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The Family Markowitz

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  761 ratings  ·  92 reviews
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK - From the author of The Chalk Artist, this beloved collection of linked stories is -one of the most astute and engaging books about American family life to have come our way in quite a while- (The Boston Globe).
In this beloved collection of linked short stories, Allegra Goodman writes with wit and compassion about three generations of Mark
Paperback, 280 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Dial Press (first published August 22nd 1996)
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Average rating 3.37  · 
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 ·  761 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Jan 23, 2021 rated it liked it
I feel like I know this family well now, with all their quirks.
Notcathy J
Jun 16, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
"As short stories, boring; as a novel, pointless." ...more
Janine Corman
Allegra Goodman is a great writer. I enjoyed getting to know the Family Markowitz. I went out of my way to buy a second copy of the book when I lost the first one, only 2/3 through. That has to say something. I loved the characters and I feel like I learned a lot about Jewish history, Jewish culture, and Jewish faith.

My only issue, and it's not a small one, is that the stories neither stood alone well, nor did they make a complete novel. I had so many unanswered questions, most notably, the con
Jennifer S. Brown
While this is a collection of short stories, they all revolve around one family, over the course of about fifteen years, giving the book much more of a novel feel. In fact, while many of the stories were strong in and of themselves, there were a few that I didn't feel stood up on their own. Because the stories were so heavily linked, though, it made me read the book as a novel, and as such, I wanted more from the characters.

The heart of the stories is the Rose Markowitz, the elderly mother of Ed
Jul 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a set of short stories that focus on the Markowitz family: matriarch Rose, who loses her husband and worries her children with her Percocet addiction; her son Henry, who puts aesthetics before his sexual preferences; her other son, Ed, who is in constant simmering crisis about his career and about shifting relationships as his children grow up and he becomes his mother’s caretaker; and Ed’s long-suffering wife, Sarah. The stories cover milestone events in their lives, but Goodman focuses ...more
This story of a family—elderly mother, two grown brothers, and their wives and children—is told through a series of short stories. Each story stands alone and also ties together all the others.

There’s a lot of whining in these stories, and nothing much happens, not a lot of action here. I think this book, like most books about families, is about growing up, growing old, having relationships with people we choose (like husbands and wives) and with people we end up with by chance (in-laws, childr
This is more a 2.5 than a 3. The novel is a collection of stories about members of a family over the course of 25 years with flashbacks to earlier days for each. But the sum of these parts never quite makes it to a greater story -- a novel. It's kind of like a "home for the holidays" movie with the people falling into their usual patterns. We know how each character will react in different situations and at different stages I'm life. There is humor in that, but no great aha moments. ...more
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Three generations of Jewish family-satirical humor, uneven quality which varies from engaging to boring.
Mickey Weinstein
A good family story and American Jews of a certain age may identify. However, the characters were to a degree rather stereotyped. The typical kvetchy, passive-aggressive drama queen matriarch with Percocet addiction as a twist, the typical sibling rivalry between the scholarly, materialistic academic liberal activist apparently addicted to chaos with the hair trigger temper and the artsy Anglophile anachronistic aesthete with possibly confused sexual orientation (but he marries a Gentile he meet ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful collection of intertwined stories of three generations of a Jewish family, matriarch Rose, her two sons, Ed and Henry, who have to decide where she's going to live, their wives and children. Lots of familiar dialogues -- the tsuris and the naches, it's all there. Sarah, one of the daughters-in-law teaches creative writing workshops at a senior center and the experiences, stories and critiques are spot-on. I could have sworn she was writing about my workshops! Some scenes -- like the we ...more
Michael Brown
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads
Serious and funny by turns, this is yet one more of those novels composed of short stories, my favorite type of reading these days. Although the first story is about Rose, the matriarch, and she keeps popping up, most of the book is about her son Ed and his wife Sarah. There is also the effete son Henry and his wife Susan, but they live in England, and so are spared most of the burden of taking care of feisty old mom, Rose. There are grandchildren and Miriam, the traditionalst, who's getting mar ...more
I love Allegra Goodman’s writing, the way she captures her characters’ idiosyncratic speech, mannerisms and humanity. These are wonderful stories, but they are not exactly stand-alone short stories, nor are they a novel, although they connect through time and place one large, bickering but loving Jewish family. I do wish Goodman had turned this into a novel because she left unfinished a number of loose ends. I’ll never know, for instance, what happens to the Hebrew manuscript left unfinished in ...more
Sandy Brusin
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud while reading a book, but this jewel about a quirky Jewish family really tickled me. I don't know how I missed this one when it was published in 1996, but I'm glad a friend recommended it to me recently. I swear I know Mrs Markowitz. She is sooo real. ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-themes
It started out slow, but I am glad that I hung in there. It would have been a book that I would have attempted to abandon, but it was a book club book. It is a collection of short stories about the Markowitz family, grandmother Rose, sons Ed and Henry, and Ed's children. Goodman did a great job of capturing the tone of family interactions. Some of the conversations sounded eerily familiar. ...more
John Newcomb
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is really a selection of short stories with repeated character being the delightful, charming , irritating, frustrating, intelligent and foolish Family members of the Markowitz clan. I thoroughly enjoyed the stories and they are so well written you become very much engaged with these very human people.
Eric Auth
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.
Susan Beecher
Enjoyable novel about a Jewish family with interesting members. Well-written.
Rebecca Cohen
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a nice novel about a family told through a series of short stories. I loved the family and I loved short story format. It was well written.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
Mindi Lutwin
This book did not flow and was pretty boring
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars
Humorous -- lots of dysfunction.
John Hubbard
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For about half of this novel, I felt it was a Winesburg, Ohio styled book about a family instead of a town. As the book progressed, however, the characters begin to reappear much more often in each others’ tales and also there were a couple of characters who received multiple treatments. The book is really about the development and struggles of religiousness in the Markowitz family. Rose, the most prominent of the eldest (WWII) generation, follows a devout, traditional, but certainly not fundame ...more
Jul 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Allegra Goodman proves herself to be the master of the human psyche. I actually read these stories out of order- years ago, I flipped through "The Four Questions," as it was included in the Norton Anthology of Jewish American literature. I felt confident that I "knew" most of the characters from that Passover seder. Boy was I wrong.

Allegra takes us through 20 years of "slice-of-life" stories dealing with three generations of the Markowitz family, and occassionally the people they bum
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is really well written and aside from some boring unnecessary blah blah stuff I really liked the
story. There was a grandmother, her kids, their spouses, her grandchildren and they grow older and things
change tra la la. I cried a bit, because sometimes I look at my toddler who refuses to sit in the bathtub and
spits out large chunks of food to take a drink before returning them to his mouth and it is sad to think of
him as a big teenager or adult man. It shouldn't be sad, because gett
Mar 05, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started to read this book I wasn't sure if I was going to like it or even finish it. I had already read Ms Goodman's novels, KAATERSKILL FALLS and PARADISE PARK, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. I just wasn't sure if this would be more of the same ... the same characters...the same issues. ...But I stuck with it because I enjoy her writing so much and I was pleasantly surprised!

THE FAMILY MARKOWITZ is a compilation of short stories describing different members of this complex fam
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know that Allegra Goodman writes well so it was no surprise to me that I thoroughly enjoyed The Family Markowitz which I finally found in my used book shop. It's at times very comical, at times wise, at times so familiar, we can only smile in recognition. There's Rose, mother of Ed and Henry, aware only of herself, there's Ed, an expert on terrorism who believes in peace in the Middle East, Sarah who keeps him sane, Henry, an ex-gay man now married and running a Laura Ashley shop in England, t ...more
Jun 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I checked this book out from the library and left it on a plane. The library replaced it and I checked it out again. I'm happy to say that I finished the book and returned it to my branch without incident. This is a story of a family that has different family members trading off as the narrator. I really liked how you got a sense of the mother and her two adult sons. The first three chapters were fantastic. After that, things got a little chatty and seemed to be focused on odd details. I loved h ...more
Ok, I read it. Parts of it I liked and parts of it I thought were cute. I never laughed out loud. And although towards the end of the book I got to like some of the characters a bit more, I never really related to them very much and never got to like (the supposed main character?) Rose. Although described on the back cover as the 'matriarch' of the family, she was not portrayed with the weight of that word and had the focus from the start of the book been on another character it would have been ...more
Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was slow to warm up to this book of related stories. The characters were initially hard to get a handle on. The stories are collected in chronological order, but sometimes the information left out about events that aren't included in the stories confused me. But by the second half of the collection I was hooked. What a wonderful, frequently goofy, eternally flawed bunch we get to follow here. Those big topics that make up the essence of good literature are here-- how do we live, how do we conn ...more
David Jay
I enjoyed one of Goodman's novels, Kaaterskill Falls, very much and was disappointed by this one. It is more a series of interconnected short stories than an actual novel (which is a literary device I tend to like), all involving the Markowitz family, an East coast, upper middle class Jewish family. The characters are realistically written but I found them, overall, unlikeable and had no interest in any of them. The plot, as it was, was uninteresting. Goodman is a very strong writer and there we ...more
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Hello, Good Readers! It's a pleasure to meet you!

I was born in Brooklyn, but I grew up in Honolulu. When I was a seven year old living in Hawaii, I aspired to become a novelist--but I began by writing poetry and short stories.

In high school and college I focused on short stories and in June, 1986, I published my first in "Commentary." My first book was a collection of short stories, "Total Immersi

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