Local treasure Aleksandar Hemon, already deemed a “genius” by the MacArthur Foundation, broke through eight years ago with his debut “The Question of Bruno, ” a staggering accomplishment from the Sarajevo-born writer for whom English was an acquired language. “Nowhere Man” followed, which proved Hemon was not a one-hit fluke. His newest novel, his best, is titled “The Lazarus Project,” a jarring and provocative piece of work that links together a hundred years of Chicago history. The plot? In March 1908, an Eastern European immigrant named Lazarus Averbuch is unjustly shot to death by the city’s chief of police, leaving his sister alone in the unknown city. Flash forward a century, and a young writer, also Eastern European and living in Chicago, becomes obsessed with the boy’s story and sets out to learn as much as he can about his life. The characters’ stories link, as does the city’s streets, beaten and built again during these hundred years of life. The imaginative plot is only surface pleasure. Like with the best novelists, the rewards from Hemon’s prose come from a much deeper place. (Tom Lynch)
Aleksandar Hemon reads from “The Lazarus Project” as part of the “Writers on the Record with Victoria Lautman” series May 18 at the Lookingglass Theater, 821 North Michigan, (312)337-0665, at 11:45am. Free.