By Joshua Cohen
(Dalkey Archive Press, Paperback, 9781564785886, 817pp.)
Publication Date: May 2010
List Price: $18.95*
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On Christmas Eve 1999, all the Jews in the world die in a strange, millennial plague, with the exception of the firstborn males, who are soon adopted by a cabal of powerful people in the American government. By the following Passover, however, only one is still alive: Benjamin Israelien; a kindly, innocent, ignorant man-child. As he finds himself transformed into an international superstar, Jewishness becomes all the rage: matzo-ball soup is in every bowl, sidelocks are hip; and the only truly Jewish Jew left is increasingly stigmatized for not being religious. Since his very existence exposes the illegitimacy of the newly converted, Israelien becomes the object of a worldwide hunt...
Meanwhile, in the not-too-distant future of our own, "real" world, another last Jew--the last living Holocaust survivor--sits alone in a snowbound Manhattan, providing a final melancholy witness to his experiences in the form of the punch lines to half-remembered jokes.