Zachary Lazar is the author of four books, including the novel Sway, the memoir Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder, and the novel I Pity the Poor Immigrant, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014. His work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, NPR’s All Things Considered, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. Lazar is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. In 2015, he won the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New Orleans, where he is on the faculty at Tulane University.
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. 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. Part crime story, part spiritual quest, I Pity the Poor Immigrant is also a novelistic consideration of Jewish identity.