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A Friend of Kafka

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  225 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
This book of twenty stories is Isaac Bashevis Singer's fifth collection and contains such classics as "The Cafeteria" and "On the Way to the Poorhouse."
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 1979 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1970)
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Neva
Jun 15, 2016 Neva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ИНТЕРВЮИРАЩ
Според вас, има ли нещо, което ще спаси човечеството?
СИНГЕР
Нищо няма да ни спаси. Ще постигнем огромен напредък, но страданията ни ще продължат и няма да имат край. Винаги ще измисляме нови източници на мъка. Идеята, че човек ще бъде спасен, е изцяло религиозна, а дори религиозните водачи никога не твърдят, че ще бъдем спасени на този свят. Те вярват, че душата ще бъде спасена в някакво отвъдно, че ако се държим добре, все още има надежда тя да иде в рая. Идеята за създаване на рай ту
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Daavid
21 stories: Average rating of 4.29.

Some truly interesting stories in here, based on people known by the author himself. Mostly based in the pre-WWII & pre-Holocaust era in Poland, while few in America, and one in Israel and Buenos Aires each.

Stories of life, people, the world, life's magic, fate, religiousness, couples, love, run-away husbands and wives, Hasids, intelligence, obsessions, salvations, demons, the supernatural, absurdity, personal discoveries, .. et cetera, etc.

Unfailing entert
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Mark Klempner
Jun 21, 2013 Mark Klempner rated it it was amazing
Now that I've read all the I.S.B. short story collections, I can tell you that this one contains the most outlandish stories. I don't think there is a single relationship described in these stories that comes anywhere close to being normal. Strange and uncanny things are always happening. The stories are often quite dark as well, describing tragic situations and bizarre bad luck. At the same time, they are beautifully written and Singer is in full control of his literary powers. A fascinating ...more
Vinothraj J
Oct 05, 2016 Vinothraj J rated it it was amazing
A lovely collection by this Nobel Prize-winning author. I'd rate every story either a 4 or a 5.

Every story has a blend of history, religion (how priests and people deal with it), and reminiscences of snapshots of life, sometimes appearing so unbelievable, that they could actually be true.

A common theme also involves growing older, and looking back on the past.
This man truly had a way with words, transporting the reader from hovels in Polish villages, to cafes in New York.

All-in-all, a must read
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Frank
Jun 17, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it
I'm not sure how Singer manages to be so blunt and direct and yet leave you with a feeling that you've learned the subtlest of lessons...
Jenny Yates
Jun 04, 2016 Jenny Yates rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book of short stories enormously. It has an “Arabian Nights” quality, in that many of the stories contain other stories. For example, “Stories from Behind the Stove” sets the scene in a study house in Poland, on a blustery winter night, with the men telling stories of strange things – the works of gods and devils – that they’ve witnessed. “Guests on a Winter Night” has a similar structure, with people full of stories coming in from the cold.

The stories are set in three different
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Michael
Feb 27, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing
Storytelling of the best kind:
- usually gripping, real stories with stuff happening to people and people doing things (not so obvious in our day and age);
- told from an interesting, subjective point of view with entertaining versatility (each narrator is created within an impressive collection of adults and children of both genders and all walks of life, each carefully thought out);
- gives access to the "world rules" of the locales described (what one is allowed or expected to do or say, how peo
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Rita
I was glad to read these stories. Some are set in Poland [long before the war, of course] and at least some of the place names meant more to me now, after having traveled in Poland.

Most of the stories [written 1962-1972] simply provoke wonderment. But the narrator of "The Son" I felt I could identify with somewhat. I liked these self-reflections:

"Then there occurred the same thing that always occurs when I am part of a crowd. Everyone became one family, while I remained an outsider. Nobody spoke
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Lee
Jul 06, 2008 Lee rated it really liked it
It seems like the first ten stories were published in the New Yorker and all these were pretty awesome, especially the title story and "The Cafeteria," but then the later ones not originally in the New Yorker were way less accessible/interesting for me in that they were more deeply dealing with finer points of Jewish tradition or culture. Every story feels absolutely real and lived and steady and wise and insightful and human and all those good adjectives. Straight-up readable language without ...more
March
Jan 05, 2009 March rated it really liked it
I am reading a collection of Singer's short stories called "A Friend of Kafka and Other Stories." Most of them have appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, Playboy, etc. Very pleasant to read and illuminating. I read a story before going to bed and it gives me this warm, cozy feeling before falling asleep. In this book I think I found the literary character that is most like me. It's the protagonist of The Blasphemer.
Cheryl
Nov 05, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very much liked 'The Son' and ended up liking 'The Key;' otherwise my appreciation for this collection is limited to the cultural understanding of a time & place, which did not require the entire collection. Read this for my library's discussion group and wish there was more redeeming quality to the other works. I admit overlooking the ongoing dichotomy between the supernatural & material worlds (as this site's description depicts) -- probably simply took this for granted.
Zach
Apr 17, 2010 Zach rated it really liked it
I switched to the edition with the illustration of the eye-glass and hat with tie and facial hair. I found the stories really made a connection to things that happen. I even felt an interest grow in the tone of the slick narrator's who all seem to have a philosophy and unique way of seeing things. I wanted to read this book to get to know a modern writer. That's what I did. I can set the date exactly, not that I haven't for all the other books I've read, but just most.
Bat713
Nov 16, 2015 Bat713 rated it really liked it
Wonderful writer. I especially liked the short stories " the Riddle" and "Pigeons". There are shades of Nazis to come in Poland. Also the New York Jewish Community. This author won the Nobel Prize for Writing in 1978.
Jeremy
Jul 07, 2016 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
brilliant. The past may be a different place but reading these stories transports you directly there.
Kristen Page
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Sam K G
Jul 31, 2008 Sam K G rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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Isaac Bashevis Singer was a Polish American author of Jewish descent, noted for his short stories. He was one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978.
His memoir, "A Day Of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw", won the U.S. National Book Award in Children's Literature in 1970, while his collection "A Crown of Feathers
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