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Prayers for the Living

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Prayers for the Living is a novel both grand in its vision and loving in its familiarity. Presented in a series of conversations between grandmother Minnie Bloch and her companions, Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio commentator on All Things Considered, unfolds a layered family portrait of three generations of the Bloch family, whose members are collapsing under everyday ...more
Paperback, 392 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Fig Tree Books (first published February 16th 2015)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  58 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Grandma...Minnie Bloch, is having a conversation with her friend---(two jewish Bubbies- grandmothers), shmoozing together over coffee. Minnie is going to tell her friend
'everything' about the accident on Yom Kippur ...when her son, Manny - The Rabbi - fell-
She has a long story to she better 'hold her horses'.

It's Yom Kippur, The Jewish High Holiday. Everyone is a little cranky to begin
with from being hungry. Manny is about to walk to the Temple to lead his congregation
in prayer for
Brenda Schneider
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Drew me in at the start and kept me until the end. Really enjoyed the story. I was a pleasure to read. I received the book through goodreads for an honest review.
Kathryn in FL
Author Alan Cheuse proves that he is capable writing about tough subjects. He incorporates a number of themes: Loss of Innocence; The Impact of Betrayal; The Allure of Money; and Money Can't Buy Happiness are intricately interwoven among the four members of the Bloch family, headed by a former Rabbi, Manny Bloch who becomes the uber businessman with great successes. Cheuse also exerts mastery of symbolism as it relates to death and the circle of life. This story is not only a story of the lack o ...more
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I really enjoyed this book. Minnie, the mother of Manny, is the eccentric narrator. Her sincerity in wanting to change her families fate, but ultimately being a powerless onlooker, is a central theme of the story.

The narrative begins as a two way conversation between Minnie and her friend Mrs. Pinksker. After the first section, that style ends, the rest of the book is Minnie discussing family drama with no interaction with her listeners. I felt that back and forth discussion style was very natu
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a giveaway...thank you.
I found "Prayers for the Living" to be a wonderful book. A grandmother and her family well it grabbed me from the first page and I still occasionally think about it. The characters are wonderful and the narrative writing style is terrific. This book is now being passed among my family and everyone who reads it loves it. I highly recommend.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
I really enjoyed this story and like the idea of it being told by the mother/grandmother but honestly it just felt weird to hear about the sex/intimate scenes described by her about her own son. That said it is a great story and appreciate the publisher providing a free copy through a Goodreads giveaway for an honest review.
Erika Dreifus
At Fig Tree Books, where I'm Media Editor, we've all long admired Alan Cheuse's NPR book reviews. But as soon as I joined the Company, I had the opportunity read this remarkable book, which will be our inaugural release. I hope that all of you will do the same!
Melody Vig
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I enjoyed this book, which I won and was a first reader. I liked the use of narrative, it make the book stand out among other things I've read lately.
Ellyn Kaschak
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good, engaging story of a particular genre. Enjoyable
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
This story sucked me in and I loved every minute I spent reading it!
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An accomplished author 'Alan Cheuse' is not new to the publishing world of both fiction and non fiction. He has been described as "The Voice of Books" on National radio and has been reading to America every week on NPR. He writes poetry, essays, short stories, and novels.

'Prayers for the Living' is not its first publication and has stood the test of time for a few decades. First published in the 1980's, a novel nicely represented throughout three generations of the 'Block' family through convers
Susanna Natti
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is, as the back cover blurb says, a tour de force in writing. Alan Cheuse somehow manages to combine seamlessly the speaking voice, deliciously cadenced, of a Jewish immigrant mother/grandmother AND her inner thoughts, which are expressed without an accent and even poetically while still allowing the reader to understand that both these differently expressed voices are authentic. The plot itself is simple: son of immigrants rises spectacularly and then suffers a devastating downfall because ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story was first published almost 30 years ago, under the title The Grandmothers' Club: A Novel, and was 30 pages less than the ARC of Prayers for the Living: A Novel. (The extra pages in this edition may mean author Alan Cheuse added more to his story, or it's just formatted differently.) According to the preface of this book, Mr. Cheuse got the idea of writing the story after reading about the suicide of Eli Black, a rabbi turned businessman who killed himself in 1975, during a financial s ...more
Aug 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: completed
I received this book from Goodreads. It is a delightful stream of consciousness from a good Jewish mother. Of course, her son and her daughter-in-law and her granddaughter and her son's "girlfriend/mistress" never give her enough attention or listen to her but what does she care. She is just the mother of the famous rabbi who wants to be in business but who has a great congregation. What can she do? The author is book reviewer for NPR and his prose is beautiful. It is as if Manny the rabbi or hi ...more
Brittany Fritz
Jan 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book was hard to get through. It was from the thoughts and perspective of the grandmother through the entire store and her "thoughts" kept jumping between the story (the past) and what she was currently doing (the present). Hard to keep up with.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
FTC Disclosure: I received this book free from Goodreads hoping I would review it.
Elizabeth Mckenzie
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American writer and critic.
For more than two decades, Alan Cheuse has served as NPRs voice of books. He is the author of three novels, including The Grandmothers Club and The Light Possessed, several collections of short stories, and a pair of novellas recently published in The Fires. He is also the editor of Seeing Ourselves: Great Early American Short Stories and co-editor of Writers Workshop in

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