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My Name Is Asher Lev Paperback – March 11, 2003
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“A novel of finely articulated tragic power. . . . Little short of a work of genius.” --The New York Times Book Review
“Memorable. . . . Profound in its vision of humanity, of religion, and of art.”--The Wall Street Journal
“Such a feeling of freshness, of something brand-new. . . . Attention-holding and ultimately moving.” --The New York Times
“Engrossing and illuminating.” --Miami Herald
From the Publisher
My Name is Asher Lev-Chaim Potok became a favorite author of mine after reading My Name is Asher Lev. I've since had the pleasure of hearing Chaim Potok speak on two occasions. To hear him answer questions regarding Asher Lev and his paintings is evidence of the true craftsmanship of this author. A most amazing part of the story is the integration of Christian ideals in the Jewish character of Asher Lev and his artwork. Its a truly remarkable story.
-Jocelyn Schmidt, Ballantine National Sales Coordinator --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book educates the reader on the Jewish traditions as well as the artist's tools and journey and the tortured decisions he feels compelled to make for the sake of his muse.
Deep, complex and intense characters and wonderfully descriptive writing with a sometimes slow pace provides a rich and rewarding experience. I'll definitely read the sequel and other books by Chaim Potok.
The main character grows as a character, but doesn't really mature as an adult. He comes across as autistic to be honest. The other major characters are all well developed and believable, although a few of the minor characters border on being stereotypes. Definitely a good book for those who enjoy a good emotional roller coaster.
Thank you Chaim Potok, of blessed memory, for this literary gem.
Although religious and artistic literary fiction themes do not normally interest me, My Name is Asher Lev was ultimately selected because of a commendation from Ingermanson and Economy (2010) for its exemplary conveyance of emotional depth. Readers that possess a fundamental understanding of Jewish traditions most likely will have a better appreciation at the novel's outset as to the ramifications of Asher Lev's artistic bent; however, lack of such knowledge is not crucial to the reader's enjoyment of the novel. Unfamiliar Jewish words and phrases eventually garner meaning as religious implications frequently appear and reappear with variations in intensity. This is a story built around family conflict and the pressures to meet familial expectations, which is a familiar theme that most readers can readily identify with regardless of the source of conflict.
Early on in the novel, Asher is painted as a child who lacks self-control and is powerless to avoid engaging in artistic activities - despite the deep embarrassment that this particularly causes his esteemed father. The parents quietly search for an explanation or a reason that Asher has an uncontrollable compunction to draw. The reader may speculate that perhaps Asher has an illness, such as Asperger's Syndrome, but the possibility of such a condition is left unnamed and the reader a little uncertain as to what Asher's plight may truly be. If the reader initially misattributes familial tension to raising a son with cognitive deficits rather than conflicting religious beliefs, the depth and significance of the novel's underlying emotional turbidity can be diminished.
Asher's dogged persistence to go against his parents' wishes is sometimes difficult for the reader to accept. It simply doesn't seem plausible that this seemingly normal, albeit awkward and introspective, youngster could also be so strong and sure of his artistic convictions despite the serious ramifications for Asher and his family. This is an acceptable struggle for the reader given this is a story about Asher Lev's (mostly) stoic ascent as an artist with the consequence of enduring emotional strife and pain arising from his artistic endeavours. Ultimately, the reader is left to reconcile Asher's character as being a peculiar child with the rare capacity to create exceptional art forms.
After travelling vicariously through Asher Lev's artistic desires, accompanying him during times of conflict, and feeling his inner torment, this reader is not ready to say farewell to Asher Lev and thus will be turning to the follow-up story, The Gift of Asher Lev, to continue the reading about Asher's journey into adult life.
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