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The Frumkiss Family Business Paperback – International Edition, August 2, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

“Wex is as irreverent and humorous, [and] he has his own style. . . . Breathtaking. It’s so subtle you don't see what’s coming until . . . all of a sudden something beautiful appears.”
— Winnipeg Free Press
 
“[Wex has] certainly nailed the Borscht Belt humour. . . . A lively and entertaining fictional debut.”
Edmonton Journal
 
“A hilarious portrait of Jewish life in Toronto . . . and a new hero for Yiddish literature, one who, even while portraying that most tragic of birds, the dodo, represents not the extinction of Yiddish culture, but its tenacity.”
The Globe and Mail
 
“[Wex] sets out to do for Toronto’s Jews what Mordecai Richler’s fictions did for Montreal’s and Philip Roth’s for Newark’s: paint their portraits so acutely, so knowingly, so as to inspire their apoplectic rage.”
— Tablet

“A good portion of the reading world, including the 2010 Booker Prize jury, finds Harold Jacobson’s The Finkler Question . . . hilarious — I found it tedious. . . . However funny or unfunny Jacobson’s book may be (maybe it just didn’t hit my funny bone), this Canadian-authored entry into the world of Yiddish humour had me chuckling, laughing and sometimes roaring from start to finish. . . . If you are looking for some escapist reading that is totally irreverant and very, very funny, you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of Wex’s book.”
KevinfromCanada.wordpress.com


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

MICHAEL WEX was born in Lethbridge, Alberta. The family moved first to Calgary, and then to Toronto, where they lived in Toronto's Bathurst Manor before migrating a few blocks north to Bathurst Village. Wex is the author of two works of fiction, Shlepping the Exile and The Adventures of Micah Mushmelon, Boy Talmudist, and three works of non-fiction: Born to Kvetch; Just Say Nu; and How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck). He is also well known as a speaker on matters relating to Yiddish language and culture and more general aspects of Judaism. He lives in Toronto with his wife and daughter.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307397777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307397775
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,615,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author of Born to Kvetch, columnist, bon vivant and raconteur, Michael Wex has been called "a Yiddish national treasure;" Born to Kvetch, the bestselling book ever written about Yiddish, was hailed by The New York Times as "wise, witty and altogether wonderful."

A native of Lethbridge, Alberta, Wex has worked in virtually every area of contemporary Yiddish. Some of his songs have been recorded by such klezmer bands as Sukke, The Flying Bulgars, and 2007 Grammy winners, The Klezmatics.

Wex's teaching and lecture activities-a unique combination of learning, stand-up comedy and probing investigation into the nature of Yiddish and Yiddishkayt-have taken him from Toronto to Budapest, and to many points in between. His approach is so unique and appealing that his annual series of classes at Klezkamp (a yearly Yiddish cultural event in upstate New York) has been renamed Wexology-and not at Wex's instigation. The only complaint ever heard is that people are enjoying themselves so much that they forget to take notes.

You can find Michael Wex at www.michaelwex.com

Customer Reviews

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See all 7 customer reviews
I forgive Michael Wex my insomnia, while thanking him for a great read.
Mordche der Kvetcher
This narrative exceeded my expectations for wickedly original characters, crazy plot twists and unexpected situations.
Nosson
That the book is currently only available in the United States by mail order is a shame.
suze

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eifoo on August 26, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
I didn't think that Michael Wex could top "Born to Kvetch" and "How to be a Mentsch (Not a Schmuck) but here's the proof. Funny, nostalgic, a walk down Memory Lane, all describe The Frumkiss Family Business. I found myself smiling at the references to 1960s/70s Toronto and the CBC television shows. You'll LOVE this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The word "khutspe" would be wasted on Elyokim Faktor; the complexity of this character goes far beyond khutspe. He's a man of Till Eulenspiegel's standards (a German literary figure from the early 16th century), only Jewish, or Michael Wex's very own Kalman Holzhacker (from Wex's play "God in Paris.") Michael Wex's Elyokim Faktor, born in the early 20th century, is an actor from Poland who becomes Yankee Gallstone, a beloved dodo bird puppet in Canadian television after the war. I wouldn't give away the pranks Faktor's life (and this book) are filled with, and Faktor's way to get there, but it's essential for the book that Faktor's own plea is to disturb and bother all and everybody even on expenses of his own fame and, one might think, life; because Faktor dies and proves his reputation to his family -- he seems to pull the strings even after his own death. Michael Wex wrote a Jewish family saga that spans four generations in East Europe and Canada, and provides us with a whole paradigm of life. All of the characters in the book are conceived in a deeply human way; one gets reminded of the same people no matter where in the world: Faktor's son-in-law who never gets over the death of his beloved wife; Allan Milner, Faktor's biographer, a character that can be found in any cultural scene; Randall, who wants to be as good an actor as his grandfather; Vanessa the beautiful who turns frum as a result of her failing as a mother; and many more. The novel is very funny and entertaining, and it goes far deeper than that; it not just explores the matter of human identity, it questions it to a certain degree and asks about how to fill the gap. Wex came up with a unique plot that would allow him to create this range of all-too human interacting characters; together this forms, in my opinion, his best novel to-date -- and I'm a lover of "Shlepping the Exile" and "Micah Mushmelon" since the publication of these books. Frankly speaking, I'm overwhelmed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mordche der Kvetcher on September 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
1:00 AM. My wife is asleep. 2:00 AM. Our cat is asleep. But I can't sleep. It's that Frumkiss book. I can't put it down. I forgive Michael Wex my insomnia, while thanking him for a great read. In this masterpiece, Wex delivers a kugel of characters who, by the end of the novel, you'll swear you've met. At the same time, he delivers a World Wrestling Foundation worthy body blow to the "Who is a Jew?" debate.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Xanajew on August 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Long awaited, Michael Wex's latest fiction offering is finally in hand. Wex, the author of the internationally acclaimed "Born to Kvetch" and "Just Say Nu" (comic cogitations on Yiddish in its historical development) has not given himself over to fiction since his pre-Kvetch novels "Micha Mashmelon" and "Shlepping the Exile." It was well worth the wait.

In "Frumkiss Family Business" Wex has crafted a multi-generational panorama of Jewish life which, though taking place in Canada, could just as well have taken place anywhere. His characters, full of bromides and bon mots, sparkle on each page, each one brimming with the kind of culturally savvy depiction which can only come from the pen of one of this generation's great observers of Jewish life and of transient American popular culture. Funny, poignant and just plain wacky, beneath it all is the literate, knowledgeable and utterly brilliant Wex maneuvering his characters through a bevy of backstories so the reader has the opportunity to witness Yiddish cultural life in diverse telling settings. And let's don't forget Wex's unerring ear for language. Be prepared for luscious and deeply textured melding of Wex's brilliant command of Yiddish, Hebrew and English, with the kind of crisp and crackly dialog not heard since the birth of the Hollywood screwball comedy.
Sad to say, no US publisher has yet stepped up to print the book in America, but thanks to the magic of The Internets, you can order it right here, right now. And so should.
If, as some have said, Yiddish culture is as dead as the dodo which forms a critical plot element in "Frumkiss Family Business" then they have yet to encounter the work of Michael Wex nor to understand what his work means for this and future generations.
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