From Publishers Weekly
Morey's dulcet theatrical tones offset the messy lives of the characters in Englander's first novel about Jewish residents of 1970s Buenos Aires who live in fear of Argentina's vicious military dictatorship. Against the backdrop of the dirty war conducted against leftists and activists, Kaddish Poznan scratches together a living vandalizing the gravestones of Jewish criminals who are embarrassments to their families, even in eternal slumber. Morey struggles manfully with the book's religious terminology and outbursts of Spanish, but his reading is too mannered to render the vibrancy of Englander's prose. His pauses are often too long, and his line readings sometimes lean awkwardly, and puzzlingly, on certain words. Nonetheless, Morey's professional assurance means that, certain flaws notwithstanding, his reading flows along without overly noticeable interruption, accurately conveying the menace lurking behind every word, every sentence of Englander's death-haunted tale.
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Eight years ago Nathan Englander published his acclaimed short story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges
. He brings the same historical profundity to his first novel. While focusing on the pessimistic Kaddish, whose name honors the dead, and his optimistic wife, Englander tells a much larger story about terrorist regimes and asks universal questions about remembering the dead, dealing with evil, and addressing assimilation, love, ritual, and generational gaps. Most reviewers praised the novel's tense, Kafkaesque qualities; others criticized the obvious symbolism (the Poznans' bartered rhinoplasties, for example) and wished for more emotional empathy. Overall, however, Englander once again displays his ample talents in this much anticipated novel.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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