The Brothers Ashkenazi was one of the most gripping books I have ever read. Sordid, unforgettable in its broad sweep of canvas, the picture of a race discarded, downtrodden but driven by a secret fire. Now comes his second novel, to reach the English speaking public, East of Eden. Again he shows unerring perception of the motivation of his characters, uncanny knowledge of the depths of poverty and the ways of thought and being in characters drawn from the lowest levels of Polish Jewry. Implicit in his story is a commentary on various levels of society which can allow such things to be; particularly of the upper crust of the prosperous Jews in a village where the pitiful family of the peddler Mattes have their being. But the book fails, somehow, to capture the sweep of universal drama which the other book achieved. It is an angry book, a sad book, a disillusioned book, and in the final section, where the peddler's son, Nachman, martyred for his faith in Communism, finds his ideals destroyed in Soviet Russia where the evils of the old system are cropping up again in the bureaucracy of the new, he makes his one tangible link with the issues of today. An important book but not easy reading, nor yet a book that will reach as wide a market as the earlier novel.