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Hope: A Tragedy  By  cover art

Hope: A Tragedy

By: Shalom Auslander
Narrated by: Shalom Auslander
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Publisher's summary

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

Critic reviews

“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)

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Darkly humorous and a little disturbing

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 i