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The Brothers Ashkenazi
     

The Brothers Ashkenazi

4.0 2
by I.J. Singer
 

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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

Overview

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 nineteenth-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 premodernist social novel stands as a masterpiece of storytelling.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590514023
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
10/19/2010
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
427
Sales rank:
659,661
File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt

The children loved the yard, no one more so than Jacob Bunem.
   “Sima Meir,” he would cry in a loud voice that expressed his lust for life, “come
play tag.”
   “I don’t want to,” Simha Meir would say brusquely and turn away.
   The twins didn’t get along.
   Jacob Bunem would have preferred it otherwise. He was bigger, stronger, full of
laughter.
   “Jacob Bunem, why do you always laugh?” others asked.
   “Cause I feel like it,” he would say, and laugh again so that the others felt
compelled to join in.
   He put his whole heart and soul into the childish games. No one could run
faster, or find better hiding places in the foundation when they played hide and seek, or catch the ends of the cord the roper dragged through the courtyard. He
could excavate the biggest rocks and raise them overhead. He never grew tired of
the games. Not only did he enjoy playing, but he wanted everyone, especially his
brother, to do the same. But Simha Meir would have none of it.

Meet the Author

Israel Joshua Singer, the older brother of Nobel Prize–winning Isaac Bashevis Singer, was born in 1893 in Bilgoraj, Poland, the second of four children of a rabbi. In 1916 he contributed to Yiddish newspapers in Warsaw and then in Kiev, and in the latter city his short story, “Pearls,” was published, which brought himimmediate recognition. In 1921 I. J. Singer was hired as a correspondent for the Jewish Daily Forward. In 1927 he wrote his first novel, Steel and Iron, which was followed five years later by Yoshe Kalb. I . J. Singer 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. He died in New York on February 10, 1944.

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The Brothers Ashkenazi 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book in high school, and haven't stopped reading it yet. It's analysis of Jewish culture in a non-Jewish world, respect for history tugging against the need some people feel to move on, and family ties that both support and suffocate all rang true to me, a Jewish woman in assimilationist America. Do you move forward, potentially sacrificing your name and your language, or do you refuse to risk losing the only things that are family and G-d given? We watch as brothers answer these questions differently, and the repurcussions that visit them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago