Chabon, Safran Foer, Lethem – we sing their praises and love their quirky, cutting-edge stories. After reading, Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander should definitely be included with this crew.
This witty, unique novel takes place during Argentina’s “dirty war” and tells the tale of a middle-class, Jewish family that is just trying to make it in a world run by a terrorist government that is kidnapping and disappearing students and other leftist citizens. The story is about the complexity of family relationships and what happens to a family unit under times of duress and, ultimately, tragedy. The main character, Kaddish, is disliked by his son Pato, tolerated by his wife Lillian, and just tries to make his family happy while making a quick buck along the way. When Pato disappears, the many paths that Kaddish and Lillian follow to try and find him and their accompanying emotions keep the reader completely engrossed to the gripping finale.
- I know it’s a cliche, but this book makes you laugh, makes you cry, and experience the full range of all the emotions in between
- The writing is brilliant and the story is well constructed – full of symbolism, humor – and keeps the reader gripped until the end of the book
- Englander’s use of Judaic rituals and themes is clever and seamlessly interwoven throughout the book
- Introduced me to the Argentinian “dirty wars” which I knew nothing about and engaged me to do some research about what went on during those years
Big thumbs-up from me. Even better than Yiddish Policeman’s Union. (I know blasphemy…)