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Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander

I really enjoyed this book!  The main character, Solomon Kugel is a worrywart times five. He is Jewish, guilt-ridden and hopeless. He has moved his family to the suburbs for some peace, quiet, and fresh air… but he doesn’t get it. There is contention between he and his wife Bree because he has brought his ailing, elderly mother along for the move.  His mother believes that she is a holocaust survivor (she’s not!) and that the lampshade in the living room is her dead husband. His son Jonah is sickly and Solomon feels guilty for having brought him into this horrible world. In addition to his personal drama, there is maniac is burning down houses in his “peace, quiet, and fresh air” suburb.  If you think Mr. Kugel’s problems couldn’t get bigger, they do. Anne Frank is alive, unwell, and living in his attic, using the radiators as a toilet. Shalom Auslander is an author known for his determinately negative outlook on life, but he is so funny, so very, darkly funny.  He has been featured on This American Life and in the New Yorker. His most famous work is his 2007 memoir Foreskin’s Lament, which confronts his Orthodox Jewish background.  This is not a book for the warm and fuzzy crowd, but if you like a good, dark comedy, give Hope : A Tragedy a try.

Sherri M.

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