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Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel by Shalom Auslander
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Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel (edition 2012)

by Shalom Auslander

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4273924,721 (3.53)26
Member:PghDragonMan
Title:Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel
Authors:Shalom Auslander
Info:Riverhead Hardcover (2012), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, Early Review Copy
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, new york state, holocaust, family interaction, anne frank

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Hope : A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
I bought this book spontaneously one day after spending way to much time on bookdepository.com. It had come up as a new release and I loved the cover and the author’s name, Shalom Auslander (his last name translated from German means foreigner).

The book was first published in 2012, but I didn’t actually start reading it until recently. It was one of those books that sat on my bookshelf collecting dust. Even though I don’t believe in fate, I still think that somehow this book was waiting for the right moment to catch my attention. Eventually that day came, and I decided to start reading the book a few days before I took a 3.5hr train ride to Germany. I figured it would be the perfect time to indulge this new book and author and to really see where the writing would take me.

With no real reference points, reviews or friendly recommendations to curb my biases about the book, I began to read. And I was mesmerized. The basic plot outline for this book is that a young Jewish family decide to move to a more country/suburban house to try to help their marriage and sickly child. The house has a funky smell, but is otherwise quaint and homely. The husband (and main character) Kugel begins to hear noises in the attic. After investigating, he finds that there is an old and rather crazy lady who claims to be Anne Frank.

“You’re frightening yourself.

You’re torturing yourself.

It’s narcissistic.

It’s delusions of grandeur.

It’s optimism.

It’s mice.

Didn’t sound like mice, though.” (4)

Auslander swaps between prose and poetics as he unveils the complications of marriage, family, and the burden of history. Germany after WWII went through, and is still going through an existential shift alongside the country’s coming to terms with the past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung in German). Auslander explores his idea of an American-Jewish man coming to terms with the past as well as issues of guilt and inter-generational trauma.

“Was he really going to throw an elderly, half-mad Holocaust survivor out of his house? Speak of madness! He could never do it, he knew that, even if she was old and emotionally damaged enough to think she was Anne Frank. Pity was a funny thing: it would be easier to throw out the real Anne Frank than it would be to throw out a Holocaust survivor so fucked up by the Holocaust that she thought she was Anne Frank. Can you imagine the headlines? Can you imagine the outrage?” (29)

As cliche as it sounds, I feel like this is a book that you will either love or hate. It is dark and morbid and you find yourself laughing at situations that make you feel uncomfortable. It is eye-opening and thought-inducing. Above it is weird and wonderful.

If you want to find out more about the book or Auslander you can go to his website:
http://www.shalomauslander.com/

( )
  bound2books | Feb 12, 2017 |
As I expected, it was inappropriately funny. The ending was a little weak, but overall, I really enjoyed this book and didn't want it to end. I am looking forward to Auslander's next novel, but I would prefer another collection of short stories. ( )
  RojaHorchata | Jul 11, 2016 |
The book follows Solomon Kugel, a neurotic Jewish man who has moved to the country with his wife and child, with his crazy mother in tow. One night after he moves in he discovers a hideous old lady in the loft - who claims to be Anne Frank.

The book continues with Kugel's growing neurosis, paranoia and rants.

I enjoyed this book for the most part, but by the end I have to admit I had lost interest. There was no real plot to speak of, and Kugel's ramblings got really tedious towards the end. I found this all a bit self-indulgent. When Kugel dies in a house fire at the end of the story, I found I didn't really care as I had no connection or empathy with his at all.

What I did find interesting was that I did 'believe' that it was Anne Frank in Kugel's attic despite finding this totally implausible to begin with. I also found the idea of the past and memories dictating the way you act today to be interesting also.

2.5 stars. ( )
  AHouseOfBooks | Jan 27, 2016 |
This book has the absolute craziest premise - Anne Frank is alive and well and living in the attic of a man's house in Stockton, New York! And she is foul mouthed to boot! Of course he can't kick her out, because he is Jewish, and if she is in fact Anne Frank, he doesn't want to be known as the Jew who betrayed her after she escaped the Nazis! Anne is working on a new book (after all, her first one was such an international success!) , and she enlists the poor guy into being her connection to the outside world, buying her supplies and such. And he is not at all happy about it, saying irreverently, "Fucking Anne Frank, man." Just crazy! He also spends a great deal of time thinking about what to say for his "last words" when he dies and treats us to many of the famous, and not so famous, final utterances of people throughout history. He even keeps a Last Words notebook! This book is often super funny, but funny in that cringing, extremely inappropriate way. Wow. I also enjoyed the style of the writing, specifically that the dialogue is not surrounded by quotation marks! Different for sure, but refreshing to read it that way! The ending was unsatisfying for me, but seems appropriate for such a strange and tragic tale. ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
Outrageously funny, so wildly original you forgive a certain amount of repetitiveness, a rude offspring of Philip Roth and Franz Kafka. The sort of book where you constantly want to put it down and call everyone you know to read them the passages you just read.

Solomon Kugel is a neurotic obsessed with death who recently moved with his family to a farmhouse in upstate New York. One night he hears noise coming from the attic, goes up to investigate, and discovers Anne Frank living up there. But not just any Anne Frank, but a cranky, old, foul-mouthed one who is trying to write a book but laboring under the weight of her previous book which, as she constantly reminds us, sold 32 million copies.

Meanwhile, downstairs Kugel's Mother is obsessed with the Holocaust, constantly invents stories about being a survivor, along with bizarre claims (like: see this lamp it's your uncle, but the sticker on it says "Made in Taiwan." Well they wouldn't put Made in Auschwitz on it would they. This then gets repeated with a bar of ivory soap).

The book explores optimism vs. pessimism, the former being personified in Kugel's brother-in-law (Pinckus, who appears to be a stand in for Stephen Pinker) and the later in Kugel and his hilarious psychiatrist Professor Jove.

I don't want to spoil any more, you should just read it. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
It's funny: it isn't the fire that kills you, it's the smoke.
Quotations
Upstairs.
In the attic.
A ticking?
A tapping.
As if some mouse were gently crapping, crapping on his attic floor.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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Book description
On retrouve toute la verve et l'imagination iconoclaste de ce jeune écrivain , bien décidé à s'en servir pour démontrer les nuisances de tout fondamentalisme
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Relocating his family to an unremarkable rural town in New York in the hopes of starting over, Solomon Kugel must cope with his depressive mother, a local arsonist, and the discovery of a believed-dead historical specimen hiding in his attic.

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