Aleksandar Hemon

Imagine the headlines if, just after 9/11, a young Arab immigrant had approached our police chief, who immediately shot him dead. That’s essentially what happened in 1908 Chicago, soon after the Haymarket riots, when the U.S. was gripped in fear of anarchists. Himself an immigrant, Aleksandar Hemon uses his novel The Lazarus Project (Riverhead, $24.95) to relate the true story of Lazarus Averbuch, a young Jewish victim of state murder 100 years ago. But the project is more complicated: An expat narrator, much like Hemon, is here writing about Averbuch and reexamining the political violence back in Bosnia. And our hero decides to visit his old homeland in Eastern Europe, where he finds McDonalds, Starbucks, tracksuit-wearing hoodlums, and pimps driving American SUVs to transport hookers who look just like the ones back home in Chicago. If the idealistic Averbuch wanted to improve the world, the writer finds that, a century later, those who run the world are still willing to kill to resist those improvements. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Tue., May 6, 8 p.m., 2008

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