The elusive Solomon Gursky died in a plane crash. Or did he? Thats one of many questions 52-year-old sexually dysfunctional biographer Moses Berger is determined to answer. Long obsessed with the insanely wealthy, bootlegging Jewish-Canadian Gursky clan, Berger is desperately trying to chronicle the stories of their lives. But solving the mystery has its problems: namely, the Gurskys confusing & convoluted family tree & Bergers own unyielding fondness for alcohol. This is an irreverent, labyrinthine, ...
The elusive Solomon Gursky died in a plane crash. Or did he? Thats one of many questions 52-year-old sexually dysfunctional biographer Moses Berger is determined to answer. Long obsessed with the insanely wealthy, bootlegging Jewish-Canadian Gursky clan, Berger is desperately trying to chronicle the stories of their lives. But solving the mystery has its problems: namely, the Gurskys confusing & convoluted family tree & Bergers own unyielding fondness for alcohol. This is an irreverent, labyrinthine, & bitingly hilarious work of brilliant invention. Extravagantly adventurous & malevolently comic.
Brimming with sardonic humor, antic imagination and bravura storytelling skill, Richler's fifth novel after Joshua Was Here is an interlocking account of the outrageously bold and daring eponymous protagonist, and of his would-be biographer, brilliant but alcoholic Moses Berger, obsessed with discovering the mysteries of Solomon's life and--maybe--his death. Perhaps inspired by Canada's Bronfman family, Richler creates the three Gursky brothers, bootleggers turned liquor industry tycoons, who are descended from the legendary rapscallion, lecher and arctic explorer Ephraim Gursky. Ephraim's exploits--among other things, he was a survivor of Sir John Francis's ill-fated 1845 expedition to search for the Northwest Passage--are echoed in the adventures of his grandson Solomon, who fights with his treacherous brother Bernard for control of the burgeoning empire. Engrossed in his Gursky research, Moses abandons his once-promising career and endures the loss of the woman he loves. Constructed jigsaw fashion with kaleidoscopic chronology, the novel takes on the tension of a thriller as several mysteries--Why do the members of an Eskimo tribe wear shawls with four fringes? Is cannibalism a family trait? Did Solomon really die in the plane crash?--escalate simultaneously. As usual, Richler does a perfect, irreverent take on all levels of Canadian society, including impoverished, raunchy backwoodsmen, rabid racists, Jewish parvenus and dessicated blueblood Montrealers. If some of his scenes verge on high camp a bloody Passover seder is a bit outre he gives readers their money's worth of humor, suspense and all-round entertainment. 40,000 first printing; BOMC alternate. Apr.
After a ten-year hiatus, Richler, one of Canada's premier novelists, returns with a ribald reworking of Canadian history that chronicles the fortunes of the mythical Gursky family. (His last novel was Joshua Then and Now, LJ 5/15/80.) From patriarch Ephraim, a con man who arrived with a doomed British Arctic exploration team, through his bootlegger grandsons Bernard, Solomon, and Morrie, who parlayed prohibition into a distillery fortune, the Gurskys' penchant for grand and petty larceny is played off against upper-crust Canadian and English society, torn between greed and anti-Semitism. Moses Berger, Solomon's appropriately alcoholic biographer, assembles the pieces of Gursky history in a hilarious narrative that jumps back and forth from Victorian England to modern Montreal and all points in between. With a cast of outlandishly funny characters, Richler skewers the pretensions of the rich, the religious, and the avaricious in his best novel yet. Essential. BOMC alternate; previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/89.-- Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, Kan.
Mordecai Richler (1931-2001) wrote ten novels; numerous screenplays, essays, children's books; and several works of non-fiction. He gained international acclaim with The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, which was later made into a movie. During his career, he was the recipient of dozens of literary awards, including two Governor General's Awards, The Giller Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. Mordecai Richler was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2001.