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My Name Is Asher Lev Paperback – March 11, 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 287 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (March 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400031044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400031047
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am not an artist. Nor am I a gifted person in any respect. But, for a few moments, I had a notion of what it could be like to be blessed and cursed with a talent so rare, and so special. This feeling occured when I read and delved into the world of Asher Lev.
"My Name is Asher Lev" is Chaim Potok's best novel. It is complete, subtle and passionate; devastating to its core. It tells the poignant and difficult story of Asher Lev, a New York-born religious Jew who finds the gift of painting within him early on, yet is isolated from his community due to the philosophy that Judaism, modern art, and Christianity are distinctly seperate worlds.
In my favorite scene from the book, detailing the power of Potok's imagination, Asher Lev is a young boy, who looks at his mother one day and creates a rendition of her on paper. Because she is depressed at the time, and smoking, Potok has Lev use the leftover ash from her finished cigarettes as the drawing object; his mother is created in shades of gray. A story this original, this creative, and this imaginary deserves to be read.
Potok, a rabbi, has done an excellent job in detailing a Jewish community in the United States, as well as conveying the relationship it holds with the Christian majority. Besides being a good read on art, the novel offers a fascinating glimpse into the tensions that separate two religious worlds.
"My Name Is Asher Lev" is a wonderful read and I recommended it to all.
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Format: Paperback
Having read "The Chosen" and "The Promise," I had to try "My Name is Asher Lev." Those first two were wonderful stories, but "Asher Lev" is such a powerful and (in the good sense) disturbing novel that it left me trembling.

I am not a Hasidic Jew -- in fact, I am a Roman Catholic priest. But Potok welcomes even the stranger into the Hasidic world so that a reader feels at home. Yet even more foreign to me is the world of the artist, for the Lord has given me absolutely no talent or vision in that area. Yet here, too, one learns to see with the artist's eye, or at least to understand.

Potok's writing becomes more and more terse as the tensions inside Asher Lev increase. He shifts themes within a single paragraph in a way that would earn a failing grade from any seventh grade English teacher, and yet he does so to very powerful effect, allowing the reader to be experience the difficulties that cause the protagonist such fear.

Asher Lev discovered that a gift of genius could be a true burden. Chaim Potok showed his own genius in allowing us a glimpse into this realm of creation.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A story about a young man's struggle between the secular world of an artist, and life as a Ladover Hasidic Jew, Chaim Potok's masterpiece MY NAME IS ASHER LEV is truly a classic.
Asher Lev is born to parents who are devoted to the life of the Ladover Hasidic Jew. As his mother supports and stands by the work Asher's father does, Aryeh Lev devotes his life to the causes closest to his people. Most of his life is dedicated to preserving the culture of this Jewish sect, and also to helping those who are being persecuted in other countries. He travels often, sometimes to countries as far away as The Soviet Union to help out his fellow Jew. He's rarely home, and young Asher is often angry and upset, wishing his father had more time for him.
From a very young age, Asher has a deep sense of art, and learns to express his innermost feelings through his creativity. As with any artistic genius, creating art is in Asher's blood and it soon gets in the way of his schooling and his religion and culture. His parents are not happy with the way things are going with Asher, but they tolerate his strange obsession, thinking this is just a passing phase. He will grow out of it, they think. His mother in particular does not dissuade Asher from drawing, if only to keep him happy, hoping that he would reward her with better grades in school. And with the help of local storeowner Yudel Krinsky, Asher obtains the necessary pencils and other art equipment to continue his fascination with drawing.
However, his obsession with art does not die, as his parents had hoped. The older he becomes, the more his passion with art drives a wedge between himself and his parents.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I would perhaps not have been inspired to write a review of this brilliant book had I not read Rachel Grey's review... In general, other reviewers have said all the things I would want to say about "My Name is Asher Lev;" its exquisite writing, its heartbreaking and beautiful portrayal of a developing artist trying to reconcile his need to create with the demands of his family and his religious community - these are well covered. But Miss Grey's review moved me to respond.
Dear girl - how closely did you read this book? It does not take place in the present time; it was published in 1972, and is set somewhat earlier. Asher's family in no way represents mainstream Judaism, which I would think any careful reader - even one ignorant of Jewish culture and practice - would have understood. The Levs are Hasids, members of a small, conservative, fundamentalist segment of the Jewish world. In that respect, your identification with Asher's experience as similar to that of growing up in a fundamentalist Christian household is entirely appropriate.
Potok is not by any means suggesting that all Jews would be dismayed to find Picasso growing up in the back bedroom. He is portraying a very specific world, and through that world exploring the conflicts that an artist - one who is powerfully, passionately driven to realize his unique vision - may encounter with his family, his community, and even his own spiritual nature as a result of that need to create.
Please do read this book again, and please don't condemn Judaism or Jews - or even Hasids - for the behavior of Asher's family that you find distasteful.
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