Hope: A Tragedy
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Hope: A Tragedy

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  2,883 ratings  ·  633 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published January 12th 2012 by Riverhead Books (first published 2012)
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40th out of 100 books — 440 voters
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Macabre mixed with Humor
5th out of 21 books — 15 voters


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David
The title of Hope: A Tragedy alludes to the philosophy of a radically cynical character in the novel named Professor Jove. In lieu of malice and misfortune, Jove blames human misery simply on hope: despite continual evidence to the contrary, humans still foolishly hope for the best and believe a good, reasonably happy life is somehow attainable. In this theory of hope, Hitler becomes an optimist. Although his methods strike us as cruel and—yes—certainly draconian, he believed a better life was i...more
Elizabeth
Apr 17, 2012 Elizabeth rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No one
This book annoyed me to death. I hated the characters. I gave the book one star, and the reason I did so was that I don’t have a lot of patience for characters like Kugel and his mother. He was too Woody Allen-like for me. I hate Woody Allen movies for the same reason: stop being so introspective and neurotic and start acting like a grownup. That’s what I want to scream at the characters.

Also, the entire premise that he couldn’t kick Anne Frank out because it would look bad on him was ridiculou...more
Stuart
Winter 2012 is a big season for fans of Jewish fiction by young authors. Nathan Englander has a new book of stories and Ben Marcus has a new novel. Both authors know how to write well and carefully. Perhaps they are this generation's Malamud and Bellow. But who is this generation's Roth, acerbic and antagonistic to society, especially to Jewish society? It isn't Auslander. To put it plainly, Shalom Auslander is an essayist, not a novelist. To be more kind, perhaps Auslander will develop the abil...more
K
Whatever you want to say about Auslander as a Jew, he is a talented writer. As a novelist, though, he leaves a lot to be desired.

Assuming you can tolerate Holocaust irreverence, the concept behind this book was actually clever. A Woody Allen-esque neurotic Jew (Solomon Kugel) moves his wife, child, and mother to a farmhouse in the country only to discover a decrepit Anne Frank living in his attic. There's a lot here. The age-old literary trope of discovering a crazy lady living in your attic and...more
Kim

I’ve been called a Pollyannna. Seriously. I know, right? Funny. Granted, Pollyanna is from Vermont… and she does tend to look at the bright side of life…and I do agree with the statement ‘Just breathing isn’t living!’ but, I draw the line at believing in stupid ‘glad’ games. And this song is really irritating and doesn't at all describe me. I much prefer this version… and it’s not like I ALWAYS find the good in things… I mean, there is absolutely nothing good about that song ‘I’ve got the moves...more
M
3.5, at times.
Despite your personal feelings toward Auslander's outrageousness, I don't think anyone can deny that he has talent. And while this talent shines through in his first novel, it also wears thin, because there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Auslander writes this book as a cross between Philip Roth and Dave Barry, by which I mean you have a dead on, clearly 'been there done that' and resented it depiction of whiny wanna be Holocaust people - ie, ones who capitalize...more
Jessica
Whether or not you'll like Auslander's debut novel depends on how much you cling to the totemic narratives of history. If you're not afraid to wrestle down those figures and interrogate the validity of their martyr status, then you'll relish this supremely dark and twisty comedy of faith and modern life. If you bristle at reconsidering why you worship the surviving narratives of history's darkest time, then you won't like it at all. Ultimately it's a novel that will speak to the most revisionist...more
Allan
Having read and enjoyed Auslander's memoir, 'Foreskin's Lament', I'd thought about buying this novel quite a few times before finding it in a second hand shop. The fact that a novel is classed as 'funny' several times often has me worried as to how I'll like it, and to be honest, I wish I hadn't bothered reading this book.

Set in NY State, the novel concentrates on Solomon Kugel, a neurotic, pessimistic character, almost playing to what in the past may have been considered a stereotypical Jewish...more
Hannah
Shalom Auslander's first full-length novel takes a slight detour from his usual angst about Orthodoxy (see Foreskin's Lament and Beware of God: Stories) to poke fun at gluten intolerance, muse about epitaphs and take Anne Frank off her historical pedestal by finding her alive and well (and old and curmudgeonly) in the attic of a bucolic farmhouse recently bought by a neurotic Jewish guy. What's not to like?

After a day of reflection, though, I think what's holding me back from a higher review is...more
Ryan
A recent Facebook post of mine had read "I can't wait until they release a 3D IMAX version of 'Schindler's List'". Someone with whom I have a tenuous Facebook relationship declared that I "was in poor taste." I can't help but think how he would have felt about Auslander's novel.

Personally, I found this novel saturated with biting sarcasm, scathing bitterness, and caustic cynicism...and I loved every word. There is no question that Auslander can write. He's quick and vivid, but that's not why th...more
Judith
I found this book outrageously funny, but I am sure it's not everyone's cup of tea. The premise struck me as so ridiculous when I read about it that I still can't figure out why I decided to read it, but I am glad I did because it was laugh-out-loud funny despite the absurdity. Here it is: present day, a rural community in New York state where Solomon Kugel buys a beautiful old house in the country and moves in his family including his lovely wife, 3 year old son and cranky old mother. He discov...more
Razvan Zamfirescu
Solomon Kugel colecţionează ultime cuvinte rostite înainte de moarte, are o mamă care se consideră supravieţuitoare a Holocaustului, ceea ce şi este, chiar dacă a trăit pe un alt continent decât Europa, sechelată de nazişti, deşi nu a suferit niciodată persecuţie din parte lor pentru că a crescut în America, o casă care pute a pişat şi rahat şi pe o Anne Frank al naibii de bătrână care încearcă să scrie un roman care să depăşeaşcă bariera de vânzări a Jurnalului scris în tinereţe.
Ah, da şi este...more
Cheryl
What do we do with the complex, unresolved, emotionally laden, and guilt ridden emotions surrounding the most horrific event of the twentieth century? The Holocaust, simply expressed, is evil personified from the banal train schedules transporting women, men, and children to their deaths to the document from the minds of men for the final solution of a race.

There are non-fiction accounts steeped in cruelties unimaginable to modern man, biographies of selfless others who offered safety at great...more
Jason
Outrageously funny, so wildly original you forgive a certain amount of repetitiveness, a rude offspring of Philip Roth and Franz Kafka. The sort of book where you constantly want to put it down and call everyone you know to read them the passages you just read.

Solomon Kugel is a neurotic obsessed with death who recently moved with his family to a farmhouse in upstate New York. One night he hears noise coming from the attic, goes up to investigate, and discovers Anne Frank living up there. But no...more
Rebecca Foster
My top novel of 2012. In Auslander’s absurdist battle between optimism and pessimism, momentous tragedy and mundaneness, nothing is sacred – not the presidentially mandated virtue of hope; certainly not those Jewish “heroes” Anne Frank and Alan Dershowitz; not even the aesthetic guidelines for metaphorical language (“the sun was in the sky like a something. The breeze blew like a whatever”).

This debut novel is ferociously funny. It takes the sarcasm and blasphemy of Auslander’s memoir (Foreskin’...more
Rachelle Urist
Brilliant. Prophetic. Bold. Funny. Visionary. Dares to examine sacrosanct Jewish symbols in the wake of the Holocaust. Humanizes Anne Frank by imagining her alive today, stuck in an attic limbo in a world that wants her dead. Her death is what gave her book its appeal, thinks Solomon Kugel, who moves his family into a new house, far from the maddening crowd, and discovers that Anne Frank has been hiding in the attic for forty years. Before that, she hid in other people's attics. Attics are safe....more
Jamie
I certainly had no idea what to expect with the combination of largely vitriol with praise from one from our book group. So I've got to start with all that by saying I liked this quite a bit more than I thought I would. Here's why:

1. I like books with a strong life philosophy, and that is certainly this one.

2. I also LOVE smart people, foolish choices, and that is REALLY this one.

3. There is some great writing, Especially in the epilogue "Fiction will return, I promise you, especially when the...more
Allan
Darkly comic and wallowing in pessimism, Hope: A Tragedy, a first novel from Shalom Auslander, is heavy with guilt and light as air. It’s a brilliant read.[return][return]Solomon Kugel has brought his wife and young son to Stockton, a small uninspired town in upstate New York, to begin life afresh, make a new start and shake off whatever bad breaks dumped them here. Unfortunately he must bring along his old dying mother, a non-holocaust survivor who nevertheless has taken on all the guilt and an...more
Frieda Vizel
This book is an original, well written work that had me laughing out loud many times. I give Auslander 4 stars for creativity and witticism, but I give 2 for plot and other elements. After about 1/3 of the book the funny bits get recycled and the plot becomes very thin. A lot of his jokes turn up six times in the same book! Lines like: 'Live each day as something, go enjoy the whatever, stop to smell the what-have-you' that mock cliches are funny at first but after a few times feel very old and...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
quando il postmodernismo impatta con l'umorismo ebraico...


Auslander è ormai un personaggio con caratteristiche precise, il suo io narrante è un ebreo nevrotico, che si odia un po' e un altro po' si compatisce, ha molta paura, vive di sensi di colpa e sotto sotto teme tutto quel che lo circonda e teme anche che il suo Dio sia davvero la persona vendicativa e irosa del Vecchio Testamento
per cui prima di fare qualsiasi cosa deve pensarci bene, ponderare le possibili conseguenze e evitare ogni forma...more
Constantin
Ar fi riscant să spun că nu exista variantă mai bună pentru relansarea Colecției Globus a Editurii Univers. Cert este că alegerea lui Shalom Auslander, un nume de care nu știu câți auziseră la noi înainte de a fi propus de LuciaT, a fost excelentă.

"Speranța: o tragedie" mi-a plăcut pentru că este un roman vesel și trist în egală măsură și pentru că m-a provocat să văd viața din altă perspectivă. O familie de evrei se mută în casă nouă, iar în podul acelei case, bărbatul familiei, Solomon Kugel,...more
Gayle
Occasionally I run across a review or synopsis of a book, decide it sounds interesting, and put it on hold at the library. Sometimes it is weeks before the library contacts me to pick up the book, and by that time I’ve completely forgotten why I wanted to read it. I also tend to have 5 – 10 books on hold at once and often wait until I’ve been contacted about all before I go to pick them up. This is a great system for me because then the books are always a surprise!

This is what happened with this...more
Edmole
A magnificent, vicious comic novel about how we appropriate and luxuriate in guilt, in other people's tragedies, in holocausts not our own. A man buys a flat and hears noise from upstairs. It starts to drive him nuts. It turns out it's Anne Frank, doing what she does - surviving. The man spends the rest of the book trying to keep everyone happy, no one is, and trying to do right while everybody has a different idea of what right is.

This book reminded me of many people I have met who want to dra...more
Maicie
I’m reluctant to say how much this book made me laugh. It’s chock full of Jewish clichés and inpolitically correct remarks. If it wasn’t written by a Jewish author, I would have been appalled.
But it was (written by a Jewish author) and it is (appallingly hilarious).

Solomon Kugel was diagnosed by one therapist as suffering from anhedonia: the inability to feel pleasure. His mother falsely believes she is a Holocaust survivor. Elderly, crotchety Anne Frank is hiding out in his attic (yes, that Ann...more
Ciara
what would you do if you bought a house & discovered a week later that anne frank was alive & living in your attic, endeavoring to write a sequel to her diary? that is the premise of this novel. say it with me now, kids: wow, i have never heard of a more gimmicky plotline. complicating matters is the fact that our hapless protagonist is a jewish man raised by a mother who had fed him lie after lie after lie about all the relatives they had that perished in the holocaust. he knows that hi...more
Gary
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susanna
This is a weird, wacky book, but I totally loved it. I loved Auslander's writing, which is slightly cynical but often funny. I loved the characterizations, even though I'm pretty sure half the characters could be diagnosed with various forms of insanity. I loved the whole concept of the novel, which is basically examining the hold past events, even ones we never could have experienced, can have on our lives. I'm not Jewish and my German-American ancestry goes back way too far to be affected by t...more
Lisa
“So desperate was Kugel for things to turn out for the best, proclaimed Professor Jove, that he couldn’t stop worrying about the worst. Hope, said Professor Jove, was Solomon Kugel’s greatest failing."

From the opening pages of Shalom Auslander’s “Hope: A Tragedy” I knew I was reading something special. Consider the plot: a Jewish man who believes his pessimism is fueled by his optimism, buys a farmhouse in a no name town only to discover Anne Frank (yes, the Anne Frank) hiding in his attic. Whil...more
Jeffreyh.hammond
sebbene la lettura sia piacevole, il libro mi lascia abbastanza perplesso. se da un lato è chiaro il danno che può generarsi, non dal ricordare la storia, ma dal ricordare male, dall'altro ci sono dei punti (come il discorso finale di Eve ai nuovi acquirenti della casa vittoriana) dei quali è difficile cogliere una interpretazione. sempre che ce ne sia una.
la vicenda ruota intorno alla scoperta che nella soffitta di Kugel c'è una persona importante. nientemeno che Anne Frank, scampata ai campi d...more
Adam

Has Solomon Kugel* got problems? Sure, he has, and not ones that you would want to be lumbered with.

When he and his family move into a new home, he discovers that Anne Frank (yes, she of the diary), far from being dead, has survived the Holocaust and is living in his attic. What to do? Can he, a good Jew, evict her, a Holocaust survivor? Should he tell anyone that she's there? These are only a few of his problems already. And what happens when his mother, who lives in the house and fears the com...more
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Shalom Auslander is an American author and essayist. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Monsey, New York where he describes himself as having been "raised like a veal".[1][2] His writing style is notable for its Jewish perspective and determinedly negative outlook.

Auslander has published a collection of short stories, Beware of God and a memoir, Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir. His work,...more
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