From Publishers Weekly
Only four days pass between the opening scene of boys waterboarding one another to the moment when 10-year-old Gurion Maccabee and his army attempt to take down their unfair school system, but in the dense, frenzied pages of Levin's outsized debut, those few days feel like forever. Gurion, who narrates and refers to the text as "a work of scripture," sees himself as the hero of a yet-to-be-recognized Jewish holiday that celebrates the birth of "perfect justice," and recruits an army of misfits and Torah scholars. But nothing happens quickly, and Levin is as content to tend to the screwy plot as he is to allow Gurion to go on extended digressions about Philip Roth and any number of other topics. Between the hubris it takes to expect readers to digest more than 1,000 pages about a tween who says "the likelihood that I was seemed to me to be increasing by the second" and the shoving in of e-mails, diagrams, and transcripts of television footage, the idea that this could be a great novel is overshadowed by the fact that this is a great big novel, shaggy and undisciplined, but with moments of brilliance.
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Levin’s enormous first novel is narrated by a hyper, megalomaniac prodigy, a 10-year-old boy named Gurion ben-Judah Maccabee who has skipped grades and been expelled for violent behavior from three Chicago schools. He is now in the CAGE program for problem students at Aptakisic Junior High, and even more determined to incite rebellion, if not an all-out holy war. Gurion is tough, wily, ferociously fluent in Jewish theology, an avid fan of Philip Roth and Jewish humor, verbally pyrotechnic, and bizarrely charismatic. His father is a civil rights lawyer who gets trampled by enraged Jews for defending a neo-Nazi; his mother is a former Israeli soldier, a mental health professional, and black. Spurred to assemble his children’s army by anti-Semitic hate crimes and the ongoing bloodshed in the Middle East, Gurion does not deny that he could be a potential messiah. Levin’s mammoth, riotous, Talmudic, impossibly excessive yet brilliant, mesmerizing, warmhearted, and hilarious work of chutzpah takes place over four feverish days but encompasses the whole of Israel’s battle for existence and the Jewish quest for home and peace. --Donna Seaman