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The Last Jew: A Novel

de Yoram Kaniuk

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851250,273 (4.17)3
"The Last Jew is a sweeping saga that captures the troubled history and culture of an entire people through the prism of one family. From the chilling opening scene of a soldier returning home in a fog of battle trauma, the novel moves backward through time and across continents until Yoram Kaniuk has succeeded in bringing to life the twentieth century's most unsettling legacy: the anxieties of modern Europe, which begat the Holocaust, and in turn the birth of Israel and the swirling cauldron that is the Middle East." "Following the ravages of World War II, Ebenezer Schneerson finds that although he has no recollection of his family or childhood, he can, at will, recite Einstein's theory of relativity, the entire canon of Yiddish poetry, and the genealogical histories of any number of extinguished shtetls; he has somehow become the final repository for all of Jewish culture. Samuel Lipker, a fellow survivor, makes money off of Ebenezer's macabre talents, trotting him around Europe to regale spooked cabaret audiences with his uncanny memory. Later, in the newly founded state of Israel, Ebenezer's son, Boaz has an equally bizarre career, lying to bereaved parents whose children have died in the 1948 War of Independence and creating a fictitious memorial industry." "The Last Jew is an ingenious tapestry whose design becomes clear only gradually. Alternately tragic, absurd, enigmatic, and heartbreaking - not unlike the Bible itself - it is an exploration of Jewish identity and the multitude of disparate, often contradictory shapes it has taken in the last century."--BOOK JACKET.… (mais)
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I once met Kaniuk (we shared a publisher, I of course as translator only). I was so thrilled meeting him, that I didn't find the courage to tell him that I read this enormous book - even though I had inside information, and knew that he thought nobody had...
Instead, I mentioned another book of his, a brilliant, sarcastic, and surreal novella titled "Nevelot" ("Carcasses") where a group of old men sets out to murder young people in Tel Aviv.
(I lent Nevelot out to a friend - never saw it again... didn't include it in my library. But I do remember how good it was).
1 vote mirmir | Jul 7, 2007 |
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"The Last Jew is a sweeping saga that captures the troubled history and culture of an entire people through the prism of one family. From the chilling opening scene of a soldier returning home in a fog of battle trauma, the novel moves backward through time and across continents until Yoram Kaniuk has succeeded in bringing to life the twentieth century's most unsettling legacy: the anxieties of modern Europe, which begat the Holocaust, and in turn the birth of Israel and the swirling cauldron that is the Middle East." "Following the ravages of World War II, Ebenezer Schneerson finds that although he has no recollection of his family or childhood, he can, at will, recite Einstein's theory of relativity, the entire canon of Yiddish poetry, and the genealogical histories of any number of extinguished shtetls; he has somehow become the final repository for all of Jewish culture. Samuel Lipker, a fellow survivor, makes money off of Ebenezer's macabre talents, trotting him around Europe to regale spooked cabaret audiences with his uncanny memory. Later, in the newly founded state of Israel, Ebenezer's son, Boaz has an equally bizarre career, lying to bereaved parents whose children have died in the 1948 War of Independence and creating a fictitious memorial industry." "The Last Jew is an ingenious tapestry whose design becomes clear only gradually. Alternately tragic, absurd, enigmatic, and heartbreaking - not unlike the Bible itself - it is an exploration of Jewish identity and the multitude of disparate, often contradictory shapes it has taken in the last century."--BOOK JACKET.

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