. 2.5 stars? Interesting cover though!



  1. Too bad about this one; it's always a little disappointing when a story doesn't live up to its cover!

    1. It is! But at least for "favorite covers of the year" posts at the end of the year this one will be on it. So, not all for naught :)


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