A New York City moving company gets into trouble when it starts doing evictions in a wide-ranging novel that touches on political, religious, and social issues.
David King’s father survived Buchenwald to open a U.S. furniture-moving business that his son has expanded while ruining his marriage via sex with his manager. As the book opens in 2015, David is divorced, has new teeth and hair plugs, and is awkwardly, comically schmoozing among WASPs at a political fundraiser in the Hamptons. He manages to connect with real estate mogul Fraunces Bower III, a link that will resonate in the novel’s climax. David’s Uncle Shoyl survived Auschwitz, and Shoyl’s grandson, Yoav, joins King’s Moving after compulsory service in the Israeli army. His squad-mate Uri is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life, and he also eventually flies to New York to work for the moving company. All these elements will come together when a Vietnam War veteran named Avery Luter/Imamu Nabi misses too many mortgage payments on the home he inherited from his mother and stages a mini-Occupation as the King moving company receives its first job from the Bower real estate empire—evicting Luter. Cohen (The Book of Numbers, 2015, etc.) shows an impressive knowledge of life in the cab of a moving van and in the ranks of the Israeli Defense Forces. He touches on two wars and two combat zones (counting brief allusions to Afghanistan). He is funny and caustic and has a marvelous snap in his dialogue.
For a writer whose last two novels total some 1,400 pages, Cohen has slimmed down here but still covers a lot of territory.