How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)
By Michael Wex
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061771125, 240pp.)
Publication Date: September 2010
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There are people out there, millions of them, who act as if they still believe everything their mothers told them in the first six months of their lifethat theyre the nicest, most beautiful, and most promising and intelligent bags of flesh ever to walk the earth. We call these people shmucks.
In How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck), bestselling author Michael Wex offers a wise and witty guide to being a good human being, regardless of your religion or beliefs. Referencing pop culture, current events, and Jewish tradition with equal ease, Wex explores the strategies developed by an oppressed people to pursue happiness with their dignityand sense of humorintact.
Novelist, lecturer, and translator Michael Wex is one of the leading lights in the revival of Yiddish, and author of the New York Times bestseller Born to Kvetch and its follow-up, Just Say Nu.
“Funny...astute and relevant.”
-San Francisco Chronicle
“…blessed with humor, grace and a well-developed sense of contemporary pop culture (references range from Genesis to Groundhog Day) ... a consistent pleasure: entertaining, educational…with more than a few thought-provoking suggestions for achieving mentsh-hood (or at least avoiding shmuck-itude).”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The Sneaky Chef of contemporary Jewish culture…Wex writes books that look and read like snacks, but he hides scholarly vegetables between the covers…Wex has achieved on the bookshelf what Hillel advised that we all do in life: In a place where there are no mentshn, try to be a mentsh.”
“Just superb….The book is funny, too, and is certainly the finest explanation of the religious significance of The Apartment and Groundhog Day. Talmud, Torah, Jack Lemmon, Bill Murray--need I say more?”
-Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day: The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Across America
“[A]n often humorous and frequently provocative guide to being a good person, a mentsh....This book reflects extensive learning, serious thought, a sense of the absurd and the unfair, as well as an impish willingness to play the mazik (scamp).”
-Jewish Book World
“[S]uperb...brilliant...[O]ne of the leading lights in the Yiddish revival, Michael Wex distills the age-old principles that have been the nucleus of Jewish survival...into some relevant lessons, delightful anecdotes, and real-world applications for not just Judaism but all faiths.”
-Sacramento Book Review
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org