Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Street Sweeper Hardcover – January 5, 2012
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Praise for Elliot Perlman’s The Street Sweeper
“[I]t seems somehow fitting that the author of The Street Sweeper, a wonderfully rich, engaging and multilayered new novel about blacks and Jews in Chicago and New York, would hail from Australia. I’ve been a fan of Elliot Perlman’s work since his 1998 novel Three Dollars. That book and his massive Seven Types of Ambiguity (2004) revealed him to be an author of rare erudition and compassion. But The Street Sweeper is his boldest work yet…” – The Washington Post
“The Street Sweeper is an impressive literary achievement, complex in its organization, meticulous in its plotting and deeply satisfying in its emotional payoffs.” – The Wall Street Journal
“In the best kind of books, there is always that moment when the words on the page swallow the world outside — subway stations fly by, errands go un-run, rational bedtimes are abandoned — and the only goal is to gobble up the next paragraph, and the next, and the next… A towering achievement: a strikingly modern literary novel that brings the ugliest moments of 20th-century history to life, and finds real beauty there.” – Entertainment Weekly
“As characters interact and fates intertwine, Perlman tells an engaging multi-generational saga witnessing personal histories that heroically endure and survive brutal and horrific racism to become what we know as the history of the Holocaust and the American Civil Rights movement. At his best, Perlman accomplishes this literary feat by evoking remarkable depth and meaning in otherwise commonplace events and characters…. [W]hat is most memorable about this richly woven tale is the lessons about the importance of memory and remembering, and the novel’s underlying compassion and sense of history.” – USA Today
“An epic tale that spans decades and bridges generations while chronicling the predominant chapters of racial persecution perpetrated in the darkest hours of the 20th century… Perlman is a consummate storyteller… This stunning novel works, and matters, because of the expert way Perlman has recorded both the agonized howl of the past and the plaintive echoes of the present.” – San Francisco Chronicle
“The Street Sweeper connects up its large cast of characters, telling a grim but buoyant story, full of humanity and brave acts. Reading it provides that uncommon thrill in fiction: a philosophical page-turner.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The Street Sweeper is a big novel in every sense… It’s filled with color and characters whose unlikely connection tells the stories of contemporary New York, 1930s Warsaw and 1950s Chicago.” – The Forward
“Perlman offers an affecting meditation on memory itself, on storytelling as an act of healing.” – The Guardian (UK)
“An expertly told novel of life in immigrant America--and of the terrible events left behind in the old country.” – Kirkus Reviews (STARRED)
“Brilliantly makes personal both the Holocaust and the civil rights movement.... A moving and literate page-turner.” – Publishers Weekly (STARRED)
“Perlman’s compulsively readable wrestle-with-evil saga is intimate and monumental, wrenching and cathartic.” – Booklist (STARRED)
About the Author
Elliot Perlman is the author of The Reasons I Won't Be Coming and Seven Types of Ambiguity. He also cowrote the award-winning screenplay for a film version of Three Dollars, his first novel. He lives in Australia.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Lamont Williams is a poor black man who is relatively unsophisticated. He has just got out of jail after serving six years for a crime he did not commit. He has one main objective - to locate the daughter he lost touch with while he was incarcerated. Lamont lives with his grandmother in Coop City in the Bronx. He was very close to his cousin Michelle while growing up but she grew apart from him while he was in jail. Lamont manages to secure a job in building services at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital through a back-to-work program for ex-cons. While at Sloan Kettering he is anxiously awaiting his six month probation to be over so he can be a regular employee with benefits.
During his time at Sloan Kettering, Lamont befriends an elderly holocaust survivor named Henryk Mandelbrot. After hours, Lamont visits Mr. Mandelbrot and is told his story of life in Auschwitz. Lamont learns the difference between concentration camps and death camps, of the inside uprisings at Auschwitz and Mr. Mandelbrot's intimate and detailed history as a Jew during World War II. Mr. Mandelbrot tells Lamont that he must remember everything that he is told by him. Lamont takes this at face value and studies the particulars of the story every night.
Meanwhile, at Columbia University, Adam Zignelik is an untenured professor of history who has not had a new idea in years. He knows he will not get tenure. His girlfriend of eight years, Diana, wants a child and Adam is unwilling to bring a child into the world. He can barely see his way through a class without fear of falling apart during a lecture. He is good friends with the chair of the history department but even that can't save him from his fate of losing his job shortly.
A friend of Adam's father (and the father of the chair of the history department) gives Adam an idea for research - to see if black troops were involved in the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. This idea blooms into full-scale research for Adam, leading him to Chicago, Australia, and Sloan Kettering. For the first time in years Adam has hope but he has lost Diana. What he has instead is her comb that she left behind in their apartment when he told her to leave. He talks to her as if she was still there and holds on to her comb as an artifact of their love.
Since this is a tale by Perlman, if the reader is at all familiar with `7 Types of Ambiguity', we know that there will be surprising connections found and formed. That is Mr. Perlman's style. He does this brilliantly in this book. However, it is hard to say that this book is a novel. It is as much a history book about the holocaust as it is anything else. Mr. Perlman tells the story well but it is very repetitive. There are also many, many facts to digest. Perhaps that is why he feels the need to tell and retell them. He wants the reader to remember and the novel deals a lot about memory and its place in human behavior and intent. He says of memory that "it can capture you, corner you or liberate you".
With this book, Mr. Perlman wants memory to liberate the reader. By telling the story it may even have liberated him. It is the telling, the active intent of utilizing memory, that is the gist of this 639 page novel that contains 5 pages of footnotes. I have to admit that at times I felt like I had to slog through the pages and at other times I was mesmerized, not able to put the book down. The novel either grabs the reader or drags him with it. It is a novel to read with reverence and respect. It also requires patience and fortitude. Having said that, I recommend this book to anyone who ever had questions of how the holocaust affected people personally, then and today. It tells this story in an exemplary fashion. It feels as if you are there and that is an amazing act of writing.
This is a long book but one which moves swiftly. Fundamentally as the book states is "what is memory." How does coincidence play a role in our lives. What part of our memories are better left forgotten.
Although this book shifts from the young black man to the white Professor, one leaves the portions asking for more. For those who enjoy, if we can use the word enjoy, books about the Holocaust and the battered life of a young black man, this is a must read.
Most recent customer reviews
Here, though, is an excellent expose of humanity and inhumanity.Read more