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The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  7,481 ratings  ·  260 reviews
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz is the novel that established Mordecai Richler as one of the world’s best comic writers. Growing up in the heart of Montreal’s Jewish ghetto, Duddy Kravitz is obsessed with his grandfather’s saying, “A man without land is nothing.” In his relentless pursuit of property and his drive to become a somebody, he will wheel and deal, he will s ...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published November 1st 1989 by New Canadian Library (first published 1959)
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3.71  · 
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 ·  7,481 ratings  ·  260 reviews

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I threw the book across the room when I finished.
Richler writes about Montreal the way Dickens writes about London: as if the city was a character. He loved Montreal and he is preaching to the choir with me, because I am crazy about my city as well, and I wish I could have seen it at the time "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz" takes place, the post-WWII era when hockey players didn't wear helmets but everyone wore hats. I love getting lost in a story taking place in the city my grandparents knew and lived in. I love descriptions of the stre ...more
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Duddy Kravitz is a self centered sneak, a thief, a con-artist, a scheister and thoroughly detestable character- but I love him. A Jewish kid growing up in Montreal during world war two, in a motherless family and mostly left to his own devices, Duddy Kravitz is basically a decent human being, deep down inside, somewhere I’m sure there’s a modicum of decency.

Duddy’s grandfather once tells him that ‘a man without land is nobody’, Duddy takes this to heart and when he finds the property of his dre
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favourite thing about Richler is that he expands my practical vocabulary: thanks to him, I can exhort friends to "Be a mensch!", I can call my girlfriend a "shiksa", I can refer to anyone other than myself as "you white people". It's great. And I'm not even Jewish! Another thing that's fun about Richler, which I think is also the reason why his books can be found on my parents' shelves: Canadian-Jewish society seems pretty Easterneuropean. The meddling, the gossiping, the intellectuocultural ...more
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan Baxter
Sep 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a reread, slowly, over the last month or so. I am not sure what to say about it. I can't say it's my absolutely favourite Mordecai Richler - Solomon Gursky Was Here is probably that. However, it's certainly up there as an accomplishment, if not exactly a pleasure. Duddy is one of Richler's great anti-heroes, and because he is so thoroughly that, it makes him difficult to write about.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement.
Jake Goretzki
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
An entertaining coming-of-age, North American immigrant tale, with a well drawn, lovably roguish, morally wobbly protagonist. I enjoyed it, yet it felt instantly familiar, y'know? Maybe it's the Saul Bellow territory...young man on the make, etc; cast of spivs and strivers; the smell of fried liver. Or even Phillip Roth or Updike. I slip into the same mode. I love them.

It's something that often happens when I read north American novels of the fifties and sixties: everything goes Instagram filte
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Mordecai Richler read but certainly not my last. Really snappy prose and dialogue, and a very enthralling plot. Despite being written nearly 60 years ago, the character of Duddy Kravitz feels like he would fit right into a modern prestige dramas on HBO, and his whole arc is very satisfying. Really interesting to get some historical takes on what Montreal was like in the early 50s as well.
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Mordecai Richler tells the tale of Duddy -- a young Jew from a poor, 1940s Montreal St. Urbain Street neighbourhood. Duddy is a complicated character. He has a rough-and-tumble childhood, acts out in school, and becomes a n'er-do-well and sort of gang leader, who few expect to succeed, unlike his 'gifted' older brother, Lennie. Duddy doesn't receive the same love and affection from his father or wealthy uncle that Lennie receives, and only his grandfather,
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man without land indeed,
Dani (The Pluviophile Writer)
A boy can be two, three, four potential people, but a man is only one. He murders the others.”
4/5 stars.
Read from January 23, 2018 to February 4, 2018.

Review at The Pluviophile Writer:

A Canadian classic; there are not many books that embody a French-Canadian setting and receive as much praise and success as this one did, especially with a protagonist as despicable as Duddy.

Saying that Duddy Kravitz is ambitious is an understatement.  After taking to heart what his g
Caleb Hoyer
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s shocking to me that this novel was published in 1959. It feels just as unflinching and edgy as something that would be published today. The main character is about as “anti-” as a hero gets, and yet I couldn’t help but root for him to get his land and become a somebody. His questionable tactics and actions don’t go unchallenged by the author or the other characters, but it never veers into a preachy moral fable. It’s messy and hilarious, but you can’t help but admire Duddy’s tenacity and – ...more
Sep 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish, canada
Sometimes achieving the American dream requires a Faustian bargain. Brilliantly told story about a poor Jewish lad who is determined to own land and become a success... at any cost. Yes, he's a conniving user of people, but you end up rooting for him too. I would imagine the moral, emotional and financial struggles he experiences are a fair representation of what many entrepreneurs go through.

Highly recommended!
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful, witty and sharply observed.
Dan Schwent
Duddy Kravitz, a Canadian Jew, scrambles to make something of himself. Not bad. I want to see the movie starring Richard Dreyfuss.
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
Mordecai Richler was a giant of Canadian lit, some people said. Most people also said he was a complete and utter asshole. A few chapters in on audio, those asshole vibes were starting to gather force in the story, so I read the plot summary on Wikipedia and decided to bail. This is a Canadian classic I do not need to read. Maybe a Canadian writer I can skip, too, although I hear his Barney's Version is good.
Alison Quigley
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s not what you achieve but how you achieve it...salutory ending. If the start feels difficult, please persevere. It takes flight about page one hundred and the altitude keeps climbing. For writers there is a terrific lesson here in how to keep a reader entranced when the main character is morally dubious.
It’s not that this is a bad book. It’s well written. But Duddy is such a little shit of a character that it made it hard to enjoy the story.
Ari Dublion
My mom can stop saying I don't do anything Jewish. But I was doing something Canadian, see?
Carl R.
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it turns out I’ve missed out too long on another rightfully-renowned author. I’d never heard of the late (2001) Mordecai Richler or The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz until my Canadian son-in-law gifted me with some north-or-the-border classics the Christmas. I wrote of the first reading on the list recently (October 10) and was not so favorably impressed with Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind. But, ah, Richler is another, as they say, story. You can bet I’ll be back for more.
Kravitz wa
Jun 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe Montreal was a different place in the late 1940s/50s when young Duddy Kravitz was taking on the world. A poor, motherless Jewish boy, he had big dreams; most of all he wanted to fulfill his grandfather's mantra: "a man without land is nothing." In order to do so, he knew no bounds. Nothing would or could stop him in his quest for money and power. In the wake of his brash single-mindedness he leaves the detritus of his actions: the teacher's disabled wife who dies trying to get to the phone ...more
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This is the first of several books by Canadian authors in my formative growing-up years. This is Richler's best known book and was even made into a fairly good movie starring a young Richard Dreyfus. The story tells the tale of Duddy Kravitz, a young jewish boy growing up in Montreal during and after World War 2. The jewish community was the predominant culture in non-french speaking quarters of Montreal and this self-contained quarter of the city had rules and procedures not found anywhere else ...more
I was more disappointed in this book than I expected. It followed an ambitious Jewish boy from high school through adulthood, and it went through disappointments and dreams.
My own problems with this book: I found few redeeming qualities in the main character; the only character with whom I felt I could relate was not covered well enough for me to actually relate with her; I wasn't sure what the overall goal of the book was. I liked the girlfriend, but it wasn't a book about her, it was a book ab
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is fast paced, vulgar, funny, and human. This is a story of ambition run amok - a precocious upstart trying to satiate his obsessive perception of success. Duddy's particular obsession is the phrase that "a man without land is nobody!" with which Richler creates a fascinating (realistic, albeit despicable) character. There were a few redeeming moments, but most of the time I just wanted to strangle Duddy... in fact, my feelings for Duddy alternated between wanting to strangle him and t ...more
Kat Hagedorn
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction

I wasn't so certain about picking this book to read. The most prevalent comment among other readers was that it was hard to love the character-- he's just such a slimy bastard, there isn't much to love about him.

That didn't seem to be the point to me, though. I thought it was a unique portrayal of Judaism and the Jewish people of that time and in that place (1950s Montreal). A lot about what they struggled against (racism on both sides, inadvertent or not), hoped for (a
Florin Andrei
Apr 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
It has a cultural meaning to a boy from Montreal. My history professor in CEGEP recommended it and it has been on my to-read list for the past five or six years.

A co-worker saw me reading it at work, an English major, and he remarked that he had studied that. Why, or how, I cannot decipher. It's a good story, humorous and witty, but I could not see anything there that made me think this is a book to study. Maybe from a historical point of view, like, this is th
Andrew Hecht
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself rooting for the Jewish anti-hero Duddy Kravitz despite the fact that he's a swindling low-life self-centered jerk. His ambition is infectious and the multi-generational story of his family, quite heart-warming.
Maria Stevenson
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Kravitz is a delightful delicacy of a book, all its crudeness notwithstanding. I'm guessing TAODK already had a sense of nostalgia when Richler wrote it in the late 1950's, so that now, in 2018, there is, to borrow a term from baking powder lingo, a double acting nostalgia at play. It comes off as quite authentic; the crackling dialogue full of Jewish sayings is hilarious. The entire novel reads like a play or screenplay.
In the first section I found our protagonist D
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Basically, toxic masculinity before toxic masculinity was a thing.

The pacing kind of felt uneven, but I guess this was one of Richler's early works. I hated almost all the people in this book, and it was only the authenticity of the setting, and the few brief glimpses of decency that tricked me into thinking this was a redemption story, that kept me reading it. I really wanted Virgil and Yvette to shack up, keep Duddy's land, and leave that jackass out to dry.

... that being said, a couple of qu
Kyle Johnson
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If Woody Allen had written and directed There Will Be Blood, it would likely resemble The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.

The themes I took away: self deprecation, the amorality of capitalism, & throw-away Jewishness.
Duddy Kravitz is entirely unlikeable but somehow charming because of his naivety. He ruins the lives of the people around him while simultaneously destroying himself. However, he doesn't realize there's a problem, so his exploits continue even after the final page of his story.
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Mordecai Richler was a Canadian author, screenwriter and essayist.

His best known works are The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959) and Barney's Version (1997); his 1989 novel Solomon Gursky Was Here was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1990. He was also well known for the Jacob Two-Two children's stories. .

The son of a Jewish scrap yard dealer, Richler was born in 1931 and raised on St.
“A boy can be two, three, four potential people, but a man is only one. He murders the others.” 6 likes
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