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Publisher's Summary

These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place Englander at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction.

The title story, inspired by Raymond Carver’s masterpiece, is a provocative portrait of two marriages in which the Holocaust is played out as a devastating parlor game. In the outlandishly dark “Camp Sundown” vigilante justice is undertaken by a group of geriatric campers in a bucolic summer enclave. “Free Fruit for Young Widows” is a small, sharp study in evil, lovingly told by a father to a son. “Sister Hills” chronicles the history of Israel’s settlements from the eve of the Yom Kippur War through the present, a political fable constructed around the tale of two mothers who strike a terrible bargain to save a child. Marking a return to two of Englander’s classic themes, “Peep Show” and “How We Avenged the Blums” wrestle with sexual longing and ingenuity in the face of adversity and peril. And “Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother’s Side” is suffused with an intimacy and tenderness that break new ground for a writer who seems constantly to be expanding the parameters of what he can achieve in the short form.

Beautiful and courageous, funny and achingly sad, Englander’s work is a revelation.

©2012 Nathan Englander (P)2012 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Englander's new collection of stories tells the tangled truth of life in prose that, as ever, surprises the reader with its gnarled beauty…. Certifiable masterpieces of contemporary short-story art." (Michael Chabon)
"A resounding testament to the power of the short story from a master of the form. Englander's latest hooks you with the same irresistible intimacy, immediacy and deliciousness of stumbling in on a heated altercation that is absolutely none of your business; it's what great fiction is all about." (Téa Obreht)
"It takes an exceptional combination of moral humility and moral assurance to integrate fine-grained comedy and large-scale tragedy as daringly as Nathan Englander does." (Jonathan Franzen)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Englander at his best!

Always an insightful and provocative writer, Englander reaches deeply into his subject matter, complex as it is, to new heights as both an observer of his chosen culture and as a writer. The sensitive and intelligent aural telling of each story matches the writing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • deborah
  • Saint Paul, MN, United States
  • 03-01-12

What I Talk about When I Talk About This Book

If you could sum up What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank in three words, what would they be?

Captivating, Ambiguous, Touching

What did you like best about this story?

Each story was both specific to being Jewish and universal in the tale it had to tell. Although the characters were strangers I was sure I had met them somewhere in life.

Which scene was your favorite?

In the first story the four characters get drunk and high together in a very unexpected situation. It felt very real to me and I had to play it over because I laughed so hard in parts.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The book made me laugh and cry. It was moving and sad in many parts. The story The Reader left me feeling empty and longing for the past.

Any additional comments?

This book moves at rapid pace and each story is just the right length for a workout or a car ride home. You will not want to stop listening even if your workout is over or if you have arched your destination.<br/>

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Single minded and well expressed

The title story is the best criticism of the entire collection. Obsessed with the recent Jewish history the author manages to create an elevated atmosphere - in the best of them. The narrators add a lot of gravity and emotion.

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  • KEVIN
  • United States
  • 06-30-12

Unexpected

This was a poetic mix of short stories, some so different from the others that it was as if they were by different authors, but all held together with a common theme of the tension between the old and contemporary Jewish experiences. As a non-Jew who is interested in and studies Judaism, I wanted a contemporary, literary perspective on Jewish life that included both observant and secular points of view. I got much more than I expected. Some of the stories are light and easy, some dark and troubling, one read as a writing from the Ketuvim, which is to say biblical. A memorable listen, unexpected in its broadness, affecting in its humanness.

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A Treasure Chest Of Amazing Stories

Each and every story will hold your attention for a number of reasons. The subject matter of this collection will amaze you. I don't want to give anything away but I thoroughly enjoyed them all. All of these stories will plant a little seed in your brain and for some time after you will recall story themes and continue to be entertained long after your listening is over. Each story has a different reader including one read by the author and each reader is a great match for his or her story. Just listen and you will know what I'm talking about.

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A Laugh Out Loud Book

While I am not usually the laugh out loud type, even when things ARE funny, I can honestly say I did so while reading this book! Intrigued by the premise, I was eager to read it. The subject, Anne Frank, has been close to my heart since I read the diary at age ll and I thought it might be offensive but it was such a ludicrous idea for a story line that it worked.