The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: No one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there. To begin again. To start anew.
But it isn't quite working out that way. His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won't stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one he bought. And when, one night, Kugel discovers history - a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history - hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.
The critically acclaimed writer Shalom Auslander's debut novel is a hilarious and disquieting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.
©2012 Shalom Auslander (P)2012 Penguin
“Staggeringly nervy… Other fiction writers have gotten this fresh with Anne Frank. But they don’t get much funnier… [Auslander] is an absurdist with a deep sense of gravitas… It’s a tall order for Mr. Auslander to raise an essentially comic novel to this level of moral contemplation. Yet Hope: A Tragedy succeeds shockingly well.” (New York Times)
“Poisonously funny…. Like an unintentional bark of laughter at a funeral.” (Entertainment Weekly)
“A caustic comic tour de force.” (NPR)
I grew up horrified by the Holocaust. I read Anne Frank when I was in junior high. In high school I read a three-volume documentary of antisemitism throughout history. I have to admit that I didn't know what to think about a book whose theme is, "never forgetting the Holocaust is not the same as talking about it all the time." I'm not sure even now that it's OK for a non-Jew to think this book is funny. OK, I admit it. I think it's funny. But I'm a little uncomfortable with thinking that.
klotzen, nicht klekern!
Very high. I've bought a bunch of audiobooks, so I don't have number rank.
when main character is musing over whom among his neighbors would let his family stay in their attic if
A deadpan delivery that totally works.
The feel good story of the year.....
Kudos to Shalom! Irreverent doesn't even come close. I am a better person for buying this audiobook.
I honestly write these reviews in a spirit of sharing and helpfulness. I have no idea why I always end up sounding so snotty...
I don't think this book is funny. I don't mean that in a humorless - "you shouldn't joke about the holocaust" - kind of way. What I mean is this: however appealing Auslander's prose, there isn't enough wit in the world to lighten this deeply disturbing, painfully stagnant story of the holocaust.
I heard Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan compare the novel (favorably) to someone dressing his daughter as Jon Bonet Ramsey for Halloween. Weird analogy. I honestly don't see how there can be a 'taste' issue for a book that could not be more horrifically depressing. Only the undead and buried are suffrering here.
I love Shalom Auslander's TAL-ish voice and his sharp, insightful prose. I've given the overall recording three stars because I think the run-in-place, extended-short-story-esque plot would be better as a read then as a listen. As a listen, it's fairly relentlessly grim.
Yes I would because the author/reader made it humorous with inflections, etc. I read it for a book club and would not have read it otherwise, so the audio version allowed me to do so more easily/quickly.
The ending. The interactions between Kugel and his mother as well as the scene at the Realtor's office stuck with me. Also his mother's comments about the Armenian genocide as "contrasted" to the holocaust.
Kugel & his mother.
Others have said it all on audible & amazon reviews much better than I can. I will say in wanting to discuss the book right afterword, I read many of those reviews to help me process the book. There are some great ones out there. I wouldn't have read this book without it being assigned in my book club. But I am very glad I did. It is one that will stick with me. I do think Mr. Auslander could have accomplished the same poignant result with a shorter version of the book. However, in looking back, it's interesting to think about how the protagonist's neuroses grew & took hold.
This unusual novel is DEFINITELY not for everyone. It is a story, written in first person, of the son of wannabe holocaust survivor who (the son, not his mother) discovers Anne Frank (now an old lady) living in his attic. It is written as a bit of a "shticky" monologue that is hilarious at times, but often over the top as in: was it over the top? Why did I say it was over the top? I don't really know. Sometimes I think I liked it but other times I was't so sure. And how could I be expected to know..... and so on.
One of my favorites because I laughed so hard! I can't believe what the author got away with saying! I am sure there was lessons in life here as well, but I might have missed them because I was so entertained. I should listen again maybe! And try to be more serious.
Finding Ann Frank! Of course.
Love them all.
Laughter, much laughter.
Creative, funny in a dry, and at times, even sardonic style that is so like Auslander. I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as Foreskin's Lament.
Funny and absolutely desperate, great tale about the huge human tragedy, here wittily mocked and the small things in every one life that could became unmanageable problems
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