The Lazarus Project
creates a heavy, heartfelt wholeness
out of three different kinds of loss. First there is Vladimir Brik, a young
Bosnian-American whose only apparent difference from the author is his name (see
sidebar). He has lost his homeland, a loss made sharper by his guilt at having
escaped the ravages of war. In America, his new home, he feels forever tentative
and dissociated. "The one thing I remembered and missed from the before-the-war
Sarajevo," he says, "was a kind of unspoken belief that everyone could be
whatever they claimed they wereeach life, however imaginary, could be validated
by its rightful, sovereign owner, from the inside."
He becomes almost morbidly fascinated by the true story of Lazarus Averbach, a
Jewish man who escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe only to be shot dead by the
Chief of Police, mistaken for an...
Beyond the Book
Aleksandar Hemon's extraordinary life story is more than simply fodder for
book publicists. It informs everything he has written, for his work is
restlessly autobiographical, infused with the urgency of thinking through his
life on paper.
In 1992, Hemon was a young Bosnian writer, just two years out of the
University of Sarajevo and about to publish his first book, a collection of
spare and modernist short stories. Then Sarajevo was surrounded by the Yugoslav
National Army and the Bosnian War broke out. Hemon's book was never published.
As he said later, "Stopping that was the best thing the war ever did."
Hemon was on a one-month tour of the United States when his city was
besieged, and the visit turned him into an...