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The Jewish Messiah

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  815 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The new novel by the internationally acclaimed author- "a farce of nuclear proportions"("Vanity Fair")
Arnon Grunberg is one of the most subtly outrageous provocateurs in world literature. "The Jewish Messiah," which chronicles the evolution of one Xavier Radek from malcontent grandson of a former SS officer, to Jewish convert, to co- translator of Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in
ebook, 480 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 2004)
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Glenn Russell
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Welcome to the world of Xavier Radek, teenage high schooler and grandson of a late Nazi SS officer living in Basel, Switzerland with a highly developed aesthetic sense and noble ambitions, his highest and most noble ambition, as it turns out, is taking on the role of comforter of the Jewish people. After enjoying two highly regarded Dutch novelists, Willem Frederik Hermans and Cees Nooteboom, I wanted to explore a contemporary Dutch author and came across Arnon Grunberg and his outrageous novel.
I thought I had been branching out after joining this site but I had really just played it close to home by going for pseudo-science over science fiction, pop bestselling fiction over epic fantasty, revisiting young adult fiction (although there are some new gems in that category, NOT Twilight), pop bestselling survival memoirs, miscellaneous library shelf culls...completely avoiding the huge huge huge universe of Literature. Like most American schoolchildren, I was forcefed a few of the acknowl ...more
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aaron Grunberg is a courageous writer, and The Jewish Messiah is a testament to his bravery. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered an author so ready both to challenge and antagonize readers.

The Jewish Messiah starts in farce-mode. Xavier Radek decides he wants to “comfort the Jews” and immerses himself into the Zionist culture, much to the annoyance of his hyperborean mother. He befriends (well, more than befriends) Awromele, the son of an “autistic” (at least to his long-suffering wife) rab
May 15, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Weinz by: David and Jon
I was recently sent a link to the "Stuff White People Like" blog. I started scanning the list with shock and horror. Marathons, Organic food, no TV, Tea, Yoga, Sushi, Public Radio, Grammar, CHRIST ON A JET SKI!!! I'M WHITE!!! and then in subsequent bookster threads regarding "hip or not hip" and avoidance of the hip I came to the shocking realization that not only am I whiter than white but I'm also not as original as I had thought. Wait, does this mean I have to get a moped and start wearing sk ...more
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Oriana by: David
Shelves: read-2008
(P.S. If you don't want to read my long and rambling review, you can read someone else's long and rambling [and much more coherent and specific] review here )

after: The blurb on this site calls The Jewish Messiah a "grotesque farce," which is pretty apt. With a strong emphasis on grotesque. I have never read a book with so much blood, so much insanity, so much sex, so much death and agony.

Honestly? This book really upset me at times. That's tough for me—a girl who believes she's so jaded, so o
Paul Bryant
Feb 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I'm thinking that this novel is an empty broken-taboo-strewn phantasmagoria of violent and sexual tableaux sprinkled into which we find much Kurt Vonnegut (the flat so-it-goes tone) and more than a smidgeon of Donald Barthelme (the idea of Christ returning as a testicle in a jar) and that whilst fun's fun, taking a few modishly grim aspects of modern life (paedophilia, computer games, sex slaves, self harming, falafel) and thinking up about a dozen catchphrases (e.g. loneliness is nothing to be ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
This book is not for the squeamish, and sadly, I am one of them. I had some very grim moments while reading this book. Think Coen Brothers level of violence, presented with a "well, what can you do about it" tone. Because, there is no meaning, only pain, in life. At least, as it's portrayed here.

The story follows a Swiss teenager named Xavier Radek, who, to honor his Nazi grandfather's legacy, decides to make his life work comforting the Jews. All around him is misery, people doing terrible thi
Books Ring Mah Bell
*bad word alert*

I really don't know how to rate this book. I just finished it and I'm sitting here thinking (probably waaaaayyyyy too hard) about it.
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book. I like it. I hate it. I just don't know.

*last chance to avoid naughty words!!!*

Never ever have I read a book with such complex, fucked up characters. Yes, I dropped the F bomb, you know why? Because they really were fucked up. Calling them screwed up, messed up, fascinating, or unique does not even begi
Feb 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Follow this link - - and you'll get the official summary. Go on, read it. I'll wait.

There. That's it: you've just read the book, essentially. The official publisher's summary tells the story from beginning to end, and the book simply fleshes it out. I know this sounds negative, but I mean don't mean it that way. The summary is honest and tells you exactly what you're getting into, from plot point A to plot point Z.

So now that you've "read" the story, let
Mikael Kuoppala
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one falls into the frustratingly-incomprehensible-yet-compelling –category. Weird oddness. Odd weirdness. That sort of stuff. I really can’t claim to know what this story aimed at, but I know that it’s been written really well. Grunberg crafts a tale of a man with an arguably twisted and unlikely way of perceiving the world with a narrative that floats above the realistic, Terry Gilliam style. I guess that “The Jewish Messiah” is in short a daringly raw and psychologically interesting satir ...more
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
There was a certain joy in completing this one, perhaps it was the sublime day outdoors, but I was elated to end this contrived rasher of shocking images. The novel shouldn't be considered a meditation, as such, instead, it was an excercise in excess. I didn't flinch, but I was annoyed.
Shiva Seven
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i felt like i was kicked in the chest with steel toe boots by a gay skinhead in a pink prom dress! fucked up read, but i just could not put it down!
Sep 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overbearing sarcastic tone. None of the characters, not a single one, is really sympathetic, yet it is somehow an interesting read.
Dirk Hennebel
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geestig op een macabere manier, of omgekeerd. Luchtig én misselijkmakend. Zeer te relativeren, want alle identiteiten worden gehekeld. Onmiskenbaar een page turner (qua stijl, structuur én verhaallijn), maar in de laatste 50 bladzijden worden de gespannen draden overhaast en naar mijn gevoel eerder ongeloofwaardig gebundeld.
Sweet Drop
Geçenlerde filmlerimi karıştırıp ne izleyeyim diye bakınırken elim Tirza filmine gitti. Sonra filmin bir kitap uyarlaması olduğunu keşfettim. Önce kitabını alıp okuyayım sonra filmini izlerim düşüncesi beni Arnon Grunberg ile tanıştırdı. Çok geç keşfettiğim bundan sonra peşinden gideceğim bir yazar oldu Arnon Grunberg.
Böyle özel kitapları bize sunan yayınevlerinin gözümde değeri bambaşka.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
amusing style of writing but somewhat tiresome plot.
JJ Marsh
Oct 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Growing up in Basel, Xavier Radek feels a calling. He needs a passion, he needs to commit to a cause, he wants to fight against the enemies of happiness. Like his grandfather, who served in the SS, who did not desert his post in the face of the danger, dying a hero’s death in Russian gunfire.
Xavier feels bad for the Jews and their suffering, so undertakes to comfort them. He decides to convert to Judaism, learn Yiddish and get circumcised. Awromele, the local rabbi’s son agrees to help him. The
TJM is a raucous exploration of neurotic Zionism, neurotic philanthropy, neurotic politics and neurotic love, and it attempts to chart these universals as neurotically as humanly possible. It is too lengthy, repetitious, and also slightly infantile in its description of some of the more disgusting quirks I have had the opportunity to read. There is a circumcision gone awry (it actually induced in me real, physical pain), a woman who performs sexualized acts with a kitchen knife, beatings and ora ...more
Jay Daze

"It's a fascinating book. It's got pace, it's got momentum, it's full of humor, and I think the writer has a story to tell. We've struck gold."

This is as good a review as I can give right now. That the above is one of the two main characters talking about Mein Kampf, which they are translating into Yiddish, gives you an idea of the tone. Biting satire, but satire kept in a disturbingly real, grounded reality. (Well grounded for the majority of the book. Grunberg slowly wound his characters up an
Aug 25, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I should have judged this book by its cover: I hated the picture, and after reading the inside jacket, I thought to myself that it was probably going to be an extremely odd book. I was right. Every character is severely dysfunctional. I felt depressed each time I put the book down. I imagined the plot as oil spill of psychosis. The spill originated from the central character, Xavier, and spread out in odd and uneven ways across countries and continents, covering new and interconnected characters ...more
Hanneke Römelingh
Als je de kleinzoon bent van een Nazi SS officier heb je natuurlijk wel war te verwerken. Sowieso voel je je misplaatst? schuldig. "Je wilt dan b.v. de Joden gaan troosten".
In Arnon Grunberg's "De joodse messias" kun je lezen hoe Xavier Radek dat gaat doen.
Niet iedereen houdt van Arnon's Grunberg's boeken. Ik denk doordat hij het nogal over rare mensen heeft, die zich gek gedragen en vreemd denken. "Wat moet je daar nu mee?" Hij schrijft goed en het boek leest vlot. Het is vooral ook vaak heel
Feb 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dutch
very nice book by one of Holland's contemporary top authors. It's about a teenager whose grandfather was a SS camp guard who wants to understand suffering and therefore decides to comfort the enemies of happiness: the Jews.

The first 250 pages or so are hilariously funny (the scene in the sauna where his parents are exposing the dubious past of his grandfather, him deciding to translate Mein Kampf into Jiddish, him getting circumcised at age 17 by a half blind old amateur cheese selling Jew and s
May 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extremely bizarre, blackest of dark comedies and written by a Dutchman. The story of a young Swiss man whose grandfather was an especially diligent and active SS member has an epiphany that he shall become "the comforter of the Jews." The idea alone is bizarre enough by itself but also take into account that he and his family do not think killing the jews in WWII was really that bad and that his idea of comforting begins with befriending a Rabi's son who eventually becomes his gay lover with a w ...more
Michael Flick
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Savage satire: no ox ungored, no ax unground, erasing all the boundaries between Judaism and fascism. Disturbing, much like speeding down the freeway, suddenly traffic slows to a crawl and everyone gawks at the accident on the side of the road. This isn't Grunberg at his best, when he magically pulls you into character, time and place--for that, read "The Story of My Baldness" or "Blue Mondays." Here there's a kind of bitterness that leaves a bad taste in your mouth--at least figuratively if not ...more
Hendrik Dejonckheere
Een verhaal geschreven in een afstandelijke stijl waardoor de absurditeiten als een stripverhaal aan je voorbijtrekken zonder echt emotie op te wekken. Het lijkt wel of Grunberg in één boek met alle clichés van het jodendom en de staat Israël af wil rekenen zonder zich al te zeer in te spannen. De sfeer van seksuele aberraties maakt het echt moeilijk om het boek tot op het laatst geconcentreerd te blijven lezen De Jiddische vertaling van "Mein Kampf" had als basisidee een beter plot verdiend. Af ...more
Ik geef bewust geen waardering voor het boek.
Het boek kent geweldige stukken waar je verder wilt en moet lezen zonder het weg te leggen (fijn ook als je laat op de avond denkt: laat ik nog even een stukje lezen).
Het boek kent ook mindere stukken, waar het eerder als een verplichting voelt om door te zetten.

Wat ik over het verhaal moet zeggen weet ik niet. Aan de ene kant vind ik het heel goed verzonnen, aan de andere kant heb ik er ook zo mijn twijfels over.

"Ik weet niet wat ik er van vind" is o
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grunberg's pessimistische grote wereldvisie, hier verpakt in een uitbarsting van geweld en sex, is mij iets te gortig. Maar schrijven kan de man wel. Het gedeelte tot en met Amsterdam valt ook nog te lezen als een vrij stuitende, absurdistische psychologische roman. Daarna wekt het boek de indruk te zijn afgeraffeld. Materiaal genoeg voor een cyclus a la AFTh, maar Grunberg moest op naar het volgende boek.
I moved this to postponed but I doubt that I will ever go back to it. At first I tried to go with it's scatological, macabre farce; it was okay, didn't love it. But the further I got (and according to my Kindle I only got one-third in) the more disgusted I became. I truly see no redeeming qualities in this novel. It's a shame- I was hoping to discover a good Dutch author whose works I could dig into. Helaas, this was not the case. I may try another Grunberg but I won't hold out much hope.
Rebekka Van straalen
At least for the first part of the book, I think it was worth 5/5. The characters were very alive, they were bizarre entities with only happy thoughts, even though horrible things did happen. They all had a kind of passive insanity over themselves.
But then Grunberg added the Egyptian, wich slowed down the fluid narrative. The story of the Egyptian really didn't add value to the whole, it was just adding more insanity, wich, for me, had no need to be added.
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Arnon Yasha Yves (Arnon) Grunberg is a Dutch writer. Some of his books were written using the heteronym Marek van der Jagt.

In 1989 Grunberg made his acting debut in Maria's Cunt (de Kut van Maria); a short film by Dutch enfant terrible filmmaker Cyrus Frisch.

Grunberg made his literary debut in 1994 with the novel Blauwe maandagen (Blue Mondays), which won the Dutch prize for the best debut novel t
More about Arnon Grunberg...