THE HUMAN SEASON by Edward Lewis Wallant
Kirkus Star


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Joe Berman has managed to make a good thing of his life in America. A Russian immigrant, he is a master plumber who has provided a comfortable home in New Haven for his two daughters, now married, his son, now dead, and his adored wife, Mary. But with Mary's death his home becomes an arena of menacing silence in which all day and night, Berman, bred in the orthodox tradition, screams in obscene terms his denial of the God who has used him as the butt of a vile joke. All external solace fails-liquor, sedatives, a series of obnoxious boarders, the kind efforts of friends, sex, television, and even his devoted children cannot assuage his terrible anger. A gigantic peasant with an innate refinement, Berman is the victim of his own emotional strength. Throughout the book he rehearses the important episodes of his life: the awkward courtship of the white skinned Mary; the inarticulate love he holds for his son; a ghetto attack on his scholarly father; his family's voyage from Russia to America; his mother's pitiful death among strangers in an American hospital; the devoted friendship of his partner; talks over tea with Mary, her stroke and her death. And then when he can endure no more, a suicide experience brings him a mystical experience of death through which he is able to reaffirm his Judaic God, unknown, all powerful. From this realization, Berman, exhausted, purged, rises. A first novel, The Human Season succeeds on two levels- as an absorbing portrait of a modern man and a compelling, compassionate retelling of the story of Job.

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 1960
ISBN: 0815605609
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace