From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina's Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won't accept him, strives for a wife who forever saves him, and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence - and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear. Nathan Englander's first novel is a timeless story of fathers and sons. In a world turned upside down, where the past and the future, and the nature of truth itself, all take shape according to a corrupt government's whims, one man, one spectacularly hopeless man, fights to overcome his history and his name - and, if for only once in his life, to put things right.
The Ministry of Special Cases, like Englander's stories before it, is a celebration of our humanity, in all its weakness and, despite that, hope.
"This is a staggeringly mature work, gracefully and knowledgeably set in a milieu far from the author's native New York....Four p's best describe this work: poignant, powerful, political, and yet personal." (Booklist)
"The fate of Argentina's Jews during the 1976-83 'Dirty War' is depicted with blistering emotional intensity in this startling first novel....Englander's story collection promised a brilliant future, and that promise is here fulfilled beyond all expectations." (Kirkus Reviews)
"An amazing amalgam of wit and heart-stopping suspense, with a cast of characters I fell in love with." (Nora Ephron)
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Difficult to penetrate
A good story, well written
Powerful, Painful, and Real. Real, despite that this story is fiction, almost alternative history.
There were no "likable" characters. My favorite character was the protagonist, Kaddish Poznan. He is an underdog, since before his birth to the end of the story. He never wins or even ties. Kaddish is well depicted as a strong man who always picks himself up and keeps going, even when going is the wrong thing to do. He is hard to like, but easy to hope for.
this is my first.
The story is too long for 1 sitting and too complex and difficult. I needed time between each 1 to 3 hours of listening to process what I had heard and fit it into what I had felt about the previous narrative.
A working knowledge of the era of Argentina's "disappeared" and of orthodox Judaism is helpful when listening to this story.