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Hope: A Tragedy

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  4,347 ratings  ·  774 reviews

The bestselling debut novel from Shalom Auslander, the darkly comic author of Foreskin’s Lament and Beware of God.

A New York Times Notable Book 2012

The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solo
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published January 12th 2012 by Riverhead Books (first published January 2012)
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3.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,347 ratings  ·  774 reviews

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Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
The title of Hope: A Tragedy alludes to the philosophy of a radically cynical character in the novel named Professor Jove. In lieu of malice and misfortune, Jove blames human misery simply on hope: despite continual evidence to the contrary, humans still foolishly hope for the best and believe a good, reasonably happy life is somehow attainable. In this theory of hope, Hitler becomes an optimist. Although his methods strike us as cruel and—yes—certainly draconian, he believed a better life was i ...more
Elyse Walters
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
Update: a good friend of mind just read this ...and reminded me how much I enjoyed this comic/tragic GEM. I still own my book!!
You can’t have my copy - It makes me laugh too much. But ... I’ve give this book to others many times. ( I bought stacks when it went on sale years ago at Barnes and Noble)
I really don’t understand why some readers were offended- or didn’t care for it...
I know some ‘Jewish’ people from my temple who felt it was in bad taste ...
Maybe? I absolutely loved it.., so sue me?
Nov 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: don-t-read-it
This book did not work for me.

It should have.

It is a satire, reportedly funny. I love satire. But I didn't think it was funny. At all. I did not laugh once.

Its thesis statement is dethroning of heroes and reevaluation of historical events. I love those topics. I hated the way it was handled in this book, though.

What went wrong? I have tried to put my finger on it, and the only thing I can come up with is that the humour was slapstick, immature vulgarity, which I despise. Instead of making me sm
Apr 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
This book annoyed me to death. I hated the characters. I gave the book one star, and the reason I did so was that I don’t have a lot of patience for characters like Kugel and his mother. He was too Woody Allen-like for me. I hate Woody Allen movies for the same reason: stop being so introspective and neurotic and start acting like a grownup. That’s what I want to scream at the characters.

Also, the entire premise that he couldn’t kick Anne Frank out because it would look bad on him was ridiculou
My top novel of 2012. In Auslander’s absurdist battle between optimism and pessimism, momentous tragedy and mundaneness, nothing is sacred – not the presidentially mandated virtue of hope; certainly not those Jewish “heroes” Anne Frank and Alan Dershowitz; not even the aesthetic guidelines for metaphorical language (“the sun was in the sky like a something. The breeze blew like a whatever”).

This debut novel is ferociously funny. It takes the sarcasm and blasphemy of Auslander’s memoir (Foreskin’
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O carte excelentă, care mi-a amintit pe alocuri de Dostoievski, Kafka și Beckett. În apărarea mea, chestia asta am gîndit-o în engleză și mă gîndeam să scriu Dostoievski meets Kafka meets Beckett, dar mi-a fost lene să văd cum se scrie Dostoievski în engleză. Bun.

Pentru mine, cu cît știam mai puțin despre cartea asta în special, cu atît mai bine. Nu o să mă intereseze vreodată o carte care ”își face reclamă” cu ”Hitler a fost un optimist”. Plus că mă intrigase teribil o recenzie care conținea pi
Jan 21, 2012 rated it really liked it

I’ve been called a Pollyannna. Seriously. I know, right? Funny. Granted, Pollyanna is from Vermont… and she does tend to look at the bright side of life…and I do agree with the statement ‘Just breathing isn’t living!’ but, I draw the line at believing in stupid ‘glad’ games. And this song is really irritating and doesn't at all describe me. I much prefer this version… and it’s not like I ALWAYS find the good in things… I mean, there is absolutely nothing good about that song ‘I’ve got the moves
Whatever you want to say about Auslander as a Jew, he is a talented writer. As a novelist, though, he leaves a lot to be desired.

Assuming you can tolerate Holocaust irreverence, the concept behind this book was actually clever. A Woody Allen-esque neurotic Jew (Solomon Kugel) moves his wife, child, and mother to a farmhouse in the country only to discover a decrepit Anne Frank living in his attic. There's a lot here. The age-old literary trope of discovering a crazy lady living in your attic and
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stela by: Cărți și călătorii

The idea that hope is the hugest misfortune humanity was cursed with is not at all new. It is sadly revealed in the myth of Pandora’s box, it is thoroughly proved by the Buddhist equivalence between life and suffering, it is only apparently reversed by the Dantesque inscription on the hell gates “Lasciate ogni speranza…”

New in this disturbing book is the way Shalom Auslander chooses to interpret the theme. To prove, without doubt, that hope is a tragedy in a book that reads as a comedy is a mas
Jun 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A recent Facebook post of mine had read "I can't wait until they release a 3D IMAX version of 'Schindler's List'". Someone with whom I have a tenuous Facebook relationship declared that I "was in poor taste." I can't help but think how he would have felt about Auslander's novel.

Personally, I found this novel saturated with biting sarcasm, scathing bitterness, and caustic cynicism...and I loved every word. There is no question that Auslander can write. He's quick and vivid, but that's not why th
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
quando il postmodernismo impatta con l'umorismo ebraico...

Auslander è ormai un personaggio con caratteristiche precise, il suo io narrante è un ebreo nevrotico, che si odia un po' e un altro po' si compatisce, ha molta paura, vive di sensi di colpa e sotto sotto teme tutto quel che lo circonda e teme anche che il suo Dio sia davvero la persona vendicativa e irosa del Vecchio Testamento
per cui prima di fare qualsiasi cosa deve pensarci bene, ponderare le possibili conseguenze e evitare ogni form
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether or not you'll like Auslander's debut novel depends on how much you cling to the totemic narratives of history. If you're not afraid to wrestle down those figures and interrogate the validity of their martyr status, then you'll relish this supremely dark and twisty comedy of faith and modern life. If you bristle at reconsidering why you worship the surviving narratives of history's darkest time, then you won't like it at all. Ultimately it's a novel that will speak to the most revisionist ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust, religion
It pays off to go library shelf browsing. I've picked up some fantastic books this way. This one had me laughing out loud several times, the unexpected type of humor that would make you spit out your drink if you were drinking while reading.

Kugel is a neurotic worrywart of a man. He has just moved into a new farmhouse. His wife is upset that his mother is living with them and not dying fast enough (I was never able to tell what exactly was wrong with mom as she seemed quite spunky and it was al
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5, at times.
Despite your personal feelings toward Auslander's outrageousness, I don't think anyone can deny that he has talent. And while this talent shines through in his first novel, it also wears thin, because there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Auslander writes this book as a cross between Philip Roth and Dave Barry, by which I mean you have a dead on, clearly 'been there done that' and resented it depiction of whiny wanna be Holocaust people - ie, ones who capitalize
Jason Furman
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, novel
Outrageously funny, so wildly original you forgive a certain amount of repetitiveness, a rude offspring of Philip Roth and Franz Kafka. The sort of book where you constantly want to put it down and call everyone you know to read them the passages you just read.

Solomon Kugel is a neurotic obsessed with death who recently moved with his family to a farmhouse in upstate New York. One night he hears noise coming from the attic, goes up to investigate, and discovers Anne Frank living up there. But no
Razvan Zamfirescu
Solomon Kugel colecţionează ultime cuvinte rostite înainte de moarte, are o mamă care se consideră supravieţuitoare a Holocaustului, ceea ce şi este, chiar dacă a trăit pe un alt continent decât Europa, sechelată de nazişti, deşi nu a suferit niciodată persecuţie din parte lor pentru că a crescut în America, o casă care pute a pişat şi rahat şi pe o Anne Frank al naibii de bătrână care încearcă să scrie un roman care să depăşeaşcă bariera de vânzări a Jurnalului scris în tinereţe.
Ah, da şi este
Jun 18, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book outrageously funny, but I am sure it's not everyone's cup of tea. The premise struck me as so ridiculous when I read about it that I still can't figure out why I decided to read it, but I am glad I did because it was laugh-out-loud funny despite the absurdity. Here it is: present day, a rural community in New York state where Solomon Kugel buys a beautiful old house in the country and moves in his family including his lovely wife, 3 year old son and cranky old mother. He discov ...more
Rachelle Urist
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. Prophetic. Bold. Funny. Visionary. Dares to examine sacrosanct Jewish symbols in the wake of the Holocaust. Humanizes Anne Frank by imagining her alive today, stuck in an attic limbo in a world that wants her dead. Her death is what gave her book its appeal, thinks Solomon Kugel, who moves his family into a new house, far from the maddening crowd, and discovers that Anne Frank has been hiding in the attic for forty years. Before that, she hid in other people's attics. Attics are safe. ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early, reviewer, book
Darkly comic and wallowing in pessimism, Hope: A Tragedy, a first novel from Shalom Auslander, is heavy with guilt and light as air. It’s a brilliant read.[return][return]Solomon Kugel has brought his wife and young son to Stockton, a small uninspired town in upstate New York, to begin life afresh, make a new start and shake off whatever bad breaks dumped them here. Unfortunately he must bring along his old dying mother, a non-holocaust survivor who nevertheless has taken on all the guilt and an ...more
Jul 02, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Having read and enjoyed Auslander's memoir, 'Foreskin's Lament', I'd thought about buying this novel quite a few times before finding it in a second hand shop. The fact that a novel is classed as 'funny' several times often has me worried as to how I'll like it, and to be honest, I wish I hadn't bothered reading this book.

Set in NY State, the novel concentrates on Solomon Kugel, a neurotic, pessimistic character, almost playing to what in the past may have been considered a stereotypical Jewish
Sid Nuncius
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a fantastic book. Irreverent doesn't come close to describing it and as a result I often found it very funny indeed and regularly laughed out loud while reading it. However, it is also very touching and insightful, and uses its outrageous premise and its humour to say some very important things about how our lives are affected by our approach to our histories and to hope, grief and fear.

My grandparents and others of my family perished in the Holocaust, so I am well aware that
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
The first thing that got me interested in this book were the very amusing "book trailers" I saw on the internet last month, featuring the author calling two other well known authors (Sarah Vowell and John Hodgman)in which Mr. Auslander calls his two author friend separately and asks them that if he needs to hide in their attics, would that be possible, and would he and his small family would be welcome? A main theme in this novel is hiding in the attic. The father figure of the family in the boo ...more
Frieda Vizel
Jun 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is an original, well written work that had me laughing out loud many times. I give Auslander 4 stars for creativity and witticism, but I give 2 for plot and other elements. After about 1/3 of the book the funny bits get recycled and the plot becomes very thin. A lot of his jokes turn up six times in the same book! Lines like: 'Live each day as something, go enjoy the whatever, stop to smell the what-have-you' that mock cliches are funny at first but after a few times feel very old and ...more
Cărți și călătorii
Evreu ce a primit o strictă educație religioasă în copilărie, Shalom Auslander șochează în acest roman cu afirmații incorecte din punct de vedere politic, pe care un non-evreu probabil nu ar îndrăzni să le pună pe hârtie sau s-ar gândi de multe ori înainte să o facă.

În orășelul Stockton, New York, nu s-a întâmplat niciodată nimic remarcabil, acesta fiind și motivul pentru care Solomon Kuger se mută cu familia într-o casă veche, cu un miros cam ciudat: un loc ideal ca s-o ia de la capăt. Numai că
Jun 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, jewish
Shalom Auslander's first full-length novel takes a slight detour from his usual angst about Orthodoxy (see Foreskin's Lament and Beware of God: Stories) to poke fun at gluten intolerance, muse about epitaphs and take Anne Frank off her historical pedestal by finding her alive and well (and old and curmudgeonly) in the attic of a bucolic farmhouse recently bought by a neurotic Jewish guy. What's not to like?

After a day of reflection, though, I think what's holding me back from a higher review is
Apr 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, satire, jewish
I certainly had no idea what to expect with the combination of largely vitriol with praise from one from our book group. So I've got to start with all that by saying I liked this quite a bit more than I thought I would. Here's why:

1. I like books with a strong life philosophy, and that is certainly this one.

2. I also LOVE smart people, foolish choices, and that is REALLY this one.

3. There is some great writing, Especially in the epilogue "Fiction will return, I promise you, especially when the
Juliana Graham
Jan 12, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't like this! I think this is an 'Emperor's New Clothes' book, in that everyone seems to rave about it and then other people continue to rave about it because other people are saying it's great and so it continues... I'm going to stand up and say - I think this book is rubbish! The whole concept of Anne Frank being an old woman living in the attic of the main character was bad enough, but maybe something could have come from this. But some disgusting scenes involving her use of vent ...more
Russell George
Aug 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book annoyed me by the end, even though it was a quick read. The author is clearly very bright, and he’s keen to be funny too, but overall it felt too forced both in terms of tone and structure. The absurd storyline – an introspective middle-aged Jewish man finds Ann Frank living in his attic – may be a darkly funny idea, but it doesn’t stretch itself into a novel. The characters felt like archetypes from a US TV show, familiar but hardly life-like, and the philosophical musings which attem ...more
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
A couple weeks ago, I was helping my sister with a garage sale. It was great weather, but sitting in a garage with no breeze, it was hot. I really didn't think about how hot it was until I went inside, and there with the air conditioning, I couldn't stop sweating! I was SO hot! But outside, not so much.

That's the theme of this book. If you don't know what you're missing, then perhaps you're pretty happy.

It's a quick read and made me LOL at times. If you're the type to rubberneck at a car crash
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Probably one of the boldest satires I ever read that really pokes at the meaning of suffering and guilt, especially as it relates to American culture. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would and although I don't think I'll read it again, I can appreciate the humour and it was still a good read.
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Shalom Auslander is an American author and essayist. He grew up in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Monsey, New York where he describes himself as having been "raised like a veal".[1][2] His writing style is notable for its Jewish perspective and determinedly negative outlook.

Auslander has published a collection of short stories, Beware of God and a memoir, Foreskin's Lament: A Memoir. His work,
“Roads are no place for naive chickens dreaming of nirvana.” 18 likes
“...the greatest source of misery in the world, the greatest cause of anguish and hatred and sadness and death, was neither disease nor race nor religion. It was hope.” 15 likes
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