Life with a Star
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Life with a Star

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  191 ratings  ·  22 reviews
In Nazi-occupied Prague, ex-bank clerk Josef Roubick discovers that the prosaic world he has always inhabited is suddenly off-limits to him because he is a Jew. When he begins to observe his new, increasingly skewed, and macabre environment with resigned detachment, his life becomes centered on survival and on the surprisingly small things he clings to in order to persever...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 25th 1998 by Northwestern University Press (first published 1st 1964)
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Robert Greenfield
What can I say about a book that is so utterly moving, thoroughly compelling, and deeply disturbing - evoking the barbaric horrors of the Holocaust... The author with his astonishing and simplistic narrative, has truly captured the essence of the vilest horrors befalling the Jewish race at the hands of the merciless, murderous, and TOTALLY immoral Nazis', who incidentally are emotively only referred to as THEM or THEY etc in the narrative. I became totally engrossed in the protagonist's (hopeles...more
Meh. This book is supposed to be one of the greatest classics of Czech literature, but in my mind that doesn't speak well for Czech literature. Although it's only 200 pages, it took me forever to finish because it dragged so much.

I suppose I can kind of see the merit in why the author wrote the way he did -- this long, slow slog to doom -- but it did not make for enjoyable or engrossing reading. NOTHING HAPPENED in the story. It was just one gray, dreary day after another, the protagonist's exis...more
When I picked this book up – from the guy who sells books every weekend in Swiss Cottage outside Hampstead Theatre – I didn’t know the first thing about Jiri Weil. A flip to the back – an account of surviving the Holocaust in wartime Prague – and my interest was confirmed. This stuff was right up my alley. But the slim size of the book is deceptive; it took me a lot longer to finish it than I had initially expected.

Part of it because of the nature of the story, the texture of Weil’s prose. Some...more
Edward Belfar
In Life with a Star, a very ordinary Jewish man, the former bank clerk Josef Roubick, struggles to survive the Nazi occupation of Prague. Living in hiding, he finds his life increasingly circumscribed and imperiled by the increasing punitive and arbitrary edicts handed down by the German occupiers. Life with a Star is a powerful, moving, sometimes darkly comic novel that I recommend very highly.
Linda Lipko
Highly recommended , this is an incredible book and one of the most haunting tales of the brutal Nazi terror and unrelenting evil.
Alex Knipping
Hoe kun je een afschrikwekkend verhaal vertellen zonder dat je lezers afhaken? Als de weerzin tegen de wreedheid te groot wordt, dan stopt de lezer misschien. Of erger, de ellende went en lijkt na pagina's lezen gewoon te worden. Jiri Weil kiest voor naïeve distantie. Zijn hoofdpersoon in 'Leven met de ster' beschouwt zijn onderdrukking met een kinderlijk soort afstandelijkheid. Hij ondergaat alle onzinnige regels en verboden op een lijdzame manier en probeert te overleven door te onthechten en...more
Jiři Weil is better known for his superb Mendelssohn is on the Roof and while this deals with similar events – Jewish life occupied Prague – I am slightly surprised to be saying that this is perhaps more rewarding. Josef Roubicek is close to the quintessential everyman, so excessively normal that he is both utterly believable and nearly unbelievable; a bank clerk, single (but with one overwhelming pre-war affair with the wife of a friend’s friend), parents dead and raised by what seem to be a r...more
Indringend verhaal over een eenzame man tijdens de Duitse bezetting van Praag. Verordeningen en bizarre circulaires maken het leven van Josef Roubicek steeds moeilijker. Bijna Kafkaiaans beschreven. In allerlei straten mag hij niet komen, in de tram alleen zitten als het niet druk is en allerlei spullen moeten ingeleverd worden. Dit laatste vind Josef niet zo erg omdat hij toch vrijwel niets bezit. Lichtpuntjes in zijn bestaan zijn z’n (fictieve) gesprekken met zijn grote liefde Ruzena en Thomas...more
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This is a magnificent book, the best I have read in 2012 so far. It is fairly short at just 250 pages but it packs in so much in this space.


The book is about the life of a Jew in Prague during the Second World War. As he waits for transportation to the death camps his life is progressively closed down by diktat after diktat from "them" (the Germans are never mentioned). Petty, arbitary restrictions and daily fear and humiliation become a normal part of life.

Food is scarce an...more
Adam Rabiner
Czech author Jiri Weil is mostly known for two excellent Holocaust novels, Life with a Star and Mendelssohn is on the Roof. While the latter is a pastiche of narratives taken from various perspectives, Jew and non Jew, Life with a Star has a single Jewish narrator, Josef Roubicek, and thus is more of a conventional novel. They both approach the Holocaust from a close distance - near to the death camps and ghettos, not directly from within them. But this indirect approach captures the evil and da...more
Susie Rohrbough
Prague, Czeckoslovakia...a banker lives in a shell of a house, burning furniture to keep warm and to prevent non- Jews from taking it from him when they want. Struggling to find food to eat. Struggling to report to registration stations. Forced to wear a star. Cowering away from those who would humiliate him.

I found it gloomy and profoundly sad in the simple way survival is decribed. Written as a day-to-day account of a rather dull banker whose life has been narrowed by edict upon new edict. Fr...more
Read in one go. A very unusual book, which, I suppose, could offend some. Written in 1948 or 49, so well before people had a consensus of how the Holocaust should be written about. The main hero is a bit like Kafkian K., but then finds new consciousness through meeting Materna, his "commissar" (a bit of Socialist Realism there). A simple but striking style. Clearly based on his own experiences, but also clearly not autobiographical, as Weil himself was an amazing character, and not like K. at al...more
Poignant fictionalized depiction of life as a Jew under the Nazi terror, in Prague. Weil was no stranger to this reality, as Philip Roth explains in a foreword. Provokes me to finally track down Jerzy Koszinski's Painted Bird, another "novel," and admittedly one whose authenticity has been challenged but that, in the hands of a master storyteller, stands as another key fictional narrative about life as the persecuted during the Nazi era.
Great book. Beautifully written and not predictable. This is a story of a single Jewish man and his trials as he tries to survive in Czechoslovakia during WWII. It is a very different view of the struggle... the hardships seem more real, the hunger is palpable. There is an odd hopefulness along with a frustration for the fact that the tragedy was allowed to happen at all. How do you survive such an ordeal? Read this book!
"if there were no hope", I said, "we would probably fight",
"and people always think there's hope, even they're standing over an open grave"
200 pages of hope even if all around tell you to die.
very very good book, but I think, will be interting for people who have read about Holocaust before.
This book is *fantastic*. I can't say enough for it - I absolutely loved it. I enjoy war stories, particularly those from WW1 and WW2 - this retells one man's experience of Nazi occupied Prague, a Jewish man. This novel is a classic and should be taught at school!
Joshua moses
One of the most haunting books I have ever read--about the Holocaust or anything else.
A good novel about living in Nazi occupied Prague as a Jew.
May 06, 2008 Mark marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Supposed to be a classic about life under Naziism.
Ayelet Waldman
Ripped my heart out, stomped it to nothing.
David Kuhn
David Kuhn marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2014
Kačenka Bradáčová
Kačenka Bradáčová marked it as to-read
Aug 22, 2014
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Aug 17, 2014
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Mendelssohn is on the Roof Colors Žalozpěv za 77297 obětí Moskva - hranice Elegie Fur 77 297 Opfer: Judische Schicksale in Bohmen Und Mahren 1939-1945

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“I knew now how happiness awoke; I knew that happiness was quiet, that it hid in crevices but could not be destroyed by shouting and whipping.” 1 likes
“We turned the pages impatiently, afraid it would end too soon but full of suspense” 1 likes
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