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Call It Sleep by Henry Roth

Call It Sleep (1934)

by Henry Roth

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1,778356,582 (3.87)103
When Henry Roth published his debut novel Call It Sleep in 1934, it was greeted with considerable critical acclaim though, in those troubled times, lackluster sales. Only with its paperback publication thirty years later did this novel receive the recognition it deserves-- --and still enjoys. Having sold-to-date millions of copies worldwide," Call It Sleep" is the magnificent story of David Schearl, the " dangerously imaginative" child coming of age in the slums of New York.… (more)

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English (32)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
I love reading about early 20th Century New York and this book recreates it in minute detail. Parts of it were hard to get through and I had trouble following the narrative in some sections. But this is a book that should be taught in schools and read by everyone. How was this never made into a movie??

The more I ponder this book, and reread sections, the more it takes my breath away with its complex structure and breathtaking ambition. What a fabulous novel. Not an easy read, but I think this will stay with me for a long, long time. ( )
  Gittel | Jan 7, 2020 |
I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't always trying to decipher what David and his friends were saying. ( )
  carliwi | Sep 23, 2019 |
This was an intriguing and interesting novel. It's a shame that it's the author's only novel, as I feel that he had much to offer the literary world. Some parts of it are extremely well-written and speak wonders and volume. The story itself meanders and diverges a lot, but overall-- it is still a highly readable and palatable book. ( )
  DanielSTJ | Dec 22, 2018 |
Told from the perspective of six year old David Schearl, Call It Sleep relates the hardships of immigrant life in turn of the century gritty New York City. In the prologue, David and his mother arrive from Austria to join her abusive and angry husband. This is the of the few times the narrative is outside little six year old David's head. The majority of the story is a stream of consciousness, skillfully painting a portrait of inner city life from a child's point of view.
As an aside, in the beginning I questioned why David's father would abhor David to the point of criminal abuse. It took awhile to figure out why.
But, back to little David. His young life is filled with fear. He is overwhelmed by language differences between Yiddish and English, overly sensitive to the actions of his peers, clings to his mother with Freudian zeal. I found him to be a really hopeless child and my heart bled for him. While most of the story is bleak, there is the tiniest ray of hope at the end. The pessimists in the crowd might have a negative explanation for what David's father does, but I saw it as a small gesture of asking for forgiveness. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Oct 22, 2018 |
Not a fun read, an American Jewish novel of young fearful 7-8 year old boy in a relentlessly misogynistic environment, only the mother is good, though her past is shaded, all other encounters with women are horror filled, although to be fair there aren’t many positive encounters with men or boys either - the policemen coming off the best. ( )
  quondame | Dec 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (59 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Roth, Henryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allen, Walter ErnestAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maisel, JayCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roth, WalterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schalekamp, Jean A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Beccy deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Standing before the kitchen sink and regarding the bright brass faucets that gleamed so far away, each with a bead of water at its nose, slowly swelling, falling, David again became aware that this world had been created without thought of him.
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Average: (3.87)
1 4
1.5 3
2 19
2.5 4
3 51
3.5 16
4 72
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5 80

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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