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Shlepping the Exile

3.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  24 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Svelte and supple as unleavened bread, Shlepping the Exile rends the shmaltz from Jewish fiction and replaces it with a pound of real flesh.

It's the story of Yoine Levkes, a hassidic boy of the Canadian prairies, his refugee parents, and the Jewish community of Coalbanks, Alberta in the late 1950s. Confronted with dying people, an ailing culture, the perils of near-orphanh
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 18th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1993)
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Hasidism & Orthodox Judaism
79th out of 100 books — 20 voters
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Jewish Fiction And Literature
286th out of 388 books — 40 voters

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Community Reviews

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Mar 17, 2014 Stuart added it
This book has, to my mind, been misunderstood by its readers and I think I know why. It's all because of that damn musical Fiddler on the Roof. For 50 years, Fiddler on the Roof has worked to create an image of shtetl life in the Jewish Pale that has hardly any relationship to reality. Don't get me wrong. I find many of the songs in that musical charming. But those dancing, smiling, softies who would live in peace and harmony if it weren't for those damn Cossacks and the Tsar and who make only p ...more
Apr 05, 2014 Ruth rated it it was amazing
I found this book tremendously clever, even sometimes stylistically edgy. It seems to be a roman a clef. For one thing, Michael Wex's author bio says that he's from a small town in Alberta, just like the main character here. Also, I recognized the section at the end of the book that Wex clearly cannibalized from the liner notes he wrote for the Klezmatics' album Possessed. (Which I loved when I read them.) This novel's protagonist, Yoine, had better be based on Wex, because otherwise he's too pr ...more
Dec 28, 2013 Sara rated it liked it
I received an ARC from Goodreads and was excited to read the book since I had read a couple of the authors other books. As the synopsis states, this is the story of a hassidic teen-aged Jewish boy, born to Polish Refugees, and living in rural Alberta, Canada. The story introduces us to a range of diverse characters, from the refugee Jews in the Community, to the Christians they interact with in the school and greater community. And it relates how Yoine, the main character, and others, deal with ...more
Jan 05, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
What a great book! A hilarious and entertaining account of coming of age as a Jewish-Canadian immigrant in the prairies. It's quite a bizarre combination of yiddish and prairie Canada culture, and the writing style is irreverent and witty. There are so many stories of Jewish families in the US that I really appreciated this take on the subject in a Canadian context. This young kid faces all the bewildering trials of adolescence through the lens of a recent immigrant and brings the reader to laug ...more
Feb 06, 2015 Lana. rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
I too received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

It took a long time for me to get through this book -- stopping and starting again days at a time.

There were certainly interesting elements to this coming of age story (I had no concept of what Jewish life would be like in the Prairies in the mid-1950s). The larger than life characters and general teenage awkwardness were funny. The growing up as an outsider, pushing against expectations were relatable.

But, still had trouble getting into it. Oth
Jul 06, 2014 Janice rated it did not like it
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway.

When I receive a free book, I feel obligated to read the entire book. However, I tried twice to read this one, getting to page 25 the first time and page 50 the second time and could not force myself to read any further. It was so distracting to be constantly looking up words in the glossary (and not all of the Yiddish words in the text were in the glossary) that I couldn't enjoy the story. Presumably, if I knew Yiddish, I might have had a different e
Jul 01, 2014 Rachel rated it did not like it
I feel badly giving just one star because I think it's more about my fit than the quality of the book. Although I'm Jewish, my knowledge of Yiddish is clearly too amateur to comprehend this story line. I think a book should be discernible for more than a small niche of people for it to be good though. If you grew up with your bubbe and zaidie squeezing your punum and (fill in the blank with a Yiddish phrase) you'll probably enjoy this more than me.
Nov 15, 2014 Lorraine rated it liked it
A humorous look at life! Superbly written from a youth's viewpoint! The author was able to propel me back in time and view the era and struggles that many immigrant families contended with! I felt as though I was reliving my youth and all of the silly things that appeared so huge! Thank you First Reads for the gift of another inspiring story to add to my library!
Dec 28, 2013 Sheldon rated it liked it
Completely irreverent,nice use of Yiddish- Not for shy.

Note- full disclosure- the book was given to free by the publisher -from
May 05, 2012 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful and witty story. Just plain (pun intended) fun.
Mar 15, 2013 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wanders too much. Boring. Couldn't finish.
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Michael Wex is a novelist, professor, translator (including the only Yiddish translation of The Threepenny Opera ), and performer (of stand-up and one person shows). He has been hailed as a Yiddish national treasure and is one of the leading lights in the current revival of Yiddish, lecturing widely on Yiddish and Jewish culture. He lives in Toronto.
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