The Lazarus Project by Alesksandar HemonLazarus Project Next One Book, One Community Selection

Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project, a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, is the 2011 selection for Marquette's One Book, One Community program.

At the heart of the novel is a historical event, according to Hemon's website: On March 2, 1908, 19-year-old Lazarus Averbuch, a recent Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe to Chicago, knocked on the front door of the house of George Shippy, the chief of Chicago police. When Shippy came to the door, Averbuch offered him what he said was an important letter. Instead of taking the letter, Shippy shot Averbuch twice, killing him. When Shippy released a statement casting Averbuch as a would-be anarchist assassin and agent of foreign political operatives, he all but set off a city and a country already simmering with ethnic and political tensions.

Moving forward to the 21st century, the fictional hero Vladimir Brik is a young writer in Chicago who also hails from Eastern Europe. Brik becomes obsessed with Averbuch's' story—what really happened, and why? In order to understand, Brik retraces Averbuch's path across Eastern Europe. The Lazarus Project weaves the two stories together, augmenting them with photographs taken during Brik's journey by his traveling partner, Rora, who overflows with stories of his life as a Sarajevo war photographer.

Hemon also is the author of three collections of short stories: The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Love and Obstacles. Born in Sarajevo, Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege and he was unable to return home. Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004.  He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. 

One Book, One Community is designed to bring Marquette County residents and NMU students together to read and discuss the same book. A schedule of discussions and special events related to The Lazarus Project will be posted at



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Updated: March 31, 2011

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