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Jewball [Kindle Edition]

Neal Pollack
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $3.99
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  • Length: 256 pages
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Book Description

1937. The gears of world war have begun to grind, but Inky Lautman, star point guard for the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, America's greatest basketball team, is dealing with his own problems.

His coach has unwittingly incurred a massive gambling debt to the Bund, a group of American Nazis. His main basketball rival is self-righteously leading public protests against homegrown American fascism. And his girlfriend wants him to join a Jewish student organization that's all talk and no action. It's more than Inky can deliver. He just wants to play ball and occasionally beat people up for money.

When the Bund comes calling for what it’s owed, Inky has to make a stand for his ragtag bunch of teammates and the coach that got them into this mess. With the Bund closing in, Inky's game isn’t just basketball anymore. It becomes a battle that pits Jewish pride against Nazi fascism.

The tides of history are flowing against a guy like Inky. Can he make his free throws and still make it through the season alive? Get ready. This…is Jewball.

Editorial Reviews


"With his new novel, the author of Alternadad and Stretch steps boldly into the world of direct digital publishing."--Propeller Magazine.
"An intriguing experiment...Pollack has chutzpah." --The Jewish Daily Foward.

About the Author

Neal Pollack is the author of the cult classic The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, the novel Never Mind the Pollacks, and the memoirs Alternadad and Stretch: The Unlikely Making of a Yoga Dude. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Slate, Salon, GQ, Vanity Fair, and Maxim. He lives with his wife and son in Austin, Texas.

Product Details

  • File Size: 515 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (March 27, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078XGBTQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,727 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Huzzah! A novel with fighting, sex, drugs and sports! November 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is a scene in this book that is so tense that it caused me to break into sweats and miss my subway stop. Jewball is a fast paced, action packed novel halfway between a noir detective story and a sports history biopic. I don't like sports or crime novels, but I loved this book.

Neal Pollack is a very talented author. You may remember his comedy and satire writing from the early days of the McSweeney's publishing world. Or, you may have read one of his hilarious and humanizing memoirs. Well, now he's written a real, proper smash-em-up novel with real characters and plots and both sex scenes and basketball scenes that will make your palms moist.

Buying this as an ebook is a steal - if you were buying this book from an international corporate conglomerate instead of directly from Neal, you would be paying 5 times as much.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neal is the Baller! November 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Jewball is great, unexpected fun. It was a fast weekend read, but I had to slow down at the end because I wanted more. Neal Pollack combines two unlikely elements, his sharp wit and the right touch of noir. Wait, plus basketball! Set in 1930's Philadelphia, the novel pulls of the unexpected: with the dark shadow of World War 2 and the Holocaust looming, there's an unexpected exuberance and optimism for the lives of inner city Jews in America.

-- G. Xavier Robillard, author of Captain Freedom
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Neal Pollack has done it again. Breaking the bounds of any typical book, "Jewball" is a challenge to encapsulate or box into a type. You can read about the concept, but trust a picky reader -- this is absolutely worth a buy, even if you're NOT:

A: Jewish
B: A white supremacist
C: A huge basketball fan
D: Used to references to peach baskets (no, that's not a dirty term)
E: Aware of the healing properties of brisket

"Jewball" moves fast as heck, bouncing from character to character, city to city, as fast as the starring 1930s Philadelphia basketball team does. The characters are complicated -- the protagonist is no one-note hero -- and there's a lot of action on an off the basketball court.

Even if I weren't a fan of Neal's previous work, the concept here would have caught my eye and interested me. And, as an author-sympathizer, I will always do my best to support indepdendent publishing. So if you're up for a great, fast, intelligent read with a bit of blood, history, and a good dose of smart-ass, download this book (or get the paperback, which I understand is in the works as of this review date).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Producers - Take Note! June 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved it! I'm not Jewish and have absolutely no interest in Basketball but I read a 'sample' of this book and couldn't stop! The characters are so vividly described, I was casting the movie in my head as I saw the story unfold. I truly hope somebody picks it up and has the sense to do little, if any, re-writing for the script!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening May 19, 2014
By acf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I did enjoy reading this book for its' historical content. Upon finishing the book I realized that I learned a great deal. I never knew there was a Jewish Pro basketball team or the Bund operating so heavily in the US before we entered the war. On a personal level I could have increased my enjoyment if the language were a little less sprinkled with 4 letter words.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich semi-historic story May 30, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"There was ball, and there was Jewball, and if they were gonna win, they'd better demonstrate the difference, with emphasis."

I was leery when I first saw this book on Amazon's virtual bookshelf. I couldn't tell whether the title was pejorative or respectful. But based on the book's description and the low price at the time, I decided to give it a whirl. I'm glad I did.

A goy like me had no idea of the role that basketball played for urban Jews in the early 20th century. Unlike games like football that require large fields to play, basketball can be played on city playgrounds and inside gymnasiums, which made it the perfect game for big cities.

Jewball is the story of young Inky Lautman who is recruited to play in the SPHA:

"If no one played basketball quite like the Jews, then no Jews played it quite like the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association. People respected them when they traveled around. But in Philly during the SPHA's heyday, which lasted from the mid-twenties until the mid-forties, they were heroes..."

I loved this story. I loved the characters and I loved the setting. It takes place during the pre-war years in and around Philadelphia. I loved the exposure to a culture I'm not completely familiar with. Luckily I read it on my Kindle so I could look up a lot of the Yiddish words and phrases that were foreign to me.

Writer Neal Pollack admits to taking some liberties with the history, but at the end of the book he includes a "Notes on the History" section where he clears up the facts versus his fiction. And aside from a few parts that used a little too much kitsch for me, I thought Pollack's writing was great. He struck a very comforting balance between noir, romance, and sports.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Must reading for the current Jewish Basketball league January 21, 2013
By JordanL
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A quick read and appears to be historically accurate, secondary to pre WWII anti-antisemitism. The characterizations of the stratified Jewish classes, reasons for immigration and the basketball option for Jews at that period of history filled in the 'back story' of Jewish immigrant success as well as political leanings at the time.

Kids playing Jewish basketball now would do well to understand where their roots came from.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not great literature but a good read.
Interesting to follow Philly names and events since I am a native of Philly. Not great literature but a good read.
Published 3 months ago by Allan Samuels
4.0 out of 5 stars Good presentation about the way things were
I knew most of these people, sat next to Eddie Gottlieb in synagogue when I was a child. Good presentation about the way things were. I sent a copy to each of my children
Published 4 months ago by Saul Eisenstat
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Neat story. Would incorporates history with fiction.
Published 4 months ago by SoCALgirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great story about Jews, basketball heritage and pre-WW2 America.
Published 4 months ago by Dennis Horwitz
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice fictionalized retrospective on the early days of basketball when...
Nice fictionalized retrospective on the early days of basketball when Jewish players were significant contributors to the advancement and growth of the sport. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Bob Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the writing style
I loved the writing style, the characters, and the information about a topic I knew little about. Also incredibly funny!
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Basketball at a dark time in th U.S.
The story takes place as the depression is giving way to WW II. The cover kind of tells it all, but younger readers may be surprised to realize the NBA didn't always exist. Read more
Published 7 months ago by G. Guth
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and Gripping
Great read for anyone who might have been attacked verbally or physically for their ethnic or religeius beliefs. Read more
Published 7 months ago by zeodave
5.0 out of 5 stars The SPHA Gang
A bit of little known history realisticAlly and violently portrayed in a fast moving action-packed novel I can see Zero Mostel as Gotlieb and the young DeNero as Inki Gott Sei... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ted Strehan
4.0 out of 5 stars funny, great dialogue
A quick read, funny, great dialogue, and interesting.
Published 8 months ago by The Good Wife
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More About the Author

Neal Pollack (born March 1, 1970) is an American satirist, novelist, short story writer, and journalist. He lives in Austin, Texas. Pollack has written eight books: The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, Never Mind the Pollacks, Beneath the Axis of Evil, Alternadad, Stretch, Jewball, Downward-Facing Death, and Open Your Heart.

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