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The Gift of Asher Lev

(Asher Lev)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  6,783 ratings  ·  397 reviews
" Rivals anything Chaim Potok has ever produced. It is a book written with passion about passion. You're not likely to read anything better this year."
Twenty years have passed for Asher Lev. He is a world-renowned artist living in France, still uncertain of his artistic direction. When his beloved uncle dies suddenly, Asher and his family rush back t
Mass Market Paperback, 359 pages
Published June 30th 1991 by Fawcett Crest (first published 1990)
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Acting Into a New Way of Thinking

“What a person does is what he is,” says the father of Asher Lev. This is the central theme of Potok’s book and, in a sense, it is the essence of Judaism. How one acts, one’s ethical impact on the world, describes everything that is relevant about a person. ‘Deeds not words’ may seem a mere shibboleth until it as taken as seriously as it is by the Hasidim for whom even the smallest and apparently trivial human act - entering a room, switching on a light, greeting one’s spo/>“What
Jan 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book before I even had time to add it to my "Currently Reading" list. There will never be enough Potok in my life.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chaim-potok
When I started this installment from Mr. Potok, the room where I read it was naturally dry.

Line by line, chapter by chapter, I survived the frissons of emotion. And at some point, I acquiesced. By the end of the tale, I became sober in my instability and I allowed the sorrow that has always resided uncomfortably within, to flow with abandon.

We have read a few authors in his phalanx, whose pens not only release ink and words, but somehow create an internal disturbance, even in
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoilers for My Name is Asher Lev and this book below.

Does God have a plan or are we at the mercy of an uncaring universe where bad things happen to good people? The question of whether or not the universe is ordered permeates this book, though in a rather subtle way. The book doesn't actually provide an answer to this question, but this question weighs on the minds of the characters as their world becomes more uncertain.

I'm not going to lie, I thought the ending of My Name Is Asher
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful complex novel about individuality vs the community, with religion, art, family and depression all thrown in the mix. That, and mesmerising prose. Potok, you legend.
Nov 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book. I think everyone one who has read My Name is Asher Lev should read this book. It took me all summer to read, basically because it is the kind of book that you linger over. I savored reading it, and really didn't want to finish. Not only are the chapters beautifully written, but the storyline balances out the difficulties Asher faced in his youth. This is twenty years later, when he has a wife and 2 children, and is now returning to the U.S. It is about redemption, hope, and su ...more
Jennifer Spiegel
I’m going to give away the end, so you may need to stop reading. But it’s the end I want to talk about.

First, I adored the earlier book, My Name is Asher Lev (1972). I think it is, without exaggeration, a profound statement on the integrity of the artist. Second, everyone told me that the sequel, The Gift of Asher Lev (1990), wasn’t very good. Well, it wasn’t as good as the first, but it wasn’t that bad, either. I still found it absorbing, worth reading, and very interesting. Generally speaking
Doug Bradshaw
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**SPOILER ALERT ** This review talks about some of the main plot lines in the book.

These books are full of excellent symbolism, from Asher's crucifixion paintings connoting the suffering of especially his mother but perhaps of the whole Jewish community, to his picture of Abraham with Isaac, Isaac actually being sacrificed. I think about Asher's father being full of rage seeing the pictures, and I think of a man who hasn't learned much in life, unable to understand anything except ex
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book, because I loved 'My Name is Asher Lev.' Unfortunately, this book just wasn't nearly up to snuff. To begin with, nothing happens. Asher, the main character, in particular is static. The entire book he has painter's block, so he just mopes around as is depressed. A large portion of the book is also flashbacks (which in the case of his wife are sometimes pretty interesting and touching--her character is a good new one to get to know) or else Asher's intuition abou ...more
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Summary: Asher Lev, exiled from a Brooklyn Hasidic community over a scandalous artwork portraying crucifixion, returns after twenty years with his family for the funeral of his uncle, only to find that he is being called upon to make a far greater sacrifice than the pain of exile.

I first became acquainted with the work of Chaim Potok in the 1980's. His novels were set in the Ladover Hasidic Jwish community of New York. One of these was My Name is Asher Lev and describes the awakening of a Jew
Rachel Aranda
It was nice seeing what happened after the first Asher Lev book. In my opinion, this book wasn't as good as the first. The biggest issue I had was that Asher Lev didn't fight more to let his son be able to choose his own path since that is what he himself had to do. That being said I understand that this would be a great honor for the family and it would be great for Asher to gain the affection that he lost from the Hasidic community.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a reread. I've been so desperate for good books this winter and have read so few and this is a good book. This is full of oh so many religious themes, and the question of what we give and what we hold back. I always find Jewish thinking although different from my own, a kind of parallel universe where the logic makes sense. I'm glad to enter again into a world of these questions.
Alli Lubin
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well crafted and satisfying but not quite as engaging as his earlier work, "My Name is Asher Lev" which was one of my all-time favorite books when I read it as a teenager. The subject of being Jewish in today's world is always thought-provoking and brings up so many memories and issues close to my heart that anything by Chaim Potok is a treasure.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

After revisiting My Name Is Asher Lev and finding it a disappointing experience, I don't know why I decided to read this second volume. It took some strength of character to finish it, too (or do I mean stubbornness?). I found myself trudging through the final 30 pages just to be done with it.

The 1990s saw the advent of the Age of the Remake in films, TV, followon fiction etc., and this book reads like one. Asher Lev (who is still called by his full name by a startling number of his fri
Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read Chaim Potok's books when I was 13 and I received The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev from my Hebrew school teacher as a bat mitzvah present. I remember coming home from the ceremony and the celebration and how I was so happy to be alone and read these books.

Now, when collective Judaism is very hard for me to connect to, I enjoyed entering into Chaim Potok's description of an individual's struggle between himself as an individual and himself as a member of a strong and deep religiou
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-related
The strength of Potok is the honesty and depth to his characters and their communities. In his stories of the Ladovers there is beauty and love, anger and disappointment, hope and despair. One feels like they have truly stepped into this world of the Hasid, which for me is at once alien and familiar. In some ways, I feel like Asher: I am connected to this world, but not part of it. Asher of course is a part of the Hasidic world, buy he is in a kind of exile within it. Asher's duality here allows ...more
My favorite book of all time is My Name Is Asher Lev. I adore it. It speaks truth into my life every time I read it.

The Gift of Asher Lev is also a life-giving book to me. I adore Chaim Potok's writing, and I appreciate the way he continues the story of Asher's life in this book. I can't figure out where to begin to spill all my thoughts and feelings about this book. It may be over dramatic, but I feel that The Gift completes My Name in the way Asher speaks of things needing to be co
Jason Shatkin
Mar 10, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Potok wrote this book 5 years after his last book. He should have stayed in retirement. Aside of being overly descriptive in meaningless scenery, Potoks book is obsessed with Art, yet never developed anything. I felt that no part of the story was settled and was an incredible waste of my time.
Examples are his uncles art collection. "Oh. Just keep it in storage"?? Really??? It's destroying his family and just keep it in storage???

Asher lev gave a picture to his son as a gift. And that was suppo
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Read this after recently rereading My Name is Asher Lev. This book is also challenging but in the end more satisfying, I think. I'm still uncomfortable with it, but was completely mesmerized by this story. I just could not put it down. One of the most compelling novels I've read. I knew the ending--it seemed inescapable throughout most of the book. Stunning and heartbreaking with a tiny winking light of hope peeking through. It was like the entire world changed colors as I read this book.
Jan 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved these two books but like many others felt let down with the rushed ending. You know what is going to happen in the end but more could definitely have been added...some resolutions of the mind and relationships of Asher. This book made me think about compromise for the good of all involved...The need for acceptance even though you don't condone the actions. A great story of the need for balance in all areas of life and to forgive and love unconditionaly.
Rebekah stefaniuk
I am always skeptical about sequels, but this one was amazing. I would say I liked this one even better than My name is Asher Lev. Asher's a bit older and has a family in this one, so his issues are different. There is a mystery woven throughout this novel pertaining to a riddle that the rabbi shares at Asher's uncle's death. A really great book. Highly recommended.
Katie Wahlquist
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I didn't like it as much as My Name is Asher Lev, but as I got going, I LOVED it! It was an interesting look at sacrifice. Great books, wonderful author.
Ashley ❣️
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this so much but the ending left me wanting more, im so sad their isn’t a third book but this was a good conclusion to Asher Lev’s story and I really loved it
May 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this even more than My Name is Asher Lev. I am not quite sure where to begin. This is my third Potok book in about a month, and I continue to get absorbed in his writing style in such a real way that I find myself thinking about the book and characters throughout the day and into the evening.

I wondered for some of the book if there was any possibility of truth to Asher's character, or if it was heavily stereotyped. Sad, lonely, selfish artist forced to choose between art and his family,
Laura (Book Scrounger)
This was a fine sequel to My Name Is Asher Lev. It deals with similar themes (the tension between religion and art, family and religion, etc.), and Asher's "voice" is similar, though he's more mature now at 45.

Twenty years after he painted the crucifixions, Asher returns to Brooklyn with his family after the death of his Uncle Yitzchok. They plan to stay only a few weeks, but the visit becomes a month, and then another, and Asher's creative drought only worsens.

I thought the
Sooho Lee
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Gift of Asher Lev is a fitting sequel to My Name is Asher Lev. 

Nearly 20 years after My Name, Asher Lev, exiled Hasid artist, thrives in France. His name is among contemporary greats, listed with Picasso and Jacob Kahn. He is married to Devorah and has two beautiful kids, Rochelah and Avrumel. His exile is home. But two events in sharp succession throw Asher into Ambiguity: vicious criticism of his most recent exhibition and the death of his beloved Uncle Yitzchok. In one swoop,
Aug 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book's predecessor, My Name is Asher Lev, there is much struggle in Asher's mind between following his strict religion & community or breaking away and painting what he sees in the world, even if goes against his religion. In The Gift of Asher Lev there is only a little of this struggle. The main struggle is with his family--where should they live? What will become of the children? What will his father do when the Rebbe dies? What does his wife really want?

A lot of the te
Apr 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the sequel to "My Name is Asher Lev." Asher is now married and grown up with children of his own. He is a successful artist, but finds himself trying to recover after a show in Paris where the critics weren't so pleased with his work. His uncle in Brooklyn passes away and he takes his family to New York for the funeral and mourning. His wife, Devorah, lost her parents as a child and she finds herself enjoying the family and community in Brooklyn. They end up extending their 10 day trip m ...more
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't quite explain why, but I had a harder time reading this book than the first. It was the reading equivalent to walking around waist deep in syrup. It's hard to do, but syrup is delicious? Yeah... Yeah that totally makes sense. Potok does a fantastic job again of creating an image of the characters surroundings as you read, but there was almost too much of it, and not enough content. I suppose that's the Chaim Potok way though. He's the master at eloquently writing about seemingly nothing, ...more
Apr 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Even though I'm usually skeptical of sequels, I recall pouncing on this when I first saw it. I love how Potok brings greater depth to an already complex and lovable character. In many ways this book surpassed its predecessor for me. Asher Lev's return to NY brings new opportunities to heal old rifts. Ironically, as he finds the means within himself to narrow those gaps, he creates a new wound that ultimately renews everyone ... including himself. Gut-wrenching and beautiful.
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Herman Harold Potok, or Chaim Tzvi, was born in Buffalo, New York, to Polish immigrants. He received an Orthodox Jewish education. After reading Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited as a teenager, he decided to become a writer. He started writing fiction at the age of 16. At age 17 he made his first submission to the magazine The Atlantic Monthly. Although it wasn't published, he received a n ...more

Other books in the series

Asher Lev (2 books)
  • My Name Is Asher Lev
“Art begins . . . when someone interprets, when someone sees the world through his own eyes. Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it.” 62 likes
“Truth has to be given in riddles. People can't take truth if it comes charging at them like a bull. The bull is always killed. You have to give people the truth in a riddle, hide it so they go looking for it and find it piece by piece; that way they learn to live with it.” 56 likes
More quotes…