Book info

The Frozen Rabbi (2010)

The Frozen Rabbi (2010)
Author
Rating
3.09 of 5 Votes: 4
ISBN
156512619X (ISBN13: 9781565126190)
languge
English
publisher
Algonquin Books
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The Frozen Rabbi (2010)
The Frozen Rabbi (2010)

About book: With his novel, Steve Stern takes us on a journey through the history of Jewish diaspora. In the 19th century, a Hasidic rabbi is (literally) turning into a block of ice during his meditating in a pond nearby a progrom-ridden shtetl in Poland, found later and being passed down in the Karp family over generations. Until 2002, the rabbi travels from his place of origin to the ghetto in Lodz, to the Lower East Side of Manhattan and finally to Memphis, where he is being defrosted during a blackout, comes back to life and is being introduced to a contemporary America by lonely and not very popular teenager Bernie.Combined with just the right amount of humor, The Frozen Rabbi is a very entertaining read. Additionally, we learn about some of the history of Jews by reading about the lives of fictional characters and occasions; all the historical facts mentioned in the novel could have happened in real life, similarly to Stern's tragic stories of his contemporary characters. Apart from the whole "defrost-the-old-guy"-story, of course (which reminded me of so many movies from the 90's). I'd highly recommend this novel to everyone who enjoys a little bit of historical fiction combined with the right amount of humor. The edition I read also included 12 "questions for discussion", which make this a great pick for a book club, since the novel provides a good basis for interesting discussions.There's one little drawback, though: since this novel tells the story of Jewish immigrants, they tend to speak Yiddish. Therefore, I am glad to know German, which let me understand some of the Yiddish, since none of the expressions had been translated into English (at least not in my edition).A very entertaining as well as educational read. I award The Frozen Rabbi with four stars because it is funny and I found it to be a great read for a long-distance flight. However, it didn't really touch me emotionally and, even if I recommend reading it, I wouldn't re-read it. I felt different ways about this book at different times along the narrative. My favorite part was the story line about Jochaved and Schmerle; I looked forward to it during the Bernie interludes, and never really stopped missing it once the story moved on beyond their time. The writing is funny and understated in all the right places. As a fellow Memphian, I felt a little insulted by the repeated references to lilacs, which do not grow here, and the idea that in 2002 we would have had a racist mayor grumbling about improper mixing. We elected our first black mayor in 1991! I also still am not sure how I feel about the ending. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable read.
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Reviews
millie
A fun read, at least at the start. Gets a bit silly towards the end. Phillip Roth it is not.
amij
Loved it! What do you do when the rabbi in the basement freezer thaws out and runs away?
ruben92b
Very creative, very very strange.....
cherry
Delightfully wierd...
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