Shlepping the Exile
By Michael Wex
St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312364632, 216pp.
Publication Date: February 18, 2014
List Price: $24.99*
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Svelte and supple as unleavened bread, "Shlepping the Exile" rends the shmaltz from Jewish fiction and replaces it with a pound of real flesh.
It's the story of Yoine Levkes, a hassidic boy of the Canadian prairies, his refugee parents, and the Jewish community of Coalbanks, Alberta in the late 1950s. Confronted with dying people, an ailing culture, the perils of near-orphanhood and the allures of Sabina Mandelbroit, whose family doesn't keep the Sabbath, Yoine can no longer tell whether he's a human being or a loot-bag of conflicting traditions. He's too religious to be 'normal, ' too 'normal' not to realize this, and too much of a kid to be able to make any sense of it.
"Shlepping the Exile "is Michael Wex's inside portrait of orthodox, post-Holocaust Judaism in a place that it never expected to be.
"Yoine is smart—smarter, really, than a character of his age and demeanor has any right to be, but it’s his quick-witted running commentary that carries the novel . . .Wex [excels] at building incongruous characters who demonstrate the counterintuitive complexities of Jewish life. . . Wex's humorous writing is crisp." --Kirkus
"Shlepping the Exile is a funny, often poignant, presentation of Jewish life in a place with few Jews, and of a young boy navigating that place and time with eyes that are open much wider than his parents had ever imagined. Wex captures it all with wit and with great authenticity." –Ottawa Jewish Bulletin
"Partly old world, partly new, born to parents who have lost virtually everything, Yoine is an appealing creation." –Publishers Weekly