I PITY THE POOR IMMIGRANT
By Zachary Lazar
Little, Brown, April 2014
In 1972, the American gangster Meyer Lansky petitions the Israeli government for citizenship. His request is denied, and he is returned to the U.S. to stand trial. He leaves behind a mistress in Tel Aviv, a Holocaust survivor named Gila Konig.
In 2009, American journalist Hannah Groff travels to Israel to investigate the killing of an Israeli writer. She soon finds herself inside a web of violence that takes in the American and Israeli Mafias, the Biblical figure of King David, and the modern state of Israel. As she connects the dots between the murdered writer, Lansky, Gila, and her own father, Hannah becomes increasingly obsessed with the dark side of her heritage. Part crime story, part spiritual quest, I Pity the Poor Immigrant is also a novelistic consideration of Jewish identity.
"Zachary Lazar...crafts singular narratives out of diverse sources... He seizes the concrete, knows how to paint the brief vivid picture, and draws the reader into a beguiling air of lost connections... 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 work of intricate and precise mystery, a book that is like a bold monument in an empty desert, a thing built of dread, and silences, and dazzling elegance, by a worldly and masterful hand."
— Rachel Kushner, author of 2013 National Book Award finalist The Flamethrowers
"I Pity the Poor Immigrant conveys on every page a radical intensity of emotion and intellect. It's epic in scope and yet, in bursts of fine flinty prose, of great economy. Plus it has gangsters in it, and murder, and old lovers, and, above all, a father and daughter whose story turns out to be a heartbreaker."
— Joshua Ferris, author of And Then We Came To The End
About the Author
Zachary Lazar is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. He lives in New Orleans, where he is on the creative writing faculty at Tulane University.