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Enemies, A Love Story Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reissue edition (April 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374515220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374515225
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #319,117 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"One is forever suspended between laughter and tears by this rich and marvelous novel."--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

Language Notes

Text: English, Yiddish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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You can truly feel his love for the women in his life.
Singer's style in this novel is quick-paced and straightforward with remarkable dialogue.
It is a humorous tale that is also sad and poignant and true.
Paul McGrath

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Paul McGrath on June 29, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Imagine being a Jew in Brooklyn, NY in 1949. Just about everyone you know has been through the Nazi camps. Just about everyone you know has lost husbands, wives, children, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and sometimes all of the above. Just about everyone you know has survived years of awful, humiliating, degrading and terrifying experiences. How would you cope? How would you maintain your faith in God? How would you begin--not to mention maintain--a relationship based on love, one with hope for the future and the dream of children?
This is the story of Herman Broder, a fortyish Polish expatriate. He was not a survivor of the camps. Instead, he escaped them by spending three years in a barn owned by the mother of his illiterate peasant servant, Yadwiga, who hid and fed him. In helpless gratitude, and for no other reason, he married her after the war so that she could come to the U. S.
Herman also has a mistress, Masha. Masha is married but is separated from her husband. Masha spent years in the camps. She is very beautiful. She smokes incessantly, speaks rapidly, is a bundle of nervous energy and she can't sleep. "If I do . . . then I'm back with them immediately. They're dragging me, beating me, chasing me. They come running from all sides, like hounds after a hare." She lives in a cramped apartment with her mother whom she loves but whose strictly orthodox ways are a reminder to her every day of her wayward current life . . . and possibly also the life she led in the camps from which she escaped.
Herman ekes out a living by ghost-writing for a showy rabbi, but tells Yadwiga that he sells books out of town so he can stay with Masha for days at a time. He doesn't want anyone else to know that he works for the rabbi and doesn't want the rabbi to know where he lives.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Hutton on July 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Isaac Bashevis Singer was an idea novelist, in the way that Turgenev was. He fashioned his plots and characters around the questions he wanted to explore, and never let them get out of his control. But, like Turgenev, Singer was a great writer and never let his characters and plots become secondary. His writing is always entertaining as well as enlightening. Enemies, A Love Story is a case in point.

Herman Broder is a Jewish man living in New York City in the late 1940's, having survived the Holocaust in Poland hiding from the Nazis. Now the war is over, but Herman is no more at liberty than he was then. Believing his first wife died in a concentration camp, Herman has married again; he also has a mistress; to both women he lies about his work, and to his boss he lies about his women. Then his first wife shows up alive, and now he has to lie to her too. Herman is always on the verge of running, he must relentlessly cover his tracks in case he has to escape again. This sounds like a comedy of errors, and Singer finds the humor in Herman's plight, but he never loses sight of the tragedy which produced Herman's obsession with escape. This is a man so damaged that he can't really live anymore, and that's the question Singer is exploring with Enemies: is it possible to be whole again after going through the Holocaust? And if not, is it possible to live with the pieces that are left? Consider Vladek Spiegelman in Art Spiegelman's Maus, also a Holocaust survivor who only made it through sheer luck and a relentless hoarding and parceling out of otherwise mundane and unimportant items; now, though he's wealthy and free to do as he pleases, he can't stop hoarding, just in case.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Brent Mann on August 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Singer's ear for the way people really spoke was impeccable, and his gifts in this area are on display beautifully in "Enemies." The dialogue in this book is unmatched in fiction.
By the way, it's funny, sad and ironic that Amazon visitors have written exactly two reviews of "Enemies," while several hundred have been written about "The Bridges of Madison County." I believe that Singer himself would just smile at this fact.
Final thought: Read this book. It's one of the ten best novels of all time.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Petralia VINE VOICE on December 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
How does one cope with such a thing? You know? The Holocaust.

It was the Holocaust that took Herman's parents, wife and two children. He manages to survive by hiding in a hayloft. For three long years, a former servant in his home, Yadwiga, a plain, uneducated but loving Polish woman, keeps him hidden and alive. After the war, we find Yadwiga and Herman married and living in Brooklyn. For other Holocaust survivors, Brooklyn represents opportunity, a sense of re-birth. All around him, new families are being formed out of what is left of old ones. Old customs are being renewed. The old prayers are said. Feasts are held. Traditions prevail. Life goes on. The future is hopeful, but not for Herman. Herman merely exists. He has a job as a ghost-writer for a famous rabbi. Herman is good at writing inspirational messages, messages of hope. But, Herman is not a believer. Not anymore. Not since the Holocaust. To Herman, God is either dead or an enemy. God is out to get him. Herman has a mistress, Masha, a camp survivor. His life is complicated. Then, as it turns out, his first wife who supposedly died in the camps, she's alive. Now Herman has two wives and a mistress. Complicated. They all want a piece of him. Emotionally, he retreats to the hayloft. But, emotionally, Herman is already dead, as dead as he would have been had he been found and sent to the camps, as dead as the rest of them, as dead as his faith in God. In the hayloft, minute by minute, day by dragging day, Herman was already gone
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