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The Ministry of Special Cases (Vintage International) Paperback – April 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Morey's dulcet theatrical tones offset the messy lives of the characters in Englander's first novel about Jewish residents of 1970s Buenos Aires who live in fear of Argentina's vicious military dictatorship. Against the backdrop of the dirty war conducted against leftists and activists, Kaddish Poznan scratches together a living vandalizing the gravestones of Jewish criminals who are embarrassments to their families, even in eternal slumber. Morey struggles manfully with the book's religious terminology and outbursts of Spanish, but his reading is too mannered to render the vibrancy of Englander's prose. His pauses are often too long, and his line readings sometimes lean awkwardly, and puzzlingly, on certain words. Nonetheless, Morey's professional assurance means that, certain flaws notwithstanding, his reading flows along without overly noticeable interruption, accurately conveying the menace lurking behind every word, every sentence of Englander's death-haunted tale.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Eight years ago Nathan Englander published his acclaimed short story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. He brings the same historical profundity to his first novel. While focusing on the pessimistic Kaddish, whose name honors the dead, and his optimistic wife, Englander tells a much larger story about terrorist regimes and asks universal questions about remembering the dead, dealing with evil, and addressing assimilation, love, ritual, and generational gaps. Most reviewers praised the novel's tense, Kafkaesque qualities; others criticized the obvious symbolism (the Poznans' bartered rhinoplasties, for example) and wished for more emotional empathy. Overall, however, Englander once again displays his ample talents in this much anticipated novel.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
vocabulary is too poor to do him justice
He writes about tragic, bleak, sad events, with black humour,
but always with feelings and sentiments.
He is just extraordinary and I do recommend him to one
and all, a must
He is sure receive the Nobel prize
What made this book fantastic:
- Englander writes beautifully; he captures fear, hope, anger and heartbreak in each and every character
- This is not a political book; the politics at the forefront of the Dirty War serve to bring years of family, cultural and identity issues to the surface, forcing the Poznan's to deal with the strengths and weaknesses of the bonds that hold their family together
- On the other hand, when politics is mentioned it is done in such a way as to make you curious to learn more (I found myself doing extra research to gain a better understanding of what was happening in Buenos Aires during this time)
- The plot and characters are realistic; it's not a fairy tale
If you're being nit-picky you may have issues with:
- The fact that everything isn't neatly tied up with a pretty red bow at the end; Englander is being brutally honest about this time period
- You may be slightly confused about the role of the Jewish community in Argentina (again, doing a quick internet search will help)
- Feeling frustrated for information or progress in regards to the plot. This frustration is what you're supposed to be feeling, though. Take your frustration, multiply it by a thousand and you'll only begin understanding what Kaddish and Lillian are feeling about not easily finding their missing son.
This is a really wonderful novel that will make you appreciate so many things about your life and your family.
Most recent customer reviews
the first half is slow moving but it picks up...Read more