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Meshugah Hardcover – April, 1994


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux (T); 1st edition (April 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374208476
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374208479
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,240,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Free love, paranormal phenomena, God, the Holocaust and avant-garde art are among the preoccupations of refugees from Hitler's Europe who cluster in Manhattan in 1953. Singer's extraordinary posthumous novel concerns a romantic triangle (or perhaps more aptly, pentagram) one apex of which is Miriam Zalkin, a 27-year-old Polish emigre and death-camp survivor. Miriam worships 67-year-old Max Aberdam, a brash, womanizing (though married) stock-market speculator; she wants to divorce her unbalanced, gun-toting poet husband; and she has an affair with Aaron Greidinger, 47, Yiddish newspaper columnist and novelist (a character very much like Singer himself). As if this weren't complicated enough, Tzlova, Max's housemaid and ex-mistress, has an affair with Aaron; and Max's wife, a medium, receives messages from Karl Marx and Jesus. When Aaron stumbles on secrets from Miriam's past--she was a teen prostitute with Nazi clients and a camp kapo who beat Jewish prisoners--he faces a moral dilemma that is only resolved after Max, Miriam and Aaron meet in Israel. The novel's title (Yiddish for crazy) evokes Singer's pessimistic vision of the world as an insane asylum, but also conveys something of the manic energy he brings to a deceptively comic tale that distills his marvelous storytelling gifts.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Life certainly can be "meshugah," especially when love is involved. In this third posthumously published novel, Singer explores the complications and contradictions that arise when a young Holocaust survivor named Miriam falls simultaneously in love with two older men: Aaron, a 47-year-old writer for the Forward who is seemingly patterned after Singer himself, and Max, a 67-year-old bon vivant speculator who goes bust, both financially and physically. That Max and Miriam are both married to others adds yet another twist to the situation, as does the truth about the way in which Miriam managed her survival. Ever the consummate storyteller, Singer understands that there is a bit of God and the devil in everyone and that passion cannot be explained. He also both celebrates and mourns a Yiddish culture that is rapidly vanishing. "Who will know a generation from now how the Jews of Eastern Europe lived, how they spoke, what they ate?" asks Max. Thanks to Singer and the finely drawn characters that inhabit his fiction, many more than would have otherwise. This typically "Singer" tale belongs in most libraries.
- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
I first read "The Slave" and fell in love with Singer's simple yet vivid story telling. Meshugah did not disappoint. I enjoyed reading about three colorful characters (Polish refugees) involved in a bizarre love triangle. Meshugah gives great insight on life after the Holocaust. Despite the horrors of WWII, Judaism, the Yiddish language, and love continue in New York City.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Esther Nebenzahl on May 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the story of a group of pre-war Yiddish intellectuals transplanted from Warsaw to New York. The main character, Aaron Greidinger, is a short story and novelist writer as much as I.B.Singer was in real life. His friend Max, long thought dead, reappears and introduces his mistress Miriam. A love triangle forms, upon which other triangles will be formed with the introduction of several other characters. Aaron is attracted to Miriam and sees her as a symbolism of renewal in life and faith, but as he discovers the horrible truths behind her façade, he is led to believe the world will never heal; although he respects God he is unable to love a God who has shown no mercy upon his creation. The novel has a philosophical despairing tone, an overall feeling that indeed the world has gone "meshugah," (crazy, crazy)! This a posthumously novel published in 1994 and certainly not the best form Isaac Bashevis Singer.
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By Marc Mannheimer on October 13, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book. Isaac Bashevis Singer's world is, as the title suggests, Meshugah -- crazy. Twists and turns delight, as the main character has perfect self-insight -- and, helplessly, does not follow it.
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