The Jewish Messiah : A Novel
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The Jewish Messiah : A Novel

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  541 ratings  ·  44 reviews
One of the great provocateurs of world literature has written perhaps his most outrageous and morally necessary novel: the story of a confused young man from a family with a Nazi past who decides he will devote his life to redeeming the suffering of the Jews in his own unorthodox way. What is it to the sixteen-year-old Swiss youth Xavier Radek that his grandfather served i...more
Hardcover, 470 pages
Published January 10th 2008 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2004)
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I thought I had been branching out after joining this site but I had really just played it close to home by going for pseudo-science over science fiction, pop bestselling fiction over epic fantasty, revisiting young adult fiction (although there are some new gems in that category, NOT Twilight), pop bestselling survival memoirs, miscellaneous library shelf culls...completely avoiding the huge huge huge universe of Literature. Like most American schoolchildren, I was forcefed a few of the acknowl...more
Aaron Grunberg is a courageous writer, and The Jewish Messiah is a testament to his bravery. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered an author so ready both to challenge and antagonize readers.

The Jewish Messiah starts in farce-mode. Xavier Radek decides he wants to “comfort the Jews” and immerses himself into the Zionist culture, much to the annoyance of his hyperborean mother. He befriends (well, more than befriends) Awromele, the son of an “autistic” (at least to his long-suffering wife) rab...more
Aug 10, 2009 Weinz rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Weinz by: David and Jon
I was recently sent a link to the "Stuff White People Like" blog. I started scanning the list with shock and horror. Marathons, Organic food, no TV, Tea, Yoga, Sushi, Public Radio, Grammar, CHRIST ON A JET SKI!!! I'M WHITE!!! and then in subsequent bookster threads regarding "hip or not hip" and avoidance of the hip I came to the shocking realization that not only am I whiter than white but I'm also not as original as I had thought. Wait, does this mean I have to get a moped and start wearing sk...more
Mar 02, 2012 oriana rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to oriana by: David
Shelves: read-2008
(P.S. If you don't want to read my long and rambling review, you can read someone else's long and rambling [and much more coherent and specific] review here )

after: The blurb on this site calls The Jewish Messiah a "grotesque farce," which is pretty apt. With a strong emphasis on grotesque. I have never read a book with so much blood, so much insanity, so much sex, so much death and agony.

Honestly? This book really upset me at times. That's tough for me—a girl who believes she's so jaded, so o...more
Feb 27, 2010 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
I'm thinking that this novel is an empty broken-taboo-strewn phantasmagoria of violent and sexual tableaux sprinkled into which we find much Kurt Vonnegut (the flat so-it-goes tone) and more than a smidgeon of Donald Barthelme (the idea of Christ returning as a testicle in a jar) and that whilst fun's fun, taking a few modishly grim aspects of modern life (paedophilia, computer games, sex slaves, self harming, falafel) and thinking up about a dozen catchphrases (e.g. loneliness is nothing to be...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
This book is not for the squeamish, and sadly, I am one of them. I had some very grim moments while reading this book. Think Coen Brothers level of violence, presented with a "well, what can you do about it" tone. Because, there is no meaning, only pain, in life. At least, as it's portrayed here.

The story follows a Swiss teenager named Xavier Radek, who, to honor his Nazi grandfather's legacy, decides to make his life work comforting the Jews. All around him is misery, people doing terrible thi...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
*bad word alert*

I really don't know how to rate this book. I just finished it and I'm sitting here thinking (probably waaaaayyyyy too hard) about it.
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. I like it. I hate it. I just don't know.

*last chance to avoid naughty words!!!*

Never ever have I read a book with such complex, fucked up characters. Yes, I dropped the F bomb, you know why? Because they really were fucked up. Calling them screwed up, messed up, fascinating, or unique does not even begi...more
Follow this link - - and you'll get the official summary. Go on, read it. I'll wait.

There. That's it: you've just read the book, essentially. The official publisher's summary tells the story from beginning to end, and the book simply fleshes it out. I know this sounds negative, but I mean don't mean it that way. The summary is honest and tells you exactly what you're getting into, from plot point A to plot point Z.

So now that you've "read" the story, let...more
There was a certain joy in completing this one, perhaps it was the sublime day outdoors, but I was elated to end this contrived rasher of shocking images. The novel shouldn't be considered a meditation, as such, instead, it was an excercise in excess. I didn't flinch, but I was annoyed.
Shiva Seven
i felt like i was kicked in the chest with steel toe boots by a gay skinhead in a pink prom dress! fucked up read, but i just could not put it down!
Overbearing sarcastic tone. None of the characters, not a single one, is really sympathetic, yet it is somehow an interesting read.
Mikael Kuoppala
This one falls into the frustratingly incomprehensible, yet compelling -category. Weird oddness. Odd weirdness. That sort of stuff.

I really can't claim to know what this story aimed at, but I know that it's been written really well. Grunberg crafts a tale of a man with an arguably twisted and unlikely way of perceiving the world in a way that floats above the realistic, somewhat Terry Gilliam style. I guess that "The Jewish Messiah" is in short a daringly raw and psychologically interesting sati...more
JJ Marsh
Growing up in Basel, Xavier Radek feels a calling. He needs a passion, he needs to commit to a cause, he wants to fight against the enemies of happiness. Like his grandfather, who served in the SS, who did not desert his post in the face of the danger, dying a hero’s death in Russian gunfire.
Xavier feels bad for the Jews and their suffering, so undertakes to comfort them. He decides to convert to Judaism, learn Yiddish and get circumcised. Awromele, the local rabbi’s son agrees to help him. The...more
Jay Daze

"It's a fascinating book. It's got pace, it's got momentum, it's full of humor, and I think the writer has a story to tell. We've struck gold."

This is as good a review as I can give right now. That the above is one of the two main characters talking about Mein Kampf, which they are translating into Yiddish, gives you an idea of the tone. Biting satire, but satire kept in a disturbingly real, grounded reality. (Well grounded for the majority of the book. Grunberg slowly wound his characters up an...more
TJM is a raucous exploration of neurotic Zionism, neurotic philanthropy, neurotic politics and neurotic love, and it attempts to chart these universals as neurotically as humanly possible. It is too lengthy, repetitious, and also slightly infantile in its description of some of the more disgusting quirks I have had the opportunity to read. There is a circumcision gone awry (it actually induced in me real, physical pain), a woman who performs sexualized acts with a kitchen knife, beatings and ora...more
Triskele Books
translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett)

Growing up in Basel, Xavier Radek feels a calling. He needs a passion, he needs to commit to a cause, he wants to fight against the enemies of happiness. Like his grandfather, who served in the SS, who did not desert his post in the face of the danger, dying a hero’s death in Russian gunfire.
Xavier feels bad for the Jews and their suffering, so undertakes to comfort them. He decides to convert to Judaism, learn Yiddish and get circumcised. Awromele, the loca...more
Glenn Russell
Welcome to the world of Xavier Radek, a high school teenager and grandson of a late Nazi SS officer living in Basel, Switzerland with a highly developed aesthetic sense and noble ambitions, his highest and most noble ambition being to take on the role of comforter of the Jewish people. Arnon Grunberg tells Xavier's story in easy-to-understand language (a fine translation by Sam Garrett) that is at times lyrical and richly poetic. Here are several quotes taken from the first fifty pages where we...more
Sep 02, 2012 Bill rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I should have judged this book by its cover: I hated the picture, and after reading the inside jacket, I thought to myself that it was probably going to be an extremely odd book. I was right. Every character is severely dysfunctional. I felt depressed each time I put the book down. I imagined the plot as oil spill of psychosis. The spill originated from the central character, Xavier, and spread out in odd and uneven ways across countries and continents, covering new and interconnected characters...more
Jake DeBacher
The first 100 pages of this were some of the best I've read in recent memory. They were riotously funny, poignant, surprising, crazy smart, and everything else that good literature should be. But after that, it just sort of... drops off. No more direction, no more humor, just... horrible, horrible pain. It's really a bummer. Still definitely worth a read, though, if only for that killer start.
very nice book by one of Holland's contemporary top authors. It's about a teenager whose grandfather was a SS camp guard who wants to understand suffering and therefore decides to comfort the enemies of happiness: the Jews.

The first 250 pages or so are hilariously funny (the scene in the sauna where his parents are exposing the dubious past of his grandfather, him deciding to translate Mein Kampf into Jiddish, him getting circumcised at age 17 by a half blind old amateur cheese selling Jew and s...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Extremely bizarre, blackest of dark comedies and written by a Dutchman. The story of a young Swiss man whose grandfather was an especially diligent and active SS member has an epiphany that he shall become "the comforter of the Jews." The idea alone is bizarre enough by itself but also take into account that he and his family do not think killing the jews in WWII was really that bad and that his idea of comforting begins with befriending a Rabi's son who eventually becomes his gay lover with a w...more
Michael Flick
Savage satire: no ox ungored, no ax unground, erasing all the boundaries between Judaism and fascism. Disturbing, much like speeding down the freeway, suddenly traffic slows to a crawl and everyone gawks at the accident on the side of the road. This isn't Grunberg at his best, when he magically pulls you into character, time and place--for that, read "The Story of My Baldness" or "Blue Mondays." Here there's a kind of bitterness that leaves a bad taste in your mouth--at least figuratively if not...more
Margrit Belfi
Een paar leuke zinnen
Voor mij hoeft dit niet
Ik geef bewust geen waardering voor het boek.
Het boek kent geweldige stukken waar je verder wilt en moet lezen zonder het weg te leggen (fijn ook als je laat op de avond denkt: laat ik nog even een stukje lezen).
Het boek kent ook mindere stukken, waar het eerder als een verplichting voelt om door te zetten.

Wat ik over het verhaal moet zeggen weet ik niet. Aan de ene kant vind ik het heel goed verzonnen, aan de andere kant heb ik er ook zo mijn twijfels over.

"Ik weet niet wat ik er van vind" is o...more
I moved this to postponed but I doubt that I will ever go back to it. At first I tried to go with it's scatological, macabre farce; it was okay, didn't love it. But the further I got (and according to my Kindle I only got one-third in) the more disgusted I became. I truly see no redeeming qualities in this novel. It's a shame- I was hoping to discover a good Dutch author whose works I could dig into. Helaas, this was not the case. I may try another Grunberg but I won't hold out much hope.
Robert Wechsler
May 16, 2013 Robert Wechsler marked it as unfinished
Shelves: othereuro-lit
This novel comes across, at first, as a brilliant work about the grandson of a Nazi who decides he wants to learn about suffering by doing something that has to do with Jews, who know a lot about suffering. It’s clever, matter-of-fact, and manages to be fresh. It becomes apparent that Grunberg wants us to feel the pain of everything that has been handed down to us from the Holocaust. But there’s pain and then there’s pain. I found this pain painfully dull and stopped at p. 128.
The author nipped it in the bud. So to speak. This is one of the more strange and disturbing books you might read, without being outright fantasy. Alternate history, yes. Weird and bizarre, definitely. A protagonist that ranges from gentle to harsh, from left to right and then right off the map. A supporting cast of characters that support the strange world he occupies and alters.
I was going to give this book a 5 but around page 300 the book becomes a surreal hayride through the strangest people's lives. I really liked this book up until this point. Not sure what happened but the book becomes a more personal rant with little point. Bizarre! But I'm pretty sure Xavier is Adolf Hitler.
Jul 12, 2009 Amy added it
Reading this right now - the English version (The Jewish Messiah). Not sure why it's not listed on Goodreads in English. Anyhoo, it's interesting and weird in a John Irving kind of way. Suffice it to say that it's about a kid (grandson of a Nazi) who is focused on translating Mein Kampf into Yiddish...
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  • De Koning
  • De overgave
  • Een vlucht regenwulpen
  • Meneer Beerta (Het Bureau 1)
  • De gelukkige klas
  • Ik omhels je met duizend armen
  • De donkere kamer van Damokles
  • Gelukkige slaven
  • Caesarion
  • I Jan Cremer
  • Camera Obscura
  • Lijmen / Het Been
  • De avonden
  • Het verdriet van België
  • Het schervengericht (Homo duplex)
  • Karakter
  • La Superba
Arnon Yasha Yves (Arnon) Grunberg is a Dutch writer. Some of his books were written using the heteronym Marek van der Jagt.

In 1989 Grunberg made his acting debut in Maria's Cunt (de Kut van Maria); a short film by Dutch enfant terrible filmmaker Cyrus Frisch.

Grunberg made his literary debut in 1994 with the novel Blauwe maandagen (Blue Mondays), which won the Dutch prize for the best debut novel t...more
More about Arnon Grunberg...
Tirza Blauwe Maandagen De Asielzoeker De man zonder ziekte Huid en Haar

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