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Moving Kings

3.13  ·  Rating details ·  418 ratings  ·  85 reviews
This is a novel about two young Israeli soldiers who travel to New York after fighting in the Gaza War and find work as eviction movers. It’s a story of the housing and eviction crisis in poor Black and Hispanic neighborhoods that also shines new light on the world’s oldest conflict in the Middle East. The year is 2015, and 21-year-olds Yoav and Uri have just completed the ...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Random House
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Ron Charles
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Admit it: You picked up Joshua Cohen’s 800-page epic “Witz” but decided life was too short. A few years later, you thought maybe you’d tackle his 600-page “Book of Numbers,” but a novel by the New York novelist Joshua Cohen about a New York novelist named Joshua Cohen sounded like a postmodern migraine.

Now you’re out of excuses. Granta recently named Cohen one of the best young American novelists, and his new book, “Moving Kings,” is a svelte comic triumph that concentrates his genius. Here, in
Olivia "Don't Blame Me I Voted for Hillary"
Good story about the owner of a moving/storage business and his distant Israeli cousin and his friend who have just finished serving in the Israeli army and are now working for him. Copy obtained via a Goodreads giveaway. I really liked this book.
Apr 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moving Kings is shorter and more accessible than Joshua Cohen’s Book of Numbers and Four New Messages. It’s well written and caustic, dealing with Big Issues such as social and religious strivings and the meaning of being Jewish. As someone of Jewish descent, I should have liked it more than I did; often, I found myself wondering how those who didn’t grow up with the Jewish experience would relate.

The title – Moving Kings – refers to David King, an American Jew who inherited his father’s furnit
This year Granta named Joshua Cohen one of their Best of Young American Novelists. His previous works include Book of Numbers and Four New Messages. His reputation is for writing long and rather dense fiction that prioritizes Jewish themes. To my relief, though, Moving Kings is a short and often engaging book that alternates between New York City and Israel to tell of characters looking for, or jealously guarding, a sense of home and belonging.

Set in 2015, the novel opens with David King of King
David M
Mar 12, 2018 marked it as to-read
Joshua Cohen published a new novel last year... about a moving company??!

Sounds like Moby Dick territory. Even better, James Wood wrote a review of it

"Perhaps because moving office furniture is clearly not much like smashing up a Palestinian house, Cohen ups the ante."

Goddamn it, Mr Wood can be such a killjoy, but yeah, kind of has a point here. Moving someone's furniture is actually sort of the opposite of crushing a colonial population. Professional mov
Jonathan Pool
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-lit
Moving Kings is my second Joshua Cohen novel, after Book of Numbers.
A very different book, simpler, and a good one to ascertain if Cohen deserves the succession of plaudits proclaiming his youthful excellence.

Moving Kings is about Jewish religious observance and of Jewish family life and contradictions; it's about the State of Israel. It's also about repossession teams in New York and the realities of existence when/ if life turns sour.

Cohen's writing demands/ expects the reader to be tuned into
Moving Kings is like a more palatable, less brilliant version of Cohen's Book of Numbers. It's shorter, and not nearly as offensive or frustrating; but nor is it as ambitious, audacious, or freewheeling. It could, kind of, be an interlinked collection of short stories focusing on a loose knot of characters that includes removals mogul David King; his distant cousin Yoav, late of a compulsory stint in the Isareli army; Yoav's tinderbox squadmate Uri; and, tangentially but critically, an addled Vi ...more
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm the first person reviewing this and can't help but wish I liked it more. I usually enjoy immigrant experience/New York stories, but this tale of two young Israeli men fresh out of the army service who come to the US and work for a relocation company just didn't sing for me at all. it's a fairly quiet story right up until it's explosive ending and, while there is a way to write interestingly about the mundane, Cohen doesn't really do that here, The writing, though perfectly competent and serv ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I read this book for two main reasons. Firstly Granta recently included an excerpt from the book in Granta 139: Best of Young American Novelists 3 and I thought it was one of the better pieces in that collection. Secondly, Amazon put the Kindle version of the complete book on sale for a ridiculously low price (it’s still less than £5 as I write this).

This is my first experience of Cohen. I haven’t read either of his previous two novels which I understand are longer and perhaps less penetrable. T
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
A moving tale?

Anybody intrepid enough to have waded into Joshua Cohen’s Book of Numbers will know that he’s not an author to give them an easy ride. Moving Kings is certainly more accessible than his previous work but Cohen’s idiosyncratic way with words could still be a stumbling block. Or – as he might have it – stumbingblock. He runs words together, repeats key words in sentences and writes such stylised prose that it overwhelms his story. Which is a shame as it’s rather a good one.

David Kin
Leo Walsh
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
An ambitious book that, despite the talented author, fails to live up to his thematic concern: equating the dispossessed, used and abused lower classes of Israel and Palestine who are locked in deadly combat with how the lower stratum of New York. It traces David King, in a too-obvious allusion to the biblical King David, a moving company owner who makes the majority of his money in evictions: moving out the defaulting homeowners at the mortgage company's expense, storing the goods in a David-ow ...more
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: race
Cohen portrays real characters with poetic language in this relatively short novel. The plot is minor, with lots of subtext about race and prejudice (the Israelis taunting the Arabs; the whites thinking the Israelis are Arabs; the Mexicans feeling superior to the Israelis because of the language barrier; the question of authentic Judasim), but the tone is compelling enough to keep it moving along nicely.

Cohen is great with words: "The man, swimfit in a slim cut suit" for example, but also in his
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Incredibly uneven. The sections of Moving Kings focused on David King, president of King's Moving, are funny, insightful, and compelling. The rest of the book, however, is just sort of two-dimensional characters being bleak and screaming into the existential void.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: pub-2017
I must amend this review to say that I recently heard Joshua Cohen on the Shakespeare & Company podcast on the topic of Moving Kings and my estimation of the book has gone way up. I really recommend listening to those who have read it. I just wish I had gotten more of this, more of him, in the actual book. I still feel the book could have been expanded, that it was only half what it could have been, but the interview really brought home the possibilities. He may be one of those writers whom ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The bottom line of wunderkind Joshua Cohen's compact and marvelous MOVING KINGS, though I am hardly certain you could actually call it a selling point, would appear to be a bristling conflation between lives lived by peoples of minority ethnicity in the poorer sections of New York's outer boroughs and those lived in Gaza, both kinds of living in one sense or another made to be understood as lives lived under occupation. Though we have recourse to brief insights into the bedraggled life of one Af ...more
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stark och synnerligen välskriven
Daniel Sevitt
Some of this was very inside, using Hebrew, Hebrew slang and army slang at times, but there was also an attempt at universalizing the experience of the conscript and the sense of not knowing why or who you have served. I don't think the novel succeeds throughout, it's tonally inconsistent and sometimes the stream of consciousness just feels ill-disciplined, but it's certainly part of an interesting trend. For decades US Jewish novelists have been focused on the experience of being other in Ameri ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
MOVING KINGS. (2017). Joshua Cohen. 1&1/2*.
It takes a lot for me to not finish reading a book. This stems from when I was a kid of about six or seven-years old, and the librarian would always ask me if I liked a book when I returned it. It didn’t matter if I liked it or not, but I had to be honest and tell her why I either did or didn’t. The upside was that when I found a book I liked, she would give me a few books like it to continue with. Well, Miss Librarian, I did not like this book. I g
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
With his offbeat prose, knack for quick characterizations, and wicked sense of irony, Joshua Cohen is a born short-story writer. Unfortunately, "Moving Kings" is a novel, and even at a trim 240 pages it can't justify its length, unless you consider stuffing an 800-page DeLillo epic's worth of digressions into a short book to be an admirable achievement. Buried among all the aphorisms is a potentially brutal short story about two Israeli army veterans evicting an old, opiate-addicted Black Muslim ...more
A Novel Brings Israel’s Conflicts to New York
Joshua Cohen’s stylistic gifts are prodigious, but does “Moving Kings” live up to its ambitions?
By James Wood
Amber Manning
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is (mostly) excellent. Cohen's prose is readable but not formulaic and the structure of the novel is clever without being confusing. He sketches lovely arcs that make us see the inter-relatedness of all beings: soldiers out of war resemble Jewish survivors who resemble the changing landscape of New York which resembles the unpaired possessions stripped from evicted house. Stuff--where it comes from and how it moves--often dominates the text but in a way that raises interesting ontologi ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
The prose is electric and Cohen is an impressively in-touch observer of milennials in the TriState. He has no use for them, so his satire is cruel, smart-- a recipe for laughs.

His descriptions of the protagonist's daughter, of all the New Yorkers who can afford moving services-- they're taken from the lives of people I know. I'm trying to read as much contemporary fiction as I can-- a sorry task-- and new books rarely resonate with me like this one did.

I'll admit, the plot did nothing for me.
Greg Zimmerman
Still waiting for the great novel everyone assumes Cohen will someday produce...
Mark William
Joshua Cohen knows now. 'Witz', I'm going in...
Sam (AMNReader)
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Just wasn't engaging for me
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I think Cohen is the most talented working American novelist. This is his shortest book and I wanted it to be his longest (the reverse of Book of Numbers). It's his most accessible and yet his most experimental in places. I listened to it instead of reading it and the sounds of his sentences were often overwhelming in their intensity.
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is a harsh comparison drawn between Israeli veterans and American veterans in Joshua Cohen's newest novel, Moving Kings; likewise a contrast of the divergent cultures of the allied powers. Of course with a main character named David King, it's also hard to miss the biblical metaphors throughout (his previous novel is titled The Book of Numbers, perhaps the next will be The Judges Chronicles, who knows?) . But the focus here is on two ex-IDF infantrymen, Yoav and Uri. Yoav happens to be the ...more
Ayelet Waldman
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had a boyfriend who worked for Moishe’s Moving in New York City for years, so this book is really close to my heart.
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
David King is the head of “King’s Moving“, a New York based family business specialised in moving homes. Couples moving in together, couples going separate ways. David and his wife Bonnie also separated, their daughter Tammy wastes his father’s money and his secretary Ruth now manages not only the office but all of David’s life. There is just one thing she cannot help him with: David’s cousin from Israel asked him to welcome her son Yoav for some time. He just came out of the IDF and like all th ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-fiction
I came into this book sideways, with my own baggage from my writing group. One of the members (and a dude) gave me pause when he hinted that I over-rely on using narrative to state or probe my characters' emotions. This book is the complete opposite of the spectrum. For a little while I wondered if I should use it as a template for improvement, but Cohen is so opposed to any internal monologue or emotional connection with his characters (oh noez, sentimentality!) that it's not really worth it. T ...more
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Joshua Aaron Cohen (born September 6, 1980 in New Jersey) is an American novelist and writer of stories.
“The wife said, “That’s what it said in the pamphlet: follow in the footsteps of Jesus—but it didn’t say how many steps.” 1 likes
“Another thing about couples: they tended to move in together (hiring one crew for both members), but move out separately (hiring one crew for each member)—the lesson being that while making a life together took more toil, unmaking that life took more cash.” 0 likes
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