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Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman: A Novel Hardcover – July 9, 2013

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Reclusive Tsippy Silberberg travels to Tel Aviv to claim an unusual inheritance. After a knock at her hotel-room door, Tsippy opens it to find Bella Kugelman, an elderly woman who, despite her age and frailty, pushes her way into the room and refuses to leave. Bella is desperate to tell Tsippy her life’s story. Bella speaks of her childhood, her early life in Poland, and, in particular, the bustling town of Bedzin. Through Bella’s stories, the streets of Bedzin come alive, and its inhabitants become familiar friends. Through the magic of Mrs. Kugelman’s storytelling, Tsippy’s world takes on new meaning. As Bella’s story comes to a close, Nazi Germany has begun to take its first bites out of Jewish life in Poland. The strength of Pradelski’s novel lies in the fascinating glimpse it provides into a world that was destroyed. Her prose is graceful and generous, and the reader, too, gets caught up in that world. Despite the lack of a structured plot, this is a welcome reminder of the value of stories and the magic that happens when we truly listen. --Carol Gladstein

Review

“Charming and persuasive . . . a fascinating mix of comedy and pathos.” ―Alan Cheuse, NPR's All Things Considered

“One part spry farce, one part moving meditation, and a book that keeps the reader enthralled by that somewhat quaint yet still supremely effective narrative approach, tale-telling.” ―Minneapolis Star Tribune

“From the moment Mrs. Kugelman walks into the room, plops herself down, and begins talking about her village in pre-war Poland, she completely captivates the reader. Her charming characters are so wholly felt and authentically rendered, it is impossible not to be transported back to another time, to the innocence of a thriving, happy community that is ultimately shattered by war. Most of all, it reminds us that one way to recover is to tell each other our stories―to remember, fully, who we were and are.” ―Rebecca Barry, author of Later, at the Bar: A Novel in Stories

“What a delightful narrator! What a scintillating cast of characters! What laughter and heartbreak in this world that is lovingly, achingly, whimsically, magically drawn for us. Readers, you are in for a treat.” ―Chitra Divakaruni, author of Oleander Girl and The Mistress of Spices

“Magical . . . Pradelski successfully walks a tightrope between farce and tragedy, comedy and deep feeling.” ―Die Literarische Welt

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books (July 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805082123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805082128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,713,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When does the Holocaust pass completely into history? I suppose when the last survivor dies and the last person who has heard the last survivor tell his story dies. We're not in danger of that happening too soon, but it will happen.

In German author Minka Pradelski's first novel (translated from German by Philip Boehm), she writes about Tsippy Silberberg, who travels from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv to pick up an inheritance she has received from a dead Israeli relative. She's sort of an odd girl - Tsippy is - who has developed some very bizarre eating habits and is definitely more than a bit neurotic. Her parents are both Holocaust survivors who have moved to Germany from their native Poland. After Tsippy arrives in Tel Aviv, she is told by the front desk at the hotel she has reserved her room at that the room had just been given away to another Tsippy Silberberg. (How many can there be in the world?) She moves to a second hotel, where she encounters an old woman, Mrs Kugelman, who basically traps Tsippy in her room and tells her about her life back in a small Polish village before WW2. According to Mrs K, the village of Bedzin, located near the border of Silesia, was a wonderful place to live, filled with wonderful people. All of that came to an end, of course, when the Germans invaded Poland and most of the residents of Bedzin were either murdered or fled east into Russia. Some had left Bedzin for Palestine before the war; most did not.

Pradelski's book has more than a little "magical realism". It isn't totally "magical realism", because if it was, I wouldn't have finished it. I don't find it easy to suspend belief in the rational; I'm too much a literal reader.
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Format: Hardcover
Lovers of historical fiction presented in an unusual way should appreciate HERE COMES MRS. KUGELMAN, Minka Pradelski's unconventional account of the various inhabitants of the Polish town of Bedzin just prior to the start of WWII. Pradelski explores historical events and everyday happenings through the lens of Mrs. Kugelman who manages to bring life to those persons long dead through the stories she tells.

Mrs. Kugleman is a persistent historian not inclined to be dissuaded by the initially uncooperative and uninterested Tsippy Silberberg, a woman who has come Tel Aviv to collect a meager inheritance left by her distant aunt Helina. Slowly, as Mrs. Kugelman's story unfolds, Tsippy learns of the connection between Bedzin, her aunt Helina, her inheritance and the tenacious Mrs. Kugelman.

This unusual presentation of the Holocaust puts a very personal face on those who survived as well as going a long way in explaining their reticence in sharing their experiences with their children.

This book is translated from another language and the writing does not flow as it would if written by a individual whose native language is English. When I read Mrs. Kugleman's stories, it was akin to having an old Jewish woman sitting in my living room telling me about her life (complete with old country accent).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although it was well written and told a good story, I was annoyed by the unbelievable mechanism used to introduce the characters.
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I didn't quite get it at the beginning. But learned later that
the message has to be continued & that it is easier to tell
strangers than those closest to you.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was good but not stunning
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