By Shalom Auslander
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488382, 304pp.)
Publication Date: January 12, 2012
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A New York Times Notable Book 2012
The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there.
To begin again. To start anew. But it isn’t quite working out that way for Kugel
His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won’t stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one Kugel bought, and when, one night, he discovers historya living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of historyhiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.
Hope: A Tragedy is a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.
Shalom Auslander was raised in Monsey, New York. Nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, he has published articles in Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, Tablet, The New Yorker, and has had stories aired on NPR's This American Life. Auslander is the author of the short story collection Beware of God and the memoir Foreskin's Lament. He lives in New York City. To learn more about Shalom Auslander, please visit www.shalomauslander.com.
A new novel from Shalom Auslander includes among its characters, Anne Frank. In Hope: A Tragedy, she survived the Holocaust and is discovered hiding in the attic of a house in rural New York state being rented by the book's main character. Alan Cheuse, a writing teacher at George Mason University, has a review. More at NPR.org
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"A virtuoso humorist, and a brave one: beware Shalom Auslander; he will make you laugh until your heart breaks.” – New York Times Book Review
“A caustic comic tour de force.” – NPR
“Poisonously funny…. Like an unintentional bark of laughter at a funeral.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Staggeringly nervy… Other fiction writers have gotten this fresh with Anne Frank. But they don’t get much funnier… [Auslander] is an absurdist with a deep sense of gravitas… It’s a tall order for Mr. Auslander to raise an essentially comic novel to this level of moral contemplation. Yet Hope: A Tragedy succeeds shockingly well.” – New York Times
“Shalom Auslander writes like some contemporary comedic Jeremiah, thundering warnings of disaster and retribution. What makes him so terrifyingly funny is that he isn’t joking.” — Howard Jacobson, author of The Finkler Question and winner of the Man Booker Prize
“A wonderful, twisted, transgressive, heartbreaking, true, and hugely funny book. It will make very many people very angry. It will also make very many people very happy.” — A. L. Kennedy, author of Day
“Can the darkest events of the twentieth century and of all human history be used to show the folly of hope? And can the result be so funny that you burst out laughing again and again? If you doubt this is possible, read Hope: A Tragedy. You won’t regret it.” — John Gray, author of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals