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Vengeance: A Novel Paperback – February 13, 2018

4.7 out of 5 stars 8 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Vengeance

A One Book One New Orleans Selection

"[An] absorbing and prismatic new novel. . . . Lazar can be deeply moving as he captures the hopelessness that surrounds him. . . . Throughout the novel, we feel heartbreaking possibility, the near miss of lives that might have been." —Mark Sarvas, The New York Times Book Review

“Tense and evocative . . . . Despite its powerful social critique, Vengeance is cautious and prismatic, openly troubled by its own claims to authority.” The New Yorker

"This powerful new novel about a murder investigation, mass incarceration, and the monstrously powerful, profoundly entrenched structural racism in the United States, reads like the best investigative journalism. But it is also deeply literary—with vividly drawn characters, a compelling narrative arc, and philosophical reflections on the nature of justice and perception." Library Journal

"Vengeance is profound in its exploration of the U.S. penal system. It's empathetic without being sentimental in the treatment of its characters, both in and outside the walls of the prison. Lazar's novel is a beautiful specimen of storytelling while simultaneously challenging its audience to reach deep and question the very core of their beliefs. . . . Settle in and prepare to be changed by this powerful novel." —Jen Forbus, Shelf Awareness

"This contemplative, precise, mesmerizing novel is a smash–up of fiction and nonfiction. The author fuses the genres to ruminate on our constructs of crime and punishment, yielding lines like this: '. . . most people in prison are there not for the public’s safety but out of vengeance, or hatred, or because if they were let out we would have to help them.' Lazar is a truthteller." —Eve Abrams, The human stories behind mass incarceration, TED Talk

"Zachary Lazar's painstakingly crafted novel Vengeance takes on the complicated issues of race, the socially constructed questions of guilt or innocence in late stage capitalism, cultural appropriation, and redemption. . . . Lazar's prose is that of the slow blues. . . . Flannery O'Connor is here, surely, as is Richard Wright." Zyzzyva

“His investigation into the American underclass proves so subtle, so alert to how a callous system encourages self–destruction, it invites comparisons to In Cold Blood.”The Brooklyn Rail

“A vivid and unblinking view of the justice and penal systems in modern America.”Booklist

"Readers looking for an analytical, thorough examination of the justice system will find much to consider here." Publishers Weekly

“A reminder that fiction can take us to someplace we think we know and make us see it in a new way, or make us wonder if we ever saw it aright to begin with. How do we get at the truth of another person's life? How far can empathy really take us?”The New Orleans Advocate

“Zachary Lazar's Vengeance is an elegant act of imagination and empathy that shows just how easily these can curdle, sometimes irretrievably, into skepticism and self–doubt. It's the story of a writer with a haunted past who meets, on a visit to Angola, a prisoner currently serving a life sentence for murder. Does he belong in prison, or is he, as he credibly claims, an innocent man? Or is the truth only ever a matter of speculation and the stories we choose to tell?”—Joshua Ferris

“Zachary Lazar’s Vengeance is so sharply and skillfully imagined, I had to keep reminding myself: ‘It’s a novel. It’s a novel.’ The story—about an alleged criminal serving time for his supposed crime—is mysterious in all the ways it ought to be; the riddle of his main character is the riddle of our justice system: How do we figure out what’s true, what’s real, what’s fair? Lazar made me think he had genuine tenderness for the people in this book. His writing can be beautifully quiet. But just when I worried he might go soft on me, he’d hit me upside the glasses with such raw clarity that I got a little disoriented, which is precisely what I love about his books.”—Sarah Koenig, This American Life and Serial

“The state of Louisiana is the world’s incarceration capital and Zachary Lazar, a resident of New Orleans, is a world–class novelist, who brings humility and sensitivity to this new book. The urgency of Lazar’s subject, combined with his graceful submission to it, makes Vengeance incredibly timely, and also timeless in its value as art.”—Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers, a National Book Award finalist

“I am stunned by the daring, meticulous, and unsentimental intelligence of this riveting book, and by Zachary Lazar's self–questioning humility and honesty, his amazing powers of observation and human connection. Vengeance is a masterwork, the most important American book I've read this year, and the most moving and mesmerizing.”—Francisco Goldman, author of Say Her Name

“More than any book I’ve read in the twenty–first century, Zachary Lazar’s Vengeance makes the reader reckon with the questions of what’s real, what’s imagined, and why those questions matter more in 2017 than at any other time in our nation. Moving between postmodern spectacle and a tale that implicates the reader, Vengeance reminds me of what is possible through deft, imaginative, ‘real’ storytelling.”—Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division

Review

Praise for I Pity the Poor Immigrant (2014)
A New York Times Notable Book

“With such a novelistic collage, the way things hang together is what counts, and Lazar’s novel makes a powerful and unusual totality of its disparate parts, an impressive cumulative experience.” ―James Wood, The New Yorker

I Pity the Poor Immigrant is one of the most formally daring and innovative fictions I’ve read in years. . . . A truly fascinating work.” ―Chang-rae Lee, Salon

“Brilliant and intriguing.” ―Alan Cheuse, San Francisco Chronicle

“Lazar’s brilliant novel of spiritual discovery features Meyer Lansky, an American journalist, and an Israeli poet’s murder. . . . The book weaves like a melody.” ―Rich Cohen, New York Times Book Review

“Unforgettable. . . . Mr. Lazar concocts a beautifully written hybrid text of remembrance, essay, speculation, and poetic prose.” ―Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

“Zachary Lazar transforms Meyer Lansky from famous mobster to mythic stateless antihero, a figure who might as easily walk out of an airport as out of Sophoclean tragedy.” ―Salvatore Scibona, author of The End, finalist for the 2009 National Book Award for fiction

“This is a true portrait of history―its circling, complicating elements―as understood by characters whose individual parts have been beautifully brought together by a master craftsman.” ―Antonya Nelson, author of Funny Once

“Here Lazar deploys once again that signature mixture of panorama, poetry, and intimate observation that he invented, in his novel Sway.” ―Jaimy Gordon, author of Lord of Misrule, winner of the 2010 National Book Award for fiction

“Lazar is a master of combining disparate stories into one complicated, revealing narrative. In this novel, he has again succeeded in taking the reader through various seemingly unconnected lives and demonstrating how we are all immigrants striving for some inexplicable dream.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for Sway (2008)

“A brilliant novel . . . elegant and intricate. . . . It reads like your parents’ nightmare idea of what would happen to you if you fell under the spell of rock ’n’ roll.” ―Charles Taylor, New York Times Book Review

“Compelling. . . . A richly imagined, hauntingly vivid novel, wherein everyone falls under the sway of someone or something.” ―Gregory Leon Miller, San Francisco Chronicle

“Our investment in these fragile, intensely human figures is profound. . . . Nothing in Sway is writ large, but by carefully mapping the terrain separating the artist from the muse and the genius from the madman, Lazar makes the atmosphere of a decade almost palpable.” ―Adam Mansbach, Boston Globe

“Blending fact and myth, Lazar casts the Rolling Stones, the Manson family, and avant-garde film-maker Kenneth Anger as characters in his dizzying, foreboding shadow history of the sixties.” ―Rolling Stone

“Lazar has created a powerful, infernal prism through which to view the potent, still-rippling contradictions of the late sixties. It’s no mean feat.” ―Mark Rozzo, Los Angeles Times Book Review

“An astonishing novel. . . . Lazar gives us access to the personalities that drove a decade. At the same time he shines a light into the human condition that is at work in every generation.” ―Stephen Elliott, LA Weekly

“It’s not easy to say exactly why I was so blown away by Sway. . . . But I hope many, many readers will soon find themselves in this position of inexpressible admiration.” ―Margot Livesey

“Joseph Conrad said that fiction is primarily a visual art; he would have loved Zachary Lazar’s Sway for the thousand indelible visual details of a startling originality―and for Lazar’s ability to shine a light into the contemporary heart of darkness.” ―Edmund White

“A coruscating, kaleidoscopic vision of the 60s, Sway is at once an intimate re-imagining of iconic figures and an expansive meditation on an epoch that reverberates to this day. An enthralling read, shot through with flashes of edgy beauty and dark wisdom.” ―Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl

“Zachary Lazar begins where Joan Didion left off in his fiercely imagined, kaleidoscopic novel.” ―Jonathan Ringen, Rolling Stone

Praise for Evening’s Empire: The Story of my Father’s Murder(2009)

“An amazing feat of filial piety. . . . Reading Evening’s Empire, you can’t help but remember Death of a Salesman. ‘Attention must be paid,’ Willy Loman’s anguished wife recites, and the same imperative applies here.” ―Carolyn See, Washington Post

In Cold Blood and The Executioner’s Song are marked by their bloodless eloquence. . . . The same can be said of Zachary Lazar’s remarkable Evening’s Empire.” ―John Anderson, Newsday

Evening’s Empire is a remarkable work of nonfiction in which reporting and imaginative empathy combine. Lazar’s story of the murder of his father is spooky, sharply focused, loving, beautiful, and richly redolent of a recent America now vanished into the past.” ―Ian Frazier, author of Family and Travels in Siberia

“When irrefutable facts are few, the wise author resorts to atmosphere. . . . Evening’s Empire is an artful exercise in reportorial chiaroscuro.” ―Amanda Heller, Boston Globe

Evening’s Empire reveals a writer with emotional heft, terse prose, and searing insights into the complexities of a criminal world that must have looked pretty harmless―until it suddenly wasn’t.” ―Michael Miller, Bookforum

“Zachary Lazar channels Joan Didion in this unapologetically literary account of his father’s murder.” ―Tom Beer, Newsday

“Although Evening’s Empire is categorized as both memoir and true crime, much of the book reads as a novel. . . . The multiplication of Warren’s intrigues and a cumulative sense of doom supply its narrative drive.” ―Laura Miller, Salon.com

Evening’s Empire is a brilliantly conceived, genre-bending story that features taut, exquisite prose about the murder of Zachary Lazar’s father, via modes of the memoir, the novel, and investigative journalism.” ―Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker

Evening’s Empire may be as close to watching a Scorsese film as one can get on the page.” ―Nancy Rommelmann, Oregonian

“The style is gorgeous―understated, precise, atmospheric. Like a pointillist painter, Lazar gives us vivid dots that are all the more powerful because we have to do the work of connecting them.” ―Joan Wickersham, Los Angeles Times

“Zachary Lazar has managed an amazing feat―to evoke both Joan Didion’s fierce intelligence and Truman Capote’s eerie ability to enter into the unknown. And then there’s the deep river of heartbreak flowing beneath it all. Evening’s Empire is an incandescent masterpiece.” ―Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

“You’ll want to put this one in the can’t-put-it-down pile.” ―Frederick Barthelme, author of Double Down


Product details

  • Publisher : Catapult (February 13, 2018)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1936787776
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1936787777
  • Item Weight : 12 ounces
  • Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.68 x 8.2 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 8 ratings

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