The Brothers Ashkenazi

  • by I. J. Singer
  • Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki
  • 17 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In the Polish city of Lodz, the Brothers Ashkenazi grew up very differently in talent and in temperament. Max, the firstborn, is fiercely intelligent and conniving, determined to succeed financially by any means necessary. Slower-witted Jacob is strong, handsome, and charming but without great purpose in life. While Max is driven by ambition and greed to be more successful than his brother, Jacob is drawn to easy living and decadence.
As waves of industrialism and capitalism flood the city, the brothers and their families are torn apart by the clashing impulses of old piety and new skepticism, traditional ways and burgeoning appetites, and the hatred that grows between faiths, citizens, and classes. Despite all attempts to control their destinies, the brothers are caught up by forces of history, love, and fate, which shape and, ultimately, break them.
First published in 1936, The Brothers Ashkenazi quickly became a best-seller as a sprawling family saga. Breaking away from the introspective shtetl tales of classic 19th-century writers, I. J. Singer brought to Yiddish literature the multilayered plots, large casts of characters, and narrative sweep of the traditional European novel. Walking alongside such masters as Zola, Flaubert, and Tolstoy, I. J. Singer’s pre-modernist social novel stands as a masterpiece of storytelling.Israel Joshua Singer (1893–1944)was born in Bilgoraj, Poland, the son of a rabbi. He contributed to Yiddish newspapers in Warsaw and Kiev, where his short story, “Pearls,” was published, which brought him immediate recognition. He came to the United States in 1934, and within two years The Brothers Ashkenazi was published, a work that was not only an instant success but was also destined to become a classic in its time.


What the Critics Say

“The book has the grand sweep of Tolstoy…with pitch-perfect artistry and pace.” (Wall Street Journal)
“One of the great books…It can be compared to Tolstoy’s War and Peace without condescension.” (New York Sun)
“The Brothers Ashkenazi rates a place on any shelf devoted to modern works of art.” (Newsweek)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Historical fiction at its finest

The story of three generations of the Ashkenazi family and set in 19th and 20th Eastern Europe, its themes are specific to that time and place, yet also universal. Illuminates the clash between traditional Judaism and the Jewish enlightenment, orthodoxy and progress, capitalism and workers rights, accepting the world as it is and risking your life to change it.

Good narration, with the exception of mangling some of the Yiddish.
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- Lisa

Great Book!

What a great book! Looking at reviews this book seems often to be pigeonholed as a book by a Jew and about Jews almost implying that it is for Jews. This is a great travesty. That’s like saying Crime and Punishment is by a Russian and for Russians, or Ulysses is by the Irish and for the Irish. This is a wonderful book about greed, oppression, and men pushed to the limits of life. Some parts are heavy and dark, some tender and loving, and often laced with bits of humor. I don’t think anyone will truly like the Ashkenazi’s, but I for one respect them in the same way as the protagonist of other great works. It will forever be in my group of favorite books.
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- Paul Z.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-19-2010
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.