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Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof Hardcover – October 22, 2013
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“As rich and dense as a chocolate babka-so crammed with tasty layers that you have to pace yourself... As brilliant a piece of reporting as I've read this year.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Exuberant.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“An illuminating and detailed history.” ―The Jewish Daily Forward
“Glorious... A thrilling, must-read book... In more than thirty years of reading, writing and thinking about theater as an actor, critic and fan, I've never read a book on the subject that taught or moved me as much – reflecting Solomon's ability to weave gobs of meticulous research into a compelling, beautifully written story.” ―Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“The aptly-titled Wonder of Wonders is the richest, deepest, most far-ranging, continuously and delightfully surprising book about a single work of theatrical art I've ever encountered. An intellectually serious, playful, and insightful account of popular art's power to shape memory and transmute history into universal myth, it is a soul-stirring joy to read, and only Alisa Solomon could have written it.” ―Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America
“I expected that this book would revive many treasured memories, which it certainly did. What I didn't expect to find was the fascinating history of Sholem-Aleichem's Tevye's Daughters or the riveting and unexpectedly moving account of Fiddler's fortunes after the end of the musical's Broadway run. I have always been proud of Fiddler, but never more so than after reading this astonishing book.” ―Sheldon Harnick, lyricist, Fiddler on the Roof
“Alisa Solomon was put on earth to write this exceptional and essential book. A world-class theater critic, a learned Yiddishist, a trenchant journalist, and just a plain wonderful writer, she has brought all her skills to bear in tracing the history of the Tevye stories that became Fiddler on the Roof. The Broadway musical, in her hands, becomes a Rosetta Stone for understanding the Jewish journey” ―Samuel G. Freedman, author of Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry
“Wonder of Wonders is a wonder! Alisa Solomon explains in vivid detail how and why Fiddler on the Roof became iconic as both authentically Jewish and universally relevant. A fantastic storyteller, an astute cultural interpreter, and a superb critic, Solomon offers an elegantly crafted, moving, thoughtful, and entertaining account of Fiddler's journeys across time and place. This is the story of Fiddler for the ages.” ―Stacy Wolf, author of Changed for Good: A Feminist History of the Broadway Musical
“If you think you have seen Fiddler on the Roof, think again. The wonder of it all is the magic that transformed stories by Sholem-Aleichem into a near universal icon of enduring power. How that happened, the multifarious forms and meanings of Fiddler on the Roof, is the subject of Alisa Solomon's meticulously researched and beautifully written book.” ―Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, author of Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage
“Wonder of Wonders combines probing theater history with incisive cultural studies and a compelling narrative. From Sholem-Aleichem's Tevye stories to the triumphant Broadway musical, from politically charged productions in Brooklyn, Tel Aviv, and Kraków to the sanctification of Fiddler numbers in Jewish ritual, Alisa Solomon traces the transformation of Fiddler into a cultural phenomenon that has powerfully spoken for American Jews as well as so many others around the world.” ―Jeffrey Shandler, author of Shtetl: A Vernacular Intellectual History
About the Author
Alisa Solomon teaches at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where she directs the Arts & Culture concentration in the MA program. A theater critic and general reporter for The Village Voice from 1983 to 2004, she has also contributed to The New York Times, The Nation, Tablet, The Forward, and other publications. Her first book, Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender, won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. She lives in New York City.
Top customer reviews
I read this two years ago so I don't recall the details, but I highly recommend it. Zero Mostel was a wonderful actor.
I was privileged to know Ann through her brother, novelist Jerry Marcus, who gave me access to her private letters and book of memories about that special time in her life. During her role as “Tzeitel,” Ann played opposite Zero Mostel, Luther Adler, and Herschel Bernardi. “Variety” magazine reported that Ann “has a lovely emotional quality as the oldest daughter, and Julia Migenes and Tanya Everett seem more natural and touching than formerly.” (August 18, 1965). In June 1965, Ann represented the show in a tribute to Sholem Aleichem at Carnegie Hall, sponsored by the Women’s Division of the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York. The Director’s thank you note read: “The ‘Matchmaker Song’ was certainly a highlight of the afternoon for all of us in the audience.”
A rising star of the Broadway Stage beginning in the late 1950s, Ann also played as Lady Lucille in “Once Upon a Mattress” with Carol Burnett; in “The Wall” with George C. Scott; and in “West Side Story” with Carol Lawrence. Ann’s beautiful voice caught the attention of New York City critics when as Consuela in “West Side Story,” she sang the “Somewhere” solo.