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11 Reviews
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be Jewish ....
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...
Published on March 30, 2008 by Richard P. Carpenter

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Thankfully Not the End of the Jews
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...
Published on July 4, 2010 by Boomer Woman


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be Jewish ...., March 30, 2008
By 
Richard P. Carpenter (Danvers, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The End of the Jews: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing, May 16, 2009
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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
2.0 out of 5 stars Thankfully Not the End of the Jews, July 4, 2010
By 
Boomer Woman (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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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
3.0 out of 5 stars Jewish, yet hackneyed..., August 12, 2008
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This review is from: The End of the Jews: A Novel (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at family relationships, January 17, 2009
This review is from: The End of the Jews: A Novel (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant - not a typical multi-generational American novel., August 18, 2009
By 
Alon Shalev - Elfwriter (Berkeley, California United States) - See all my reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the End of the Jews, March 3, 2013
By 
Richard L. Goldfarb (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
At the beginning of the third chapter, it is revealed that Linda, daughter of Tristan and mother of Tris, has named her son after her father in ignorance of the Jewish law that you do not name children after living relatives (although technically that only applies to Hebrew names). That is as close as the book gets to a lapsing of Judaism. Indeed, toward the end there is a critical scene that occurs at a family bris.

A lot of what Mansbach has done here is interesting and inventive. He handles moments in excruciating detail while leaving out the connections between his chapters in large part. We don't see Tristan and Amalia's meetings after the first that lead to marriage. We don't see Nina's exit from Czechoslovakia under false papers and entry to the United States. We don't see how Tris learns graffiti and we don't see how his relationship with Nina goes from immediate infatuation to something that appears stronger. All of these we are supposed to fill in by induction.

As others have noted, the interstices between the stories are difficult and may seem contrived. But the theme is not Judaism, or even the connections between Jewish and African-American artistry, even though that is covered in great detail. The theme is artistry. How Tristan learns to be selfish about his artistry and Amalia finally snaps to the same conclusion. How Mariko sacrificed her whole life to Albert and may have been willing to do the same for Amalia. How Tris learned he had to risk his grandparents' love for his art, after his grandfather had stolen Tris's art for a comeback novel. How Nina almost enslaved herself to her art and then escaped. You learn this by indirection; Mansbach has a way of letting you understand things without smacking you with them.

There are things that are not explained that should have been. Linda is really not fleshed out as fully as she deserved. She shows up doing things without us really getting to know why she is motivated to do them, particularly for her father, and her husband is just a piece of furniture. Nina's father's failure and descent into madness led to her long term affair with Marcus, but she doesn't seem to make any connection between the one and the other even as she continues it after she moves in with Tris. Nina's choices are so important at the end, yet we really don't get a sense of where her career stands or why she is so afraid if she might be deported given that she would be returning to a very different Prague than she left. Mariko starts a career as a jazz pianist very late in life, but just gives it up to move in with Amalia, without a word.

I enjoyed the book, I understand many of Mansbach's choices, but I was still left with a sense of incompleteness when I finished.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and Beautiful, August 17, 2008
This review is from: The End of the Jews: A Novel (Hardcover)
The End of the Jews blew me away. It's stunning in its emotional honesty, in a way that reminded me of James Baldwin's masterpiece Another Country. It's a book that tackles big issues, like race and identity, but through a small lens: the life of one family over several generations. Mansbach gives us full characters whose struggles are vivid, whose victories and defeats feel real. The language is beautiful, too.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Forget the Title it's Meaningless as is most of the Book, April 15, 2012
By 
Grey Wolffe "Zeb Kantrowitz" (North Waltham, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This is a book about novelists, jazz musicians, photographers and poets. But in truth it's really about the lies and sacrifices that people make. Unfortunately, one of the sacrifices is reading this book. The book is in two parts. It starts out as a fast read for the first 155 pages and slows down a bit for the next seventy five, but the second part of the book which begins on 230 and continues to 308 feels like dragging a sled across the driveway of my house.

This is supposed to be a story of three generations of one family but in reality it's only about a grandfather and a grandson. The daughter and the photographer who represent the middle generation are cardboard characters that don't have much effect on the story. Why the family is Jewish, is in itself irrelevant.

Even worse than the story is that the title is nothing if not exploitive. They could just as easily been Irish or Italian. The book could just as easily been "The end of the Roman Catholics" as the "End of the Jews". Tristan and his wife Amalia could just as easily have been part of the Noel Coward, F Scott Fitzgerald crowd of the thirties as they were of the thirties CCNY crowd.
Lastly, there is no END here. Tristan and Amalia go on the same way, Tris and Nina go off on a fling that you sense won't change anything. It's not an end as so much as a small pause, and then without much thinking, goes on its' way.

Zeb Kantrowitz
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good book!, August 4, 2008
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This review is from: The End of the Jews: A Novel (Hardcover)
Very interesting concept in this book. Using it for a book club.
shipped timely and in great condition.
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The End of the Jews: A Novel
The End of the Jews: A Novel by Adam Mansbach (Hardcover - March 18, 2008)
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