In one story strand of Zachary Lazar’s compelling new novel, I Pity the Poor Immigrant (Little, Brown & Co.), the reader meets a real-life personage, Meyer Lansky, the notorious American gangster, who petitioned the Israeli government for citizenship, in 1972, and was denied. Lansky’s story in Israel (with a mistress, a Shoah survivor) is told by fictional American journalist Hannah Groff, who also investigates the mysterious death of an Israeli poet, in 2008. Groff says her “book” is “a Jewish story… unflattering… negative in many ways.” Lazar’s previous book, Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder, a work of nonfiction, looked into the murder of the author’s father, Ed Lazar, an accountant from Minneapolis. — M.S.
(American Jewish World, 7.18.14)