Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project was one of last year's must-reads—up there with Netherland, White Tiger, My Revolutions, 2666, and all the other fancy literary titles that vied for National Book Awards and Bookers and what have you. Of course, no one has time to read all of the must-reads, and I never got around to Hemon's book, which intertwines the story of Brik, a Bosnian writer living in contemporary Chicago, with that of a 19-year-old Eastern European Jew who was murdered by Chicago's chief of police in 1908 after being mistaken for an anarchist. (True story.) Recently, though, looking for something to read on a long flight, I grabbed the just-released paperback version of The Lazarus Project. And ho-ly cow, is it fantastic. I read it on vacation with no intention of reviewing it, but I couldn't help but dog ear certain passages. Here is one, in which the protagonist is eating at a McDonalds in Chisinau:
I was having a Big Mac, large fries, and a large Coke. Rora got McEggs and a milk shake. We sat outside and ate quickly, greedily. This was no comfort food; it was food that implied that there had never been and would never be any need for comfort.
If that doesn't make you want to read the book, then... I guess you shouldn't read the book. If it does intrigue you, get on it—Hemon has a new short story collection out, Love and Obstacles, and he'll be reading at Powell's on Thursday, May 28.