This is the latest installment in a weekly column by Fwis, a graphic design group that blogs on book jacket design. The Fwis designers judge a recent book by its cover each week on PublishersWeekly.com.
Title:The Lazarus Project
Author: Aleksandar Hemon
Designer: Jamie Keenan
A fictional study of an actual murder wrapped in a keen commentary on American culture, The Lazarus Project is comprised of a long series of observations and investigations which allow the author to sound off on everything from Abu Ghraib to his theories on the unsolved homicide of a Jewish immigrant by the Chicago chief of police back in 1908. With two parallel stories running in tandem—the turn-of-the-century murder of Lazarus Averbuch, and the protagonist's investigation of said murder—the plot jumps around quite a bit between present day and past events.
The design for the cover matches suit. The old paper and hand-cut elements do well to reference the aged violence of one half of the story, while the modern photograph of the iris keeps it from getting too weighed down in the historical. The only element which seems out of the place is the pseudo-reflected portrait seen in the eye. Not only is it a black and white photo on top of a full-color eyeball, it is also mysteriously exempt from any concave lens distortion. Interestingly, the portrait is that of the actual Lazarus Averbuch, shortly after his murder. This fact redeems its presence, but it would have been nice to see it treated with the same finesse seen on the rest of this otherwise well-designed cover.