“He Is Basically a Decent Man”: Some Notes on the Historical Background of Aleksandar Hemon’s The Lazarus Project

By Gustavo Sánchez Canales.

Published by The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review

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Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the murder of Lazarus Averbuch, a young Jewish survivor of the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, who was killed in Chicago in 1908, Aleksandar Hemon published “The Lazarus Project” (2008), a novel that is greatly based on the life and death of this Russian-Jew immigrant. This article examines the historical framework within which The Lazarus Project was written, focusing on (1) how the devastating effects of the Kishinev pogrom of 1903 on the local population made many Jews like Lazarus emigrate and (2) the socio-political tensions found in the United States of the 1900s due to the pervasive fear of anarchism that terrorized many Americans at the turn of the 20th century.

Keywords: Aleksandar Hemon, “The Lazarus Project”, Lazarus Averbuch, Kishinev, Pogrom, Chicago, Anarchism/anarchist.

The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review, Volume 10, pp.93-103. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 533.425KB).

Gustavo Sánchez Canales

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

Dr. Sánchez Canales teaches English at The Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. His research interests include contemporary Jewish American fiction, Holocaust literature, and literary theory. He has published numerous articles in Spanish and English on the work of authors including Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, Chaim Potok, Cynthia Ozick, Allegra Goodman, Rebecca Goldman and Jonathan Safran Foer. Until recently, he has been the Director of English courses at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo and vice dean for International Relations at the Faculty of Teacher Training at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.