Brand: Catapult
Current Stock: 1
UPC: 9781936787777
Author: Zachary Lazar
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Catapult (February 13, 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936787776
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936787777
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8 inches

As the narrator attempts to sort out what happened in King’s life―paying visits to his devoted mother, his estranged young daughter and her mother, his girlfriend, his brother, and his cousin―the writer’s own sense of identity begins to feel more and more like a fiction. He is one of the “free people” while Kendrick, who studies theology and philosophy, will never get his only wish, expressed plainly as “I just need to get out of here.” The dichotomy between their lives forces the narrator to confront the violence in his own past, and also to reexamine American notions of guilt and penance, racial bias, and the inherent perversity of punitive justice.

It is common knowledge that we have an incarceration crisis in our country. Vengeance, by way of vivid storytelling, helps us to understand the failure of empathy and imagination that causes it.



"[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

“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.” ―John Domini, 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, Vengeancereminds me of what is possible through deft, imaginative, ‘real’ storytelling.” ―Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division

Praise for I Pity the Poor Immigrant (2014)
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)