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The Jewish Messiah
     

The Jewish Messiah

by Arnon Grunberg, Sam Garrett (Translator)
 

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The new novel by the internationally acclaimed author- "a farce of nuclear proportions"(Vanity Fair)

Arnon Grunberg is one of the most subtly outrageous provocateurs in world literature. The Jewish Messiah, which chronicles the evolution of one Xavier Radek from malcontent grandson of a former SS officer, to Jewish convert, to co- translator of

Overview

The new novel by the internationally acclaimed author- "a farce of nuclear proportions"(Vanity Fair)

Arnon Grunberg is one of the most subtly outrageous provocateurs in world literature. The Jewish Messiah, which chronicles the evolution of one Xavier Radek from malcontent grandson of a former SS officer, to Jewish convert, to co- translator of Hitler's Mein Kampf into Yiddish, to Israeli politician and Israel's most unlikely prime minister, is his most outrageous work yet. Taking on the most well-guarded pieties and taboos of our age, The Jewish Messiah is both a great love story and a grotesque farce that forces a profound reckoning with the limits of human guilt, cruelty, and suffering. It is without question Arnon Grunberg's masterpiece.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Grunberg rejects self-serving existentialism, confronts real-world torture, genocide, terrorism, and personal crimes of the heart, and he infuses his visceral, wily satire with biblical fury."
-Los Angeles Times "Arnon Grunberg is known for writing incendiary novels, but...The Jewish Messiah pushes his bleak sense of humor into new realms....Much more than an impolite screed; Grunberg wants to incite dialogue, not controversy."
- Time Out New York
Library Journal

Xavier Radek of Basel, Switzerland, is the son of lapsed Jews, with a grandfather on his mom's side said to have been in the SS. As a teenager, Xavier vows to become the "comforter of the Jews"-a tall order because they already had Israel, "Einstein and Billy Wilder." He befriends and becomes the lifelong lover of Awromele Michalowitz, son of a pseudorabbi. Xavier endures a horribly botched circumcision as part of his conversion. Then he and Awromele set out to translate Mein Kampfinto Yiddish and embark on a series of mishaps and adventures that take them to Amsterdam and, eventually, Israel. There Xavier enters politics and rises to become ha-Radek, Israel's leader, while Awromele sticks with Xavier but has constant affairs on the side because his mother taught him Jews should not say no (go figure). Often funny, often touching, often unbelievable, this phantasmagoria, idiomatically translated by Garrett, is for all readers who enjoy an offbeat, slightly madcap tale.
—Edward Cone

Kirkus Reviews
A deliberately provocative fantasy of good intentions turned apocalyptic. Dutch author Grunberg's sensation-seeking new novel (Phantom Pain, 2004, etc.) may seem audacious to some, offensive to others. It tramples upon religious sentiments and makes use of anti-Semitic stereotypes in its examination of Swiss Xavier Radek's ambition to serve a movement with enthusiasm, as did his German grandfather, a member of the SS. Radek chooses to bring comfort to the Jews-the same race his grandfather referred to as "enemies of happiness"-and so the boy attends synagogue, swims in the Rhine with young Zionists and makes friends with a rabbi's son, Awromele, from whom he requests help to become circumcised. But the circumcision goes badly, leading to the amputation of one of Xavier's testicles, which he keeps in a jar and calls "King David." Plenty more savage and sexual material threads the story. Awromele and Xavier fall in love, and Awromele is badly beaten by a band of Kierkegaard-quoting boys as a result. Xavier is also the love object of Marc, his mother's boyfriend; she, meanwhile, is viciously self-harming with a bread knife she calls her lover and eventually commits murder. Awromele and Xavier, who are working on translating Mein Kampf into Yiddish, relocate to Amsterdam to allow Xavier to train as an artist. Later they move to Israel where Xavier becomes a politician and is elected prime minister. "King David" is viewed by increasing numbers of Jews as the Redeemer returned in a unique guise, and Xavier sells nuclear warheads to small nations, thereby fulfilling his goal of bringing comfort to the Jews-in the form of world destruction. The Hitlerian parallels culminate with Xavier alone in abunker, with his dogs and dead lover. A highly questionable, sprawling, dispassionate, mordantly modern black comedy: more shock than awe.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143114970
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/24/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
480
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Grunberg rejects self-serving existentialism, confronts real-world torture, genocide, terrorism, and personal crimes of the heart, and he infuses his visceral, wily satire with biblical fury."
-Los Angeles Times "Arnon Grunberg is known for writing incendiary novels, but...The Jewish Messiah pushes his bleak sense of humor into new realms....Much more than an impolite screed; Grunberg wants to incite dialogue, not controversy."
- Time Out New York

Meet the Author

Arnon Grunberg's novels have both been translated into twenty languages. Blue Mondays and (writing as Marek van der Jagt) The Story of My Baldness were both winners of the Anton Wachter Prize for debut fiction, making him the only novelist to have won it twice.

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