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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 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.
|Publisher:||Other Press, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.34(d)|
About 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 him immediate 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.