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Centaur in the Garden

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  600 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews

Named one of the 100 best Jewish works of the twentieth century by the National Yiddish Book Center, The Centaur in the Garden is reminiscent of the Chagall paintings in which scenes of everyday Jewish life are tenderly and oddly transmuted into fantasy. Set in southern Brazil, in one of the immigrant colonies established early in the twentieth century, it chronicles the s
Paperback, 216 pages
Published February 12th 1985 by Ballantine Books (Mm) (first published 1980)
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(showing 1-30)
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Magical fiction about a Jewish centaur. Set in Brazil, memoirs from Russia, and ironic humor from our centaur hero.

I was most impressed about how casually the author writes about such an absurd but cleverly allegorical situation. We get to trace the centaur's life from his shame filled childhood, to him joining the circus, and finally to him and his wife becoming a part of the banal Jewish Brazillian upper class. I was really enchanted by the identity issues of the centaur and enjoyed the irony
Jun 22, 2008 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this after reading life of pi, written by yann martel but criticized for being too much like moacyr scliar's book max and the cats. regardless of the comparison, the centaur in the garden is fantastic, especially if you've ever felt different, and haven't we all?
Jul 02, 2008 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darkly humorous or humorously dark? Either way, I was absorbed into this book right away and I kept thinking about it after I was done, which is usually the sign of a good book.
Sep 30, 2008 Christina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pretentious
An odd, odd book. Interesting, with multiple possible truths. I wonder if it would have been better in the original Portuguese.
Nov 16, 2008 Samira rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, judaism
I read this in about a day. It is good, though magical realism is not my favorite genre. Easy, enjoyable, interesting and unusual.
Nov 04, 2010 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julia by: Portuguese book club in NYC
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
For some unknown reason, I read this book in German. It was one of my first stabs at magical realism, and I probably would have gotten more out of it if I'd read it in English. I enjoyed it enough to recommend it to my Dad. Never heard what he thought of it.
Aug 11, 2011 Yanina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another just OK book, I think it got lost in translation. Very complicated story Written in the tradition of magic realism, is probably much better in its native Portuguese. I might give this book another try in a few years.
I've never read a book that talks about penis so much in all my life! This story is entertaining, although the last chapter kind of undercuts the whole thing. It's interesting because it makes you feel defensive about what you've read. The end reminded me of Life of Pi, although it's not the same.
Mar 08, 2011 Mady rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bc, portuguese, 2003
I've really enjoyed reading this fable that takes place in present days Brazil. It's about a man that was born as a "centaure" in a "normal" Brazilian family. After reading this book I am really interested in reading others from this imaginative writer whose name I wasn't even familiar with...
Jul 07, 2011 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book--inventive, unique, poignant. But most distinctive is the first-person narrative voice. Pulled me right in, always warm and believable, the political/social/religious themes lightly inserted into the narrative. Must read more by Scliar.

And very interested to learn of the controversy with Martel's LIfe of Pi! How do writers get their ideas? Well, sometimes from each other. But if they do, they damn well should give full and flowing credit as well!!
May 31, 2011 G rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like the author -- no, really, I think he's good. But the book itself is just a mix of gross TMI and craziness. Really not my type of book.
Jun 16, 2011 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
such a great premise, but nothing interesting happens. i wonder how long it will be until the trend of humanizing the supernatural, which was fun to begin with, will run its course
Feb 08, 2013 Heidi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story surprised me, which is to say I really enjoyed it. The modern day setting of a Centaur coming of age is almost comical, however, how he and the reader come to realize his identity is innocent and very touching.
Boris Feldman
Sep 19, 2011 Boris Feldman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Greatest Jewish writer in Brazil.
A Russian family emigrates to Brazil in the '20's to live on a farm. They give birth to a baby boy, who happens to be a centaur.
Martha Toll
This is a fascinating allegory by an author who is very well known in Brazil. He is of eastern European Jewish extraction, and combines Latin American magical realism with the shtetl culture of eastern Europe. The Centaur in the Garden covers everything, from Freud to Marx to the role of the outsider (Jew) in Latin American culture, to mythology. Should be required reading for every college literature student.
May 08, 2013 Elise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While reading "The Centaur in the Garden," I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at times. The story's conflicting emotional effect was unsettling but it's also, in part, what made this a brilliant and thought-provoking work. This tale of a Jewish boy born a centaur on his family's farm in Brazil was the archetypal story of the hero's journey a la Campbell's monomyth, but that in no way made it predictable. Quite the contrary, I was surprised every step of the way, never knowing what to expect n ...more
Apr 07, 2012 Kristian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a book! Impressed by Max And The Cats A Novel, I decided to read another, a little more substantial novel by this author. And this is really a great book - about a Jewish centaur and a centauress, yet realistic as few other books. I guess that's why they call it magical realism. Written from the Guedali's (the centaur's) perspective, this is a very touching book and one gets to go through his moods and emotions with him, but also turns angry towards some of the things he does. But in t ...more
Carolina de Goes
Jul 21, 2012 Carolina de Goes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Uma delícia ler Scliar enquanto descubro Porto Alegre.

Ótima história, personagens humanos (!) e bem desenvolvidos, situações fantásticas perfeitamente plausíveis. Foda.
I read this once years ago and loved it. I want to reread it.
Mar 19, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
We first heard of Moacyr Scliar when the NY Times published his obituary. I started with this book, and found it both a challenge and an inspiration.
At face value, it is a bizzare story. A baby is born to a couple, Jews living in South America. The baby is a centaur -- quite a challenge! Scliar is up to the challenge to the author to tell a story that is believable (given the premise) and meaningful.
So the hitch for me in the meaningful part. I'm sure this is a strange and beautiful parable! I h
Thy Ngân
May 02, 2014 Thy Ngân rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cuối cùng cũng có một cuốn sách, để mỗi lần tự kỉ đi tìm về một nơi cách xa sự kết nối, sẽ lấy ra đọc. :3
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Juanito Olcese
Sep 01, 2014 Juanito Olcese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to you, I was able to awaken my, at that moment, sleeping passion for reading. You've opened my eyes to the world of letters, fantasies and truths. Thank you Moacyr, you were my first love.
Dec 18, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: argentina
It's very rare for a book to get 5 stars from me. I'd heard of this author and this book and, getting ready to revisit Argentina, decided to read it. It's the story of a child born to a Russian, Jewish immigrant family; they are living in a rural farming community that was started (in reality) by Baron Hirsh to support Jews fleeing from pograms. However, for most of the immigrants the reality of farming (having come from totally urban lives) was beyond them and they left for the cities. Guedeli, ...more
Tuệ Trần
Jul 17, 2015 Tuệ Trần rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mình đọc Centaur in the Garden trong một thời điểm mà cuộc đời tưởng như không thể buồn chán hơn nữa.

Hóa ra nó còn có thể buồn chán hơn nữa.
Anh Dũng
Một chú nhân mã yêu đọc sách và yêu chạy bộ: Chỉ cần thế thui cũng đủ hấp dẫn mình rồi.
Chú nhân mã đó sinh ra trong một gia đình Do Thái, lớn lên trong sự chăm sóc yêu thương đặc biệt của gia đình. Cậu vẫn cảm thấy cô đơn. Cậu không giống như những người khác trong gia đình. Có ai ngờ rằng cậu cũng tìm thấy một cô nhân mã xinh đẹp. Mình nghĩ tới đây chắc là họ sống hạnh phúc tới cuối đời rồi. Không dừng ở đó, ngay sau đó, họ có quyết định táo bạo: phẫu thuật để có bề ngoài giống mọi người hơn. R
Jan 10, 2016 Zapatoo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guedalis Geburt geht einher mit Alpträumen vom überlebten Pogrom im heimatlichen Schtetl der Eltern, weitab von der brasilianischen Provinz und dem verbissenen Versuch eine landwirtschaftliche Existenz aufzubauen. Die Bilder der Reiterhorden schlagen sich im, die Mutter traumatisierenden, Körper Guedalis nieder: er wird als Zentaur geboren. Dieses Anders-sein lässt ihn abseits von Altersgenossen und nur im Kreise der Familie groß werden. Sein Weg in die Gesellschaft ist ein verdeckter; gemeinsam ...more
Ainda não sei o que eu achei. Estava tão imersa, o que é bom, né? Que achei o fim abrupto.
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Moacyr Jaime Scliar (born March 23, 1937) is a Brazilian writer and physician.
Scliar is best known outside Brazil for his 1981 novel Max and the Cats (Max e os Felinos), the story of a young man who flees Berlin after he comes to the attention of the Nazis for having had an affair with a married woman. Making his way to Brazil, his ship sinks, and he finds himself alone in a dinghy with a jaguar w
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“Primeiro casa para todos, diziam, depois comida para todos, depois transporte para todos, depois meios de produção para todos. Que as casas devessem ser construídas por empreiteiros privados não lhes importava muito; a verdade haveria de prevalecer no choque dialético entre o individual e o coletivo, entre o egoísmo e o altruísmo, entre o custo das casas e os preços cobrados pelos empreiteiros, entre a boa qualidade apregoada para a argamassa e as fendas que mais cedo ou mais tarde apareceriam nas paredes; fendas enormes, ramificadas em caprichosos desenhos (galhados de cervos, árvores de decisão ou mesmo letras como as que o plano incluía, de acordo com as ideias do socialista francês Louis Blanc, a criação, no setor público da economia, de verdadeiras oficinas sociais auto-administradas em moldes empresariais. O lucro dessas oficinas, em parte seria destinado à assistência médica e à previdência social, e em parte reinvestido. Operários investindo, aí estava a coisa: as armas do capitalismo usadas contra o próprio capitalismo!” 2 likes
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