Following up his acclaimed debut, The Yid (2016), Goldberg confirms his status as one of Jewish fiction's liveliest new...

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THE CHÂTEAU

Adrift and broke after losing his job at the Washington Post, William Katzenelenbogen descends into Trump-ian madness while visiting his estranged father in South Florida.

Once a prizewinning investigative science reporter, Bill is motivated to fly South by the death of his old college roommate, Zbignew Wronski, a cosmetic surgeon known as the "Butt God of Miami Beach." Zbig fell from the 43rd-floor balcony of a hotel. Prodded by an old flame who wrote a bestselling memoir after the Post fired her for fabricating stories, Bill thinks there may be a book in his famous friend's apparent suicide. But the story that engulfs him is his Russian father Melsor's antic campaign against Greenstein, the Jewish fascist who heads the ruling block on the corrupt board of the old man’s crumbling condo, the Château. Once a famed poet and dissident in Moscow (where Bill grew up), the 83-year-old Melsor has become a shameless hustler and supporter of "Donal'd Tramp," as he renders the name. He was indicted for Medicare fraud in New York for running a crooked ambulette service for invalids. Bill has never forgiven him for having a "two-bit crook" treat his late mother's breast cancer, leading to her early death. A master of dark, cutting humor, restless and allusive, Goldberg turns the Château, its Lexus-driving Russians, and a nearly 90-year-old American WWII veteran who drunkenly shoots at the ocean with his machine gun every night into a mad metaphor for Trump’s America. The longer Bill stays, the more he gets dragged into its seamy swamp.

Following up his acclaimed debut, The Yid (2016), Goldberg confirms his status as one of Jewish fiction's liveliest new voices, walking in the shoes of such deadpan provocateurs as Mordecai Richler and Stanley Elkin.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-11609-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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