Writer to Writer: Zachary Lazar and Dana Spiotta

Thursday May 15, 2014
07:00 pm

Tags: Event









  Photo credit: Deborah Luster   |   Photo credit: Jessica Marx  

Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia, interviewed Zachary Lazar on his latest novel, I Pity the Poor Immigrant - part crime story, part spiritual quest - set in Israel, New York, and Las Vegas. The event included a reading, discussion, author Q&A, and wine reception.



About I Pity the Poor Immigrant (Little, Brown and Company)

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.

"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



Zachary Lazar is the author of three previous books, including Sway, which was chosen as a Best Book of 2008 by the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, Publisher’s Weekly, Newsday, and other publications, and the memoir Evening’s Empire: The Story of My Father’s Murder which was named a Best Book of 2009 by the Chicago Tribune. Lazar is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. His articles and reviews have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, BOMB, and other publications. He lives in New Orleans, where he is on the creative writing faculty at Tulane University.


Dana Spiotta is the author of three novels: Lightning Field, published by (Scribner, 2001); Eat the Document (Scribner, 2006), which was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award and a recipient of the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and Stone Arabia (Scribner, 2011), which was a National Book Critics Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book of 2011. Stone Arabia was named a best book of 2011 by The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Entertainment WeeklyThe Believer, and Salon. Spiotta was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2008, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow  in 2009, and she won the 2008-9 Rome Prize form the American Academy in Rome. She is an Associate Professor in the Syracuse University MFA program.


Dana Spiotta was last at the Center for an Authors and Editors event. Watch it here.