The Brothers Ashkenazi
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The Brothers Ashkenazi

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  231 ratings  ·  29 reviews
With a large cast of characters, this is a social novel, a family saga set against the rise of capitalism and of a Jewish bourgeoisie in Lodz. It tells the story, through an interwoven plot, of the clash between old traditions and growing desires.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 1st 1993 by Penguin Classics (first published 1937)
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Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories by Sholem AleichemThe Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael ChabonThe Slave by Isaac Bashevis SingerShosha by Isaac Bashevis SingerGimpel the Fool and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Yiddish Literature
7th out of 46 books — 28 voters
The Chosen by Chaim PotokThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael ChabonMy Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim PotokSophie's Choice by William Styron
Jews in Literature
69th out of 396 books — 221 voters

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Lorenzo Berardi
There once was a writer I ranked among the best ones I've ever read.
That author bore the surname of Singer and won a Nobel Prize in Literature back in 1978.

Even though he was born in Poland and spent most of his life in the US, Isaac Bashevis Singer wrote in Yiddish, his mother tongue. He died at the impressive age of 88 and gained all the honours and the fame he deserved.
For I.B. Singer wrote in a truly magnificent way.

Now, our Isaac Bashevis had an elder brother - Israel Joshua - who was him...more
Other Press has reissued Israel Joshua's long out of print
The Brothers Ashkenazi. This 427 page (Yea!) novel was first published in 1937 in Yiddish. This edition is a reprint of the 1980 English translation by Singer's son Joseph. I first heard of this masterpiece on the wonderfully interesting blog Neglected Books.

Singer gave us a broad view in Brothers. This is a family saga but it is also a saga of the economics, history and the culture of the Jewish community in Lodz, Poland. There is a con...more

In "Mastro Don Gesualdo" Verga focalizza sul personaggio, dando più spazio ai dialoghi e rendendolo più vibrante, più emozionante di Max Ashkenazi. Inoltre, il Mastro Don è un personaggio più complesso, più venato di umanità: il suo sogno è il progresso: coltivare ciò che i Baroni abbandonavano, dare lavoro a chi moriva di fame, produrre ricchezza per sé ma anche benessere per tutti. Gli stucchi e le dorature del palazzo della figlia gli sembrano uno spreco (Quante cose si sarebbero potute fare...more
Jamie Bradway
This is an excellent companion to the World War One readings I've been doing for the past several weeks, a subject pretty unknown to me.

The Brothers Ashkenazi follows the lives of twin brothers in Lodz, Poland from the latter 1800's to just past the first world war. Max, the striver and schemer, works hard to accumulate great wealth and become 'Kind of Lodz'. His younger, handsomer, more charming brother lucks into equal levels of success.

The rise and fall of the family correlates with the histo...more
Lewis Weinstein
This was more of an overview of history than a novel, which served my research purposes well but left me flat as a reader of historical fiction. I never got involved in the lives of the protagonists, never had feelings about any of the characters. I did learn quite a bit about the Polish Jewish experience in the late 19th century during the explosive growth of manufacturing and capitalism . The story continues into the early 20th century, but I had the feeling the later chapters were just sort o...more
Noah Enelow
This is a brilliant novel, and I think just about everyone should read it. As a second- and third-generation Jewish American, I have just not found a single other work that compares to this one in talking about what the "Old Country" must have been really like. No nostalgia for village life here! And the language here is refreshingly straightforward, like cold water in your face. Refreshing, stinging cold water that makes you thankful that someone is willing to be as brutally honest as I.J. Sing...more
Of the 3/4th that I read, I enjoyed. Even though I love long novels & learned a lot about Lodz life at the turn of the century, the spark of attraction was not there. A solid work, but one that just didn't meet me in the right time & place in my life. I'm sure I'll pick it up again a few months down the road.
Picked this one up thinking that I was getting something written by his brother “Isaac Bashevis Singer”, very glad that I made that mistake because this was astonishing, makes me wonder why this one isn’t known better. A spiralling family saga written in the old tradition with Jewish touches. An astonishing tale of realism taking you through the early 20th century Poland (ends before WWII but lives through WWI), a wonderful morality tale and creates a broad and dazzling portrait. This really des...more
A Yiddish Tolstoy/Hardy.
Good if you like reading about pogroms.

Covers the development of Lodz from when it was a little village, through its rise as a centre of textile manufacturing through to its decline in the 1920s. That makes it sound really boring.... It's not a boring book, though, not so much because the author is good at making the characters interesting as because you'd have to be a really bad author to make the russian revolution fail to grab your attention.

This is my first time reading anything by this br...more
Decir que esta novela trata sobre dos hermanos con ambiciones y temperamentos distintos separados por el odio sería injusto. Esta gigantesca novela es mucho más que eso, es la historia de un pueblo, de una nación sin patria en un apartado pueblo polaco, es la historia de los judíos en Europa, la historia de la revolución rusa, la historia de la revolución industrial, la historia del sindicalismo, la historia del capitalismo; es todo eso contado con el estilo clásico de la novela del XVIII unido...more
Joel Kleehammer
I was really impressed by this book and the quality of both the writing and the storytelling. Israel Joshua Singer, older brother of Isaac Bashevis Singer, was a master artist who wove stories that could grab the reader and transport them to a place and time forgotten.

Following a Jewish family in Poland from the mid-1800's to roughly the 1920's, The Brothers Ashkenazi traces the lives of twin brothers whose paths diverge greatly. You see the cycle of Jewish life and how the lives of Jews carry...more
Christian Patterson
This is a Yiddish novel that is basically about European Jews transitioning into modernity. In that sense, I found this book extremely fresh and intriguing, because this time period was much more complicated for Jews than, say white, Western Europeans. I learned a lot about Jewish culture and really felt like I came away with a lot of new knowledge.

But, unfortunately, since the book is so epic in terms of size, I never got enough time with the characters. In one chapter, two characters may be ge...more
This may be the best novel no one has ever heard of. I wasn't sure I would enjoy this book but from chapter one I could not put it down.

It's a good twin/bad twin story with a love triangle set against industrial revolution Poland. The characters are not well fleshed out, but that is made up for by the breathtaking scope of the setting. The city of Lodz is almost the most important character in the story...from pastorial beginnings to unfettered capitalism to the rise of the union movement. Then...more
Alejandro Canton-Dutari
The author is the oldest brother of Nobel Prize winner Isaac Bashevis Singer. This work was originally written in Yiddish, but the English translation seems to reflect the original spirit.
This novel is a remarkable socio-political treatise of the city of Lodz – Poland – around the beginning of last century and its Jewish inhabitants. IJ Singer seems to blame his fellow Jewish community members for their eventual downfall through the perils of World War II.
It must be mentioned that IJ Singer brok...more
I read this book years ago and it is still one of my favorites. I often use it for illustrations and quotes in speeches.
Amazing book.
Great historical fiction, but character development is lacking leaving me with an "almost Tolstoy" feeling.
This book wouldn't suit all tastes, but is brilliantly written.
magnifica storia, non solo dei due (diversissimi) fratelli ashkenazi ma anche della lodz in piena espansione all'inizio del '900. un grande classico- in cui c'è tutto quello che si può chiedere a un romanzo: trama e introspezione, personaggi complessi e la descrizione vivida di un mondo mutevole e ormai scomparso (in cui si viene catapultati fin dalle prime pagine). è valsa la pena aspettare la tanto sospirata ristampa di questo libro.
"The book has the grand sweep of Tolstoy�with pitch-perfect artistry and pace." � Wall Street Journal

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Joel Miller
Books like this are easily confined to an ethnic ghetto. But this is a truly masterful novel in the best 19th and early 20th century traditions. In my opinion it is right up there with Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks or Dostoyevsky for that matter.
Elijah Kinch Spector
Not to be all hipstery about it, but I suspect I may end up liking the lesser known (nowadays) Singer brother more than ol' I. B.
I found this book especially intereting in light of the fact that author is IB Singer's older brother.
Jared Wellman
A great work by one of the great Yiddish writers. Although I think I prefer to read his brother Isaac.
Interesting story. Well written, engaging and trustworthy.
Twin brothers. one favored and one ignored. very good
Sebastian Knight
Mielenkiintoinen katsaus juutalaisuuteen
Nice, though I expected more from it.
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Israel Joshua Singer was a Yiddish novelist. He was born Yisroel Yehoyshue (Yeshue) Zinger the son of Pinchas Mendl Zinger, a rabbi and author of rabbinic commentaries, and Basheva Zylberman. He was the brother of Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer and novelist Esther Kreitman.
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