Alex Templeton's Reviews > Hope: A Tragedy

Hope by Shalom Auslander
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's review
Apr 16, 2012

really liked it

4.5 stars. This is one of the most thought-provoking novels I’ve read in awhile. In it, Solomon Kugel has just moved his wife and sickly young son out from the city into a rural community. He is unfortunately joined by his mother, who pretends that she was a Holocaust victim even though she grew up far and away from the Europe of the 1940’s. There is also a local arsonist who is burning down farm houses just like Kugel’s. When Kugel discovers that Anne Frank has survived and is living, old and grotesque, in his attic, all hell breaks loose. I definitely think that this novel had some definite things to say about the Jewish relationship to history, and the perceived responsibility to history, as personified by the Anne Frank situation. I also dare say that these things probably wouldn’t make a lot of Jewish people happy. I definitely perceived Kugel’s mother as a comment on the Jewish attachment to the idea of their group’s own victimhood. As this is something that I have often thought about, I was interested in its depiction in this novel. There in itself is a comment that could get me called a self-hating Jew! Sorry, folks. I actually think there could probably be a fair number of people out there who might call Auslander a self-hating Jew himself for writing this dark and darkly funny story. Sorry to say, I think that sensibility is why I liked it so much.

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