The Ministry of Special Cases
By Nathan Englander
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375704444, 352pp.)
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
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From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, Nathan Englander's debut novel The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina's Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won't accept him; strives for a wife who forever saves him; and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence. When the nightmare of the disappeared children brings the Poznan family to its knees, they are thrust into the unyielding corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases, a terrifying, byzantine refuge of last resort. Through the devastation of a single family, Englander brilliantly captures the grief of a nation.
Nathan Englander was born in New York in 1970. His short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and numerous anthologies including The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Anthology, and The Pushcart Prize. Englander's story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges (Knopf, 1999), earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kauffman Prize. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2003 and a Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library in 2004. He lives in Manhattan.
“Who is this Nathan Englander, so young in novelist years, but already possessed of an old masters voice?... One reads this novel in awe of Englander's talent. —The New York Times Book Review“A mesmerizing rumination on loss and memory.” —Los Angeles Times“[A] tour-de-force…. A few pages into The Ministry of Special Cases, it becomes clear how much [Englander] has to bring to the topic: pitch-black humor, a skeptical affection for his characters, and the narrative ability to trace the impact of fascism-with-a-modern-face on a cluster of lives.” —The Seattle Times