I Pity the Poor Immigrant

  • by Zachary Lazar
  • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
  • 7 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The stunning new novel by the author of Sway is another "brilliant portrayal of life as a legend" (Margot Livesey).
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.


What the Critics Say

"This novel of living myths and the way we manufacture them could not have found a more perfectly paradoxical backdrop: Jerusalem, the spiritual beginning of the West; and Vegas, capital of the other West, where our oldest places are restaged for fun and profit. 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 National Book Award and winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award])
"Here's a truly exciting novel. The conception is bold, the execution mesmerizing. Zachary Lazar makes the old stories dangerous and urgent again, and reveals the terror beneath our tidy versions of the now." (Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land and The Ask)
"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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Intriguing novel, but narrator doesn't get it

This is, among other subjects, a fascinating retelling of the life of the American mobster Meyer Lansky, The problem for this listener is that the narrator mispronounces nearly every proper name in the book. This is a shame, since the novel is a rich fictional rendering of real events and people.
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- patricia bitker-golan


Was this a story about Israel? Was this a mom story? This book had no idea what it wanted to be
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- NY Reader

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-08-2014
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio