Mazel

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Mazel means luck in Yiddish, and luck is the guiding force in this magical and mesmerizing novel that spans three generations. Sasha Saunders is the daughter of a Polish rabbi who abandons the shtetl and wins renown as a Yiddish actress in Warsaw and New York. Her daughter Chloe becomes a professor of classics at Columbia. Chloe's daughter Phoebe grows up to become a mathematician who is drawn to traditional Judaism and the sort of domestic life her mother and grandmother ...
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1996 Paperback Good 100% of this purchase will support literacy programs through a nonprofit organization!

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1996 Paperback Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, may not ... include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

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1996 Paperback Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, and may not ... include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

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1996 Paperback Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, may not ... include cdrom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

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1996 Paperback Good Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, and may not ... include cd-rom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority! Read more Show Less

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New York, NY, U.S.A. 1996 Soft Cover Good. No Jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. Minor shelf wear.

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Overview

Mazel means luck in Yiddish, and luck is the guiding force in this magical and mesmerizing novel that spans three generations. Sasha Saunders is the daughter of a Polish rabbi who abandons the shtetl and wins renown as a Yiddish actress in Warsaw and New York. Her daughter Chloe becomes a professor of classics at Columbia. Chloe's daughter Phoebe grows up to become a mathematician who is drawn to traditional Judaism and the sort of domestic life her mother and grandmother rejected.
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Editorial Reviews

Jewish Book World
Three generations of fascinating women -- grandmother, mother and daughter -- are seen through their interaction and their particular milieu. In the course of the narrative, goldstein touches on questions of chance and coincidence as they affect lives; Jewish identity and ritual as they impact on the three women. Pheobe Saunders, the Princeton professor who is an expert on the mathematics of soap bubbles, triggers a return to the past for her grandmother, whose roots are in a Polish shtetl.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
One expects provocative fiction from Goldstein (The Mind-Body Problem), a quality amply fulfilled in her third novel,which is also her most accessible and beguiling. She has not, however, abandoned her philosophical turn of mind: the central question here is whether fate or chance (luck, or mazel) has the most influence on life's circumstances. To Sasha Saunders, ne Sorel Sonnenberg, born in a Polish shtetl and now a sophisticated New Yorker, there is no question that mazel is the predominant factor. Her daughter Chloe, a professor of classics at Columbia, and her granddaughter Phoebe (seen previously in the short-story collection Strange Attractors), a Princeton mathematician, lean toward determinism. But Sasha, an ``irrepressible champion of chance and disorder,'' considers the death of her beloved older sister, Fraydel, the chance event and catalyst by which her life has taken shape. When the family moved to Warsaw, Sasha became the star player in an avant garde Yiddish theater group; WWII eventually brought her to America but never extinguished her irreverence and instinct for drama. While all the characters are etched with compassion and wit, Goldstein's portrayal of Fraydel is haunting; this character's frantic, incandescent imagination is expressed in a prescient folktale that she relates. Goldstein conjures the world of the shtetl with rare grace and affection; her portrayal of Jewish life in Warsaw before the war captures the heady excitement, the intellectual ferment and the cultural vigor of that doomed era. She is equally acute in describing the Orthodox Jewish community of Lipton, N.J., where the rituals and traditions of shtetl life have been preserved-with, as Sasha says, ``a designer label.'' Laughter and tears are summoned equally by this novel, one that discriminating readers won't want to miss. (Oct.)
Library Journal
A fine storyteller, Goldstein probes the lives of Jewish women and the role that mazel, or luck, has played in their achievements. Here she presents three generations of Saunders women-Sacha, a well-known actress from the Yiddish stage; her daughter, Chloe, a professor of classics at Columbia University; and Chloe's daughter, Phoebe, a physicist and an expert on the mathematics of soap bubbles. (The Saunders family was previously seen in Goldstein's Strange Attractors, Viking, 1994.) It is Phoebe who has come full circle, accepting what the two generations before have rejected-she lives in suburban New Jersey, is expecting a baby, and has bought into the traditional Jewish lifestyle of her in-laws. The generational stories interweave as we travel with Sacha from the Polish shtetl of her childhood, to the prewar Warsaw of her youth, to New York and on to Lipton, New Jersey, to attend her granddaughter's imminent delivery. Emotions, intellect, beauty, flamboyance, all evident in some measure in one or another of the Saunders women, would be insufficient without a little bit of mazel. The retelling of all these lives may be a bit cloying for some, but others will find it good reading. Recommended for popular collections.-Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.
School Library Journal
YA-Mazel-luck in Yiddish-enables Sasha to escape both her confining little village in rural Poland and the confusion and horror of Warsaw's ghetto on the eve of World War II. But it is Sasha's independent spirit and creativity that are her legacies to her daughter Chloe and her granddaughter Phoebe. Sasha's story, interwoven with fairy tales and Yiddish folktales, is told with humor and feeling for the details of Jewish life. This novel challenges YAs on a variety of levels: What is the price of success? Can we ever escape our past? How influential is family in the molding of character? The text is sprinkled with Yiddish words and references, most of which are understandable in context.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
From the Publisher

"Shimmering with humor and intelligence."—The New Yorker

"From the first lines of Goldstein’s enchanting novel Mazel . . . comes a voice redolent of matzoh balls and Schopenhauer, feeding body and spirit."—Village Voice

"Goldstein has written female characters as worthy of Phillip Roth and Grace Paley as they are of their grand European progenitors, Sholem Aleichem and S. Y. Agnon."—Los Angeles Times

"A superb storyteller, Goldstein not only brings the almost-vanished world of Eastern European Jewry to life bit also conveys the depth and power of that culture."—San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140239058
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/15/1996
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 7.72 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Goldstein
Rebecca Goldstein is author of The Mind-Body Problem, The Late-Summer Passion of a Woman of Mind, The Dark Sister, Strange Attractors, and Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics. A MacArthur Prize Fellow, she is professor of philosophy at Trinity College.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2004

    Beautiful and Moving

    Without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read. Goldstein has the most beautifully lyrical style that grips the heart and the imagination. Her character development is wonderful. I have recommended this book to numerous people in my life and they have never been disappointed.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2004

    Outstanding

    A compelling novel by a writer with a crushing power

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2008

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