For the Relief of Unbearable Urges
By Nathan Englander
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375704437, 224pp.)
Publication Date: March 21, 2000
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One of the most stunning literary debuts of our time, these energized, irreverent, and deliciously inventive stories introduce an astonishing new talent.
In the collection's hilarious title story, a Hasidic man gets a special dispensation from his rabbi to see a prostitute. "The Wig" takes an aging wigmaker and makes her, for a single moment, beautiful. In "The Tumblers," Englander envisions a group of Polish Jews herded toward a train bound for the death camps and, in a deft, imaginative twist, turns them into acrobats tumbling out of harm's way.
For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is a work of startling authority and imagination--a book that is as wondrous and joyful as it is wrenchingly sad. It hearalds the arrival of a remarkable new storyteller.
Nathan Englander’s short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and numerous anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Englander’s story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York City.
"Englander's voice is distinctly his own--daring, funny and exuberant." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times"Taut, edgy, sharply observed. . . . A revelation of the human condition." --The New York Times Book Review"Remarkable art. . . .The author fills each of these pieces with vivid life, with characters that jump off the page." --Newsday"Every so often there's a new voice that entirely revitalizes the story. . . . It's happening again with Nathan Englander, whose precise, funny, heartbreaking, well-controlled but never contrived stories open a window on a fascinating landscape we might never have known was there. It's the best story collection I've read in ages." --Ann Beattie"His characters are marvelously sympathetic creations. . . . What is most striking about the collection is not the subject matter but Englander's genius for telling a tale. . . . Invite[s] comparison to some of the best storytellers--Gogol, Singer, Kafka and even John Cheever." --Time Out New York