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About Chaim Potok
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Books By Chaim Potok
It’s the spring of 1944 and fifteen-year-olds Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders have lived five blocks apart all their lives. But they’ve never met, not until the day an accident during a softball game sparks an unlikely friendship. Soon these two boys—one expected to become a Hasidic rebbe, the other at ease with secular America—are drawn into one another’s worlds despite one father’s strong opposition.
Set against the backdrop of WWII and the creation of the state of Israel, The Chosen is a poignant novel about transformation and tradition, growing up and growing wise, and finding yourself—even if that might mean leaving your community.
Asher Lev is a Ladover Hasid who keeps kosher, prays three times a day and believes in the Ribbono Shel Olom, the Master of the Universe. Asher Lev is an artist who is compulsively driven to render the world he sees and feels, even when it leads him to blasphemy. In this stirring and often visionary novel, Chaim Potok traces Asher’s passage between these two identities, the one consecrated to God, the other subject only to the imagination.
Asher Lev grows up in a cloistered Hasidic community in postwar Brooklyn, a world suffused by ritual and revolving around a charismatic Rebbe. But in time, his gift threatens to estrange him from that world and the parents he adores. As it follows his struggle, My Name Is Asher Lev becomes a luminous portrait of the artist, by turns heartbreaking and exultant, a modern classic.
In a passionate, energetic narrative, The Promise brilliantly dramatizes what it is to master and use knowledge to make one’s own way in the world.
Reuven Malter lives in Brooklyn, he’s in love, and he’s studying to be a rabbi. He also keeps challenging the strict interpretations of his teachers, and if he keeps it up, his dream of becoming a rabbi may die.
One day, worried about a disturbed, unhappy boy named Michael, Reuven takes him sailing and cloud-watching. Reuven also introduces him to an old friend, Danny Saunders—now a psychologist with a growing reputation. Reconnected by their shared concern for Michael, Reuven and Danny each learns what it is to take on life—whether sacred truths or a troubled child—according to his own lights, not just established authority.
In his powerful My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok gave the world an unforgettable character and a timeless story that The New York Times Book Review hailed as “little short of a work of genius.” The Chicago Sun-Times declared it “a story that had to be told.” Now, Chaim Potok’s beloved character returns to learn, to teach, to dream, in The Gift of Asher Lev.
Twenty years have passed. Asher Lev is a world-renowned artist living with his young family in France. Still, he is unsure of his artistic direction. Success has not brought ease to his heart. Then Asher’s beloved uncle dies suddenly, and Asher and his family rush back to Brooklyn—and into a world that Asher thought he had left behind forever.
It is a journey of confrontation and discovery as Asher purges his past in search of new inspiration for his art and begins to understand the true meaning of sacrifice and the painful joy in sharing the most precious gift of all.
Praise for The Gift of Asher Lev
“Rivals anything Chaim Potok has ever produced. It is a book written with passion about passion. You’re not likely to read anything better this year.”—The Detroit News
“Fascinating.”—The Washington Post Book World
“Very moving.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
Praise for Davita's Harp
“Rich . . . enchanting . . . [Chaim] Potok's bravest book.”—The New York Times Book Review
“It is an enormous pleasure to sink into such a rich . . . solidly written novel. The reader knows from the first few pages that he is in the hands of a sure professional who won't let him down.”—People
“Engrossing . . . Filled with a host of richly drawn characters. Potok is a master storyteller.”—Chicago Tribune
“Gripping and intriguing . . . A well-told tale that needed telling.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
--The Boston Globe
The father is a high-ranking Communist officer, a Jew who survived Stalin's purges. The son is a "refusenik," who risked his life and happiness to protest everything his father held dear. Now, Chaim Potok, beloved author of the award-winning novels The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev, unfolds the gripping true story of a father, a son, and a conflict that spans Soviet history. Drawing on taped interviews and his harrowing visits to Russia, Potok traces the public and privates lives of the Slepak family: Their passions and ideologies, their struggles to reconcile their identities as Russians and as Jews, their willingness to fight--and die--for diametrically opposed political beliefs.
"[A] vivid account . . . [Potok] brings a novelist's passion and eye for detail to a gripping story that possesses many of the elements of fiction--except that it's all too true."
--San Francisco Chronicle
From the Trade Paperback edition.
All beginnings are hard—that is the lesson David Lurie learns early and painfully in his life. As a boy in the depression-shadowed Bronx, he must begin to hold his own against neighborhood bullies and the treacherous frailties of his own health. As a young man in a world menaced by a distant, horrifying war, he must begin once more—this time to define a resolute path of personal belief that departs boldly from the tradition of his teachers and his own father, a courageous defender of their people.
Learning how to remember his past as he nourishes the future, David struggles to complete his first long journey into ancient beginnings.
“A major work in every sense.”—Pittsburgh Press
Ilana Davita Dinn is the listener to whom three men relate their lives.
As a young girl, she offers English lessons to a teenage survivor of the camps. In “The Ark Builder,” he shares with her the story of his friendship with a proud old builder of synagogue arks, and what happened when the German army invaded their Polish town.
As a graduate student, she finds herself escorting a guest lecturer from the Soviet Union, and in “The War Doctor,” her sympathy moves him to put his painful past to paper recounting his experiences as a Soviet NKVD agent who was saved by an idealistic doctor during the Russian civil war, only to encounter him again during the terrifying period of the Kremlin doctors’ plot.
And, finally, we meet her in “The Trope Teacher,” in which a distinguished professor of military history, trying to write his memoirs, is distracted by his wife’s illness and by the arrival next door of a new neighbor, the famous writer I. D. (Ilana Davita) Chandal.
Poignant and profound, Chaim Potok’s newest fiction is a major addition to his remarkable—and remarkably loved—body of work.
From the Hardcover edition.
As the Chinese and the army of the North sweep south during the Korean War, an old peasant farmer and his wife flee their village across the bleak, bombed-out landscape. They soon come upon a boy in a ditch who is wounded and unconscious. Stirred by possessiveness and caring the woman refuses to leave the boy behind. The man thinks she is crazy to nurse this boy, to risk their lives for some dying stranger. Angry and bewildered, he waits for the boy to die. And when the boy does not die, the old man begins to believe that the boy possesss a magic upon which all their lives depend. . . .