Adam Mansbach 2008

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The End of the JewsTHE END OF THE JEWS
320 pages
Spiegel & Grau
ISBN 0385520441


"Smart... engaging... exquisite. Original in the way it explores the creative interchange between blacks and Jews and the give-and-take dynamic of artistic partnership. Mansbach's characters are sharply drawn... the creative partnerships among artists are suggestively and beautifully portrayed." —New York Times Book Review

"Mansbach has a talent for writing full, memorable characters that seem untidy and complex... [his] prose crackles with insight. The End of the Jews spans three generations, two countries, a half-dozen subcultures, a dozen characters and a handful of narrative styles and literary techniques... a radiant world in Mansbach's hands."San Francisco Chronicle

"A beautiful, funny, heartbreaking book that manages to take on art, love, identity, class anxiety, being Jewish, and wishing you were black. Very few writers could have attempted all this without farcical results. Adam Mansbach succeeds, brilliantly. [He] displays a seemingly magical gift for writing about any place or milieu. One of the perils of fiction of this scope is that it can degenerate into faux social history and the characters become window dressing for the sweep of events. Mansbach is too good for that, his people too real in all their pain and energy and weakness. No plot summary could ever convey the emotional power of this novel, a meditation on identity, on family, and on art, and what it can cost the people who love the artist. The End of the Jews is an intense, painful, poignant book."The Boston Globe

"Compelling... Mansbach makes this turf his own through powerful descriptive passages and keen social analysis. The book is a saga of relentless self-creation. It celebrates the exuberance of youth and tenderly acknowledges the difficulties of aging as Tristan's mind and body begin to fail him. Its intelligence and imagination are a delight." Washington Post Book World

"There's an intriguing twist to this family saga. The End of the Jews is set against some of the great events of the 20th century, each of which figures in how the characters see themselves, their relationships and their art. Mansbach brings off some extraordinary scenes. Unique in my reading experience... The defining moment comes when Tris confronts the tension between his aspirations and his authentic self -- the challenge of finding "something no one can deny." That's the real story here, and it's one that never ends."The Los Angeles Times Book Review

"It must be said, straight out: Mansbach's prose is a pleasure to read. Witty, gritty, often melodic, it rolls unapologetically through a well-sustained balance of crass and polished, real and imaginary, dramatic and humorous. Self-reflection permeates the narrative, which never takes itself too seriously but still strikes truths both illuminating and heartbreaking. The characters are round, rich, complex and intense. They are characters you can trust to come out of their battles intact, displaying their open wounds and their subsequent scars - many acquired through their interactions with each other - in their inner observations. And Mansbach's physical depictions of the numerous non-white characters are effortlessly and refreshingly descriptive, rather than classificatory, revealing a natural color blindness in both author and characters that should not seem as unusual in white-written literature as it does. This book, ultimately a story of art, family and personal integrity, offers Jews a chance to do two of the things we do best: laugh at ourselves and contemplate our place in the world. As a provocative, masterfully written exploration of cultural identity, it rightfully earns itself a place on shelves and coffee tables worldwide." Jerusalem Post

"Tantalizingly close to greatness… a stirring panoramic snapshot. The ambition and artfulness in the majority of the novel’s pages earns it the right to be part of the same conversation as Call It Sleep and The Ghost Writer."Washington City Paper

"A poignant, serious, and often hilarious piece of modern fiction. The author possesses a powerful control of language, a refined imagination and an extrodinary empathy. Clever, hip, broadly informed… Mansbach is at his best, provoking us to think hard about origins, identity, race and ethnicity."Haaretz (Israel)

"[A] crisp, energetic tale... Mansbach is a gifted and talented storyteller. His latest book brims with prose that soars and wit that is reaffirming."Tucson Citizen

"A serious and sweeping multigenerational epic full of determined artists, identity politics and fraught relationships. It features hip-hop bar mitzvah DJs and urban-graffiti expeditions. But it spends more time examining the creative process and the shifting landscape of the American Jewish Diaspora. With roving, insightful omniscience—ricocheting empathetically from grandfather to grandson, grandmother to girlfriend—Mansbach considers the predicaments of artists and the pratfalls of love. A deeply thoughtful novel full of characters and conflicts. And unlike the fictional Tristan Brodsky, who asserts that literary truth takes no prisoners, Mansbach’s book suggests an author who is careful and humane—more reverential of human complexity and more impressive for it." —Time Out New York (read full review here)

"The End of the Jews swings with grit and self-knowledge. Mansbach nails the itchy resentment embedded in the symbiotic relationship between artist and subject—the four characters often find their inspiration in each other and in their continued failure to connect."Time Out Chicago

"What's a young writer to do when he has powerhouses like Phillip Roth and Saul Bellow as literary forefathers? Take them on, of course. [In] his clever, energetic new novel, Mansbach continues to explore his preoccupations with race and identity. But his sympathetic portrayal of women in the story -- and even of the cantankerous Tristan Brodsky -- show that, like graffiti artists, he can write on even larger canvasses when he wants to." Santa Cruz Sentinel

"[Mansbach] has a big brain. He uses it with skill in his latest novel The End of the Jews, which marries our 21st century’s postmodern overload with the last century’s clumsy geopolitical and artistic fumblings, without sacrificing generational sensitivity." Huffington Post

"With unparalleled artistic energy and intellectual rigor, Mansbach creates a riveting story through which he explores the intersections of black and Jewish culture in America. 'It is a fat, frenzied, polemical novel, broad-ranging and morally messy,' our narrator describes a book written by one of the novel's principal characters, Tristan Brodsky. The capsule description aptly describes Mansbach's novel, as well. It's the kind of Jewish vision that in its expansiveness, its picaresque treatment of the Jew across the broad racial landscape of America and Europe, harkens back to the spirit of Malamud, Bellow, and Roth, and offers a refreshing contrast to what I'd describe as the insular quality of much recent Jewish writing.Mansbach's novel just might herald a fruitful new start, rather than portend the end, of the Jews in America." (read the full review here)

"The End of the Jews is blessed with a jogging, propulsive, continuous, forward motion. A truly energetic writer."New York Post

"Mansbach searchingly examines the fraught relations between Jews and gentiles, blacks and whites, men and women, artists and those who nurture them. Painfully honest, compassionately cognizant of human frailty and complexity, alive to the magic of creativity yet aware of its consequences—very exciting fiction indeed." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A delight." —Publishers Weekly

"A sweeping tale composed of interwoven story lines that defy simple synopsis. What makes Mansbach’s novel unique is his depiction of how the complexities of life in the margins are played out in intrafamily relationships: what family members don’t tell each other, how they treat each other, and the silences and secrets that tear at the fabric of that basic unit. The End of the Jews offers a technically-refined approach [and] complex characters. By deftly revealing the psychology of cultural anxiety that binds generations, it succeeds. A very strong novel." —The Bloomsbury Review

"A sweeping generational tale about America, literature, ethnic identity, and a grandfather-grandson graffiti bombing run. [Mansbach] has the passion, the whip-smart intelligence, and the cadence and flow of a spoken-word hip-hop chronicler — which he is." —SF Weekly

"Adam Mansbach is a true talent and his new book is a masterwork of the Jewish arts of humor and sadness." —Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng

"Lyrical, brave, and moving . . . further proof of Adam Mansbach's formidable talent. At every turn, The End of the Jews is startling in its honesty. This novel is not to be missed." —Daniel Alarcón, author of Lost City Radio

"As Czeslaw Milosz famously said, 'When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished,' but Adam Mansbach takes this notion to new extremes in this smart, moving novel. This is fascinating, scorching drama." —Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land

"Mansbach has made something new of the multigenerational Jewish epic; this is far more tough-minded reading than we are used to on the subject. I don't love Jews any less for it, and neither does Mansbach, but I do know us better for what we are. This is a heartfelt, truthful book." —Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men

"Few writers tackle a story with as much sheer vigor as Adam Mansbach. Replete with sorrow, humor, and furious energy, The End of the Jews is an unflinching novel of hard truth." —Peter Orner, author of Esther Stories

"A writer bold enough for these times, Adam Mansbach delivers a stunning examination of the evolution of American history, identity, Blacks and Jews, together with an incredible ability to fuse them all. An amazing portrait of love, betrayal, despair and the surviving power of the human spirit. I enjoyed it immensely." —Bakari Kitwana, author of The Hip Hop Generation

"With no wasted words, The End of the Jews delves into race relations, social issues, responsibility to family and loved ones, conflicting loyalties, and betrayal. As a bonus, the reader is treated to a musical romp through most of the 20th century. The writing is powerful, descriptive, and contemporary. The dialogue is pitch perfect. Strong, well drawn, compassionate characters propel the narrative. Adam Mansbach probes cultural perceptions of what it means to be Jewish, or African-American; how the two identities can intersect. This multigenerational saga is rich, informative, and very entertaining from the first page until the last." Jewish Book World

"Mansbach’s excellent new novel explores the dynamics of the Jewish relationship with black culture. The End of the Jews provides a complex, thoughtful, and compelling look at the artistic side of a relationship that has long been conceived only in political terms." New Voices

The ruthlessly engrossing and beautifully rendered story of the Brodskys, a family of artists who realize, too late, one elemental truth: Creation's necessary consequence is destruction.

Each member of the mercurial clan in Adam Mansbach's bold new novel faces the impossible choice between the people they love and the art that sustains them. Tristan Brodsky, sprung from the asphalt of the depression-era Bronx, goes on to become one of the swaggering Jewish geniuses who remakes American culture while slowly suffocating his poet wife, who harbors secrets of her own. Nina Hricek, a driven young Czech photographer escapes from behind the Iron Curtain with a group of black musicians only to find herself trapped yet again, this time in a doomed love affair. And finally, Tris Freedman, grandson of Tristan and lover of Nina, a graffiti artist and unanchored revolutionary, cannibalizes his family history to feed his muse. In the end, their stories converge and the survival of each requires the sacrifice of another.

The End of the Jews offers all the rewards of the traditional family epic, but Mansbach's irreverent wit and rich, kinetic prose shed new light on the genre. It runs on its own chronometer, somersaulting gracefully through time and space, interweaving the tales of these three protagonists who, separated by generation and geography, are leading parallel lives.


Adam Mansbach  books  events  bio  music  interviews  other writing