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The End of the Jews: A Novel Hardcover – March 18, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The lives of a young Jewish man in the 1930s and a young Czech woman in the 1980s echo across generations in Mansbach's (Angry Black White Boy) continuing investigations into ethnic identity. Tristan Brodsky, the son of New York Jewish immigrant parents, is introduced to pre-WWII jazz and African-American culture by a City College professor who mentors him into a mostly successful, though often controversial, career as a novelist. Tristan's grandson and namesake, known as Tris, is a suburban teen in thrall to hip-hop culture who becomes a novelist himself. (Tris's writerly angst provides some of the funniest scenes in the book.) Then there's Nina Hricek, a talented young Czech photographer who is all but adopted by a touring American jazz group passing through Prague: the black band members affectionately dub her Pigfoot and insist that she must be part Creole. Nina becomes a sort of apprentice to the group's tour photographer. One night, when covering a gig at New York's Blue Note, she locks eyes with a man working at the club—Tris. Mansbach moves effortlessly between U.S. jazz clubs of different eras and Communist Prague, and his dialogue rings true. Believably eccentric characters and an inventive cross-generational plot make this novel of immigration's vicissitudes a delight. (Mar.)
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Review

Praise for The End of the Jews

“Painfully honest, compassionately cognizant of human frailty and complexity, alive to the magic of creativity yet aware of its consequences–very exciting fiction indeed.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Lyrical, brave, and moving, The End of the Jews is further proof of Adam Mansbach’s formidable talent. The inner lives of artists are laid bare, generation after generation grappling with identity, selfishness, and love. At every turn, The End of the Jews is startling in its honesty. This novel is not to be missed."
- Daniel Alarcón, author of Lost City Radio


"A writer bold enough for these times, Adam Mansbach delivers an amazing portrait of love, betrayal, despair and the surviving power of the human spirit. I enjoyed it immensely.”
- Bakari Kitwana, author of The Hip Hop Generation

"Adam Mansbach is a true talent, a Nathan Englander-meets-Gary Shteyngart kind of talent, and his new book is a masterwork of the Jewish arts of humor and sadness."
-Darin Strauss, bestselling author of Chang and Eng


"As Czeslaw Milosz famously said, 'When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished,' but Adam Mansbach takes this notion to new extremes in this smart, moving novel. The Jews of The End of the Jews are sometimes tough, sometimes nerdy, sometimes needy and sometimes Czech, but they are always fascinating, and their quests to reconcile personal ambition and collective identity make for scorching drama."
-Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land

Mansbach moves effortlessly between U.S. jazz clubs of different eras and Communist Prague, and his dialogue rings true. Believably eccentric characters and an inventive cross-generational plot makes this novel of immigrations vicissitudes a delight.

-Publisher’s Weekly

“When I hear the words multigenerational Jewish epic, I reach for my yarmulke. But Mansbach sees something else here, and his novel about the
long, complex history of Jews and blacks in this country makes for much tougher and less gooey reading than we are used to. And it makes the
generation of our grandfathers--and our own generation--seem a lot less saintly and gooey as well. I don't love us any less, and neither does
Mansbach, but I know us better now for what we are. This is a heartfelt, truthful book.”
-Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men

“Few writers tackle a story with as much sheer vigor as Adam Mansbach. Replete with sorrow, humor, and furious energy, The End of the Jews is an unflinching novel of hard truth.”
–Peter Orner, author of Esther Stories

“Mansbach’s prose is a pleasure to read. Witty, gritty, often melodic, it rolls unapologetically through a well-sustained balance of crass and polished, real and imaginary, dramatic and humorous. The characters are round, rich, complex, and intense…As a provocative, masterly written exploration of cultural identity, it rightfully earns itself a place on shelves and coffee tables worldwide.”

-Jerusalem Post

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (March 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385520441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520447
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,042,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Mansbach's new novel, Rage is Back (Viking) has been named an Amazon.com Best Book of the Month for January 2013, and a Barnes & Noble Best Book. The Washington Post says "Mansbach has clearly had a play date with Michael Chabon and Junot Diaz, and his fresh, witty novel is one that hip readers will relish," and adds that "There's no resisting [narrator] Dondi, 'a nerd with swagger,' as he riffs on everything from Madison Avenue to yuppies' racial anxiety ," and the San Francisco Chronicle writes that "Rage Is Back does for graffiti what Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay did for comic books. Dondi mashes up disparate linguistic registers with an effortlessness that brings to mind Junot Díaz's perennial narrator, Junior. The ideal interpreter for this journey, he is equally comfortable holding forth on the history of graffiti style, explaining the "tripartite drug economy" of Fort Greene or (like many a smart high school student), bringing it all back to Homer, Plato and The Great Gatsby. ...but beneath all the weed and spray paint, it's a warmhearted story about a son searching for his father and for himself, a trip through the past and present of an American art form that fits surprisingly well within the confines of the novel."

Mansbach's previous book, Go the F*ck to Sleep is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and one of the most talked-about books of the decade. A viral sensation that shot to #1 on Amazon.com months before the book was even available, it has been published in forty languages, and is forthcoming as a feature film from Fox 2000. Mansbach also wrote"Wake the F*ck Up," a pro-Obama video starring Samuel L. Jackson that has been described by many as the greatest political ad of all time. Released online on September 27, 2012, it received 5 million views in its first week.

Mansbach's 2008 novel, The End of the Jews, won the California Book Award and was long-listed for the IMPAC-Dublin Prize. His previous novel, Angry Black White Boy, or The Miscegenation of Macon Detornay, was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2005; it is taught at more than eighty universities and has been adapted into a prize-winning stage play. He is also the author of the novel Shackling Water, the poetry collection genius b-boy cynics getting weeded in the garden of delights, the graphic novel Nature of the Beast (co-written with Douglas Mcgowan).

An inaugural recipient of the Ford Foundation's Future Aesthetics Artist Grant, Mansbach was also a 2012 Sundance Institute Screenwriting Lab fellow and the recipient of the Indian Paintbrush/Sundance Institute Feature Filmwriting Grant. The 2009-2011 New Voices Professor of Fiction at Rutgers University, he founded, edited and published the pioneering 1990s hip hop journal Elementary and spent several years traveling as a drum technician with the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine. His fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Esquire, The Believer, and on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

Mansbach's His debut thriller, The Dead Run will be published in September 2013, by HarperCollins. A frequent lecturer on college campuses across the country, Mansbach lives in Berkeley, California, where he co-hosts the KPFA/Pacifica radio show "Father Figures."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Richard P. Carpenter on March 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not Jewish, yet I enjoyed Adam Mansbach's moving multi-genererational novel immensely, and so, I suspect, will you. Certainly the novel is laced with references to Jewish customs, traditions, and even dishes (noodle kugel, anyone?), and it deals partly with the complex relationships between Jews and blacks. But ultimately the book is less about being Jewish than about being human. It is about closeness and aloofness. It is about what marriage does and doesn't accomplish. It is about friends and family and how difficult it sometimes is to extricate yourself from situations caused by those nearest to you. There is sadness and tension (and a modicum of sex), but there is also humor, and a chapter in which grandfather and grandson go on a graffiti expedition is simply a howl. In the end, you will find that it doesn't matter whether the characters are Jewish or Swedish or Brazilian or Martian: They and their hopes, dreams, and disappointments will linger long in your memory.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Eric Selby on May 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The writing is brilliant. I am not Jewish, but my "domestic partner" is. The opening of this book makes a writer like me ooze with jealousy. We meet Tristan, living in the Bronx, with all the other Jewish families in the apartment building. And we just know that he will be breaking out of "tradition"! You too might be thinking "Fiddler on the Roof." Then suddenly the reader is transplanted to Prague when it was under Soviet rule to a truly remarkable story--and it seems to be a separate story--of another sort-of Jewish family. But there are connections. Then out of nowhere, it seems, comes Tris in chapter three, a teenager, who is driving his mother mad, his mother being the daughter of the Tristan (hence Tris the grandson) from the first chapter. Oh, my. Poor Linda! The end of the Jews all right. This is just the most amazing book, and the pieces fall into place. It deserves more than five stars.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Boomer Woman on July 4, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book because I was hearing the author speak. While a little intriguing, this book is mostly full of very stereotypical characters who as one other reviewer noted, fairly shallowly drawn. The book is also a bit contrived and self-important. The author apparently spent time when he was quite young with hip-hop bands and has incorporated this (and some other family history) into different aspects the characters, but it doesn't ring true or matter. I plowed through it until the end, but did not find it satisfying or worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Stricker on August 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm a fan of multigenerational epics. Seeing the same characters through the eyes of different generations intrigues me. But The End of the Jews doesn't quite pull this off.

At the plot's center is the bond between grandfather and grandson. It's warm and inviting in the way good buddy stories are. Their bond is based on being perceived as misfits and underachievers relative to their own generations.

The literary cliches employed by the novel are really pretty stale for how much time they get. The establishment type who champions his barely willing subordinate's career? The kid from the sticks whose life is changed by his first drink and jazz club? The journeymen musicians who travel the world but can barely scrape by?

Also, there's a middle generation barely touched upon that feels like a hole in the novel.

The several twists towards the end of the book fall a bit flat. To avoid spoiling anything, I suppose they make sense in the context of a difficult, loveless marriage. But they seemed more like grasps for salaciousness, then a conceivable step for the characters to take.

Returning to the positive side, the author clearly has a love for the lost Jewish immigrant culture of New York. Immigrant families making room in their already hard lives for the son to study instead of work. The amazement of a kid cloistered in the Bronx whose trips to Manhattan are full of wonder. It is lovingly recreated.

And the scene where the Beasty Boys aspirant DJs a Bar Mitzvah of adoring kids who see him as the coolest thing ever? Great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Reinert on January 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I thought the title was especially intriguing, but after I have read the book, not sure that it is especially appropriate. The book is more about family relationships and the price one pays for one's art regardless of ethic or religious identity. I loved the first chapter-- the historical one. Thought the second chapter was interesting (Czech mother and daughter) but could see no relationship to the first, and almost quit with the third chapter (graffiti artists). However, I stuck with it and I'm glad I did.

Some of the events in the book I find a bit of a stretch but overall it fits together pretty well considering the diverse individuals coming together. I'm not an "artist" and I'm not Jewish, but could certainly relate to some of the marital struggles. Good to know that those are universal. Life, and certainly marriage, isn't easy so you might as well savor the good times when they appear and just work to weather the bad when those are around.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alon Shalev - Elfwriter on August 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is not a stereotypical immigrant novel that has been done and over-done. Mansbach provides us with some unforgettable characters, who stay with us long after the final page is read.

Dealing with the complexities between the black and Jewish communities is never going to be easy and the author provides an excellent and fascinating insight.

Above all, I have learned to look at spray-painted graffiti in a whole new way - and wonder if there is a can-carrying grandfather still out there.
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