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Hope Less

In Shalom Auslander’s new novel, the protagonist tries to wean himself of optimism while doing battle with the freeloader in his attic: Anne Frank

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What if the Holocaust’s most famous victim hadn’t died in Bergen-Belsen but had continued living in hiding, moving furtively from attic to attic, until she found herself a perch in a house in upstate New York? That’s the premise of Hope: A Tragedy, the new novel by Shalom Auslander. It follows Solomon Kugel, the owner of the house, who discovers an ancient, haggard Anne Frank upstairs struggling to finish a follow-up to her famous diary. Kugel is put-upon; his marriage is strained, he flails at work, and his mother, who lives with him, is obsessed with Jewish persecution and pretends that she herself was a victim of the Nazis. In addition, Kugel is in ongoing conversation with a guru who posits that nothing good ever comes of optimism.

The novel, Auslander’s first, is both entertaining and disconcerting and Auslander, a Tablet columnist, joins Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry to discuss German tourguides, Palestinian cabdrivers, and the pros and cons of living with hope. (To buy tickets to see Auslander discuss the novel in person on January 25 in San Francisco, click here.) Warning: The interview includes explicit language. [Running time: 20:51.] 

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ralph melnick says:

Is there no end to the misuse of Anne Frank?
Isn’t there a better way for authors and publishers to sell books?

M Harris says:

After listening to most Vox Tablet podcasts about books I come away wanting to read the book, but not this one. I hope the author writes better than he speaks – every fourth word out of his mouth was “f*ckin’.”

Auslander makes no secret of his loathing of his Jewish past and his family. So far he’s managed to make a living off of it. I’m sure this book will be a big hit among the NYC Jewish secular anti-Jewish crowd. Personally I find his stuff not very imaginative, juvenile and not particularly well written.

Steven says:

Shameless hate-filled, narcissist and phony who will say anything to get attention and sell books. And you folks are complicit in this charade. Get wise to this con man, please. The book, which I’ve read, is as infantile as is this dialogue. Strictly for self-loathing Upper West Siders and the East Coast literati who have been taken in by this hoax. zzzzzz

another Goldstein says:

if only it were just a zzz, Steven. But it is a scary example of the growing trend towards Holocaust derision. Reviewed recently by Maslin of the NYT, and chosen as an “editor’s pick” by the Times, this book by Auslander lulls people into thinking its ok to make jokes about jews turned into soap, etc.- it’s ironic, its humor, so its ok! And the reviewer and the author are both Jewish, so it must be ok, right? Maslin cedes that the book is “designed to offend some people”..right. like Jewish people. The protagonist, surname Kugel, is a nebbishy loser. If the test for antisemitism is changing the names/groups and seeing if it still flies- try this. A novel about a man named Chitlin that jokes about lynchings, slavery, is reviewed by a black person who says its” designed to offend some”…but so what! Not happening. Dropping these taboos,Auslanders’ irreverance about the Holocaust, is hurtful to many, and it encourages antisemitism. The NYTimes this week reported on the inclusion of Hitler’s flatware in a new exhibit at the NYHistorical Society..they have had the silver since 1946, first time exhibiting it. The Times included two close-up photographs of Hitlers fork and knife. So even if you wanted to skip going to an exhibit of Nazi memorabilia that hasn’t been deemed decent to show until now (why now?) ..you still had to see it close up in the Times. Offensive? Insensitive?

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Hope Less

In Shalom Auslander’s new novel, the protagonist tries to wean himself of optimism while doing battle with the freeloader in his attic: Anne Frank

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