These eight new stories from the celebrated novelist and short-story writer Nathan Englander display a gifted young author grappling with the great questions of modern life, with a command of language and the imagination that place Englander at the very forefront of contemporary American fiction.
The title story, inspired by Raymond Carver’s masterpiece, is a provocative portrait of two marriages in which the Holocaust is played out as a devastating parlor game. In the outlandishly dark “Camp Sundown” vigilante justice is undertaken by a group of geriatric campers in a bucolic summer enclave. “Free Fruit for Young Widows” is a small, sharp study in evil, lovingly told by a father to a son. “Sister Hills” chronicles the history of Israel’s settlements from the eve of the Yom Kippur War through the present, a political fable constructed around the tale of two mothers who strike a terrible bargain to save a child. Marking a return to two of Englander’s classic themes, “Peep Show” and “How We Avenged the Blums” wrestle with sexual longing and ingenuity in the face of adversity and peril. And “Everything I Know About My Family on My Mother’s Side” is suffused with an intimacy and tenderness that break new ground for a writer who seems constantly to be expanding the parameters of what he can achieve in the short form.
Beautiful and courageous, funny and achingly sad, Englander’s work is a revelation.
"Englander's new collection of stories tells the tangled truth of life in prose that, as ever, surprises the reader with its gnarled beauty…. Certifiable masterpieces of contemporary short-story art." (Michael Chabon)
"A resounding testament to the power of the short story from a master of the form. Englander's latest hooks you with the same irresistible intimacy, immediacy and deliciousness of stumbling in on a heated altercation that is absolutely none of your business; it's what great fiction is all about." (Téa Obreht)
"It takes an exceptional combination of moral humility and moral assurance to integrate fine-grained comedy and large-scale tragedy as daringly as Nathan Englander does." (Jonathan Franzen)
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Englander at his best!
- Avi Stachenfeld
What I Talk about When I Talk About This Book
Captivating, Ambiguous, Touching
Each story was both specific to being Jewish and universal in the tale it had to tell. Although the characters were strangers I was sure I had met them somewhere in life.
In the first story the four characters get drunk and high together in a very unexpected situation. It felt very real to me and I had to play it over because I laughed so hard in parts.
The book made me laugh and cry. It was moving and sad in many parts. The story The Reader left me feeling empty and longing for the past.
This book moves at rapid pace and each story is just the right length for a workout or a car ride home. You will not want to stop listening even if your workout is over or if you have arched your destination.