The Ministry of Special Cases
From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerf...more
Upon rereading, I was struck by many of the scenes but underwhelmed by the lack of cohesion - the whole was less than the sum of its parts.
The setting is Buenos Aires in 1976. The main characters are Kaddish Poznan and his wife, Lillian. They are not only Jewish, but Kaddish is literally a hijo de puta (son of a whore) and his “...more
The protagonist is a pariah, neither at home in his community nor outside of it, and he is deeply troubled and morally defiant about it. A similar struggle marks the more inti...more
All in all a good read that turns great when the story finally picks up during...more
As the New Yorker observed in introducing its recent “20 under forty” series, “the fiction being written in this country today is not necessarily fiction set in this country.” A prime example of such fiction is The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander. To my mind it is among the best of American contemporary novels, and I nominated it for the summer reading project for the class of ‘15. The book takes place in Argenti...more
The novel introduces the military junta, the kidnappings and the murders so slowly and with such hesitance - we first follow a mother, father and son, and then, after the son, Pato, is disappeared, jus...more
First, a brief review of the plot. The place is Argentina in the 70's under the reign of a military junta that snaps citizens up witho...more
literature. Writers like Philip Roth and Saul Bellow made their names kvetching about the human condition, the shadow of the Holocaust in the not-so-ancient past informing the neuroses of their New World progeny.
In their footsteps comes Nathan Englander, born into an Orthodox Jewish family in upstate New York. He made a splash with his first book, a collection of short stories titled For The Relief Of Unbearable Urges (1999)...more
Then something happens, and through the story of this family, Englander tries to imagine how it must have been for people during the Argentinian dictatorship, what hopes and fears they felt in a time where it wa...more
However, at a certain point, the whole book started declining, as the novelty of the absurd decreased and the tedium increased. (This for me is easy to tell- some books keep you hooked until the end...more
Eight years ago Nathan Englander published his acclaimed short story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. He brings the same historical profundity to his first novel. While focusing on the pessimistic Kaddish, whose name honors the dead, and his optimistic wife, Englander tells a much larger story about terrorist regimes and asks universal questions about remembering the dead, dealing with evil, and addressing assimilation, love, ritual, and generational gaps. Most reviewers praised t...more
The novel follows Jewish couple Kaddish and Lillian as they search for their nineteen year old son, and as the months go by the desperation sets in. It is a stifling experience, page after page in their company as they head up blind alleys and come up against bureaucracy time and time again, but in terms of involving the...more
Either the style of this novel is different from his stories I read (some of which I do remember though it's been awhile), or his style is not conducive to a novel, because I'm not interested in reading beyond the ninety-something pages I did read, thoug...more