As waves of industrialism and capitalism flood the city, the brothers and their families are torn apart by the clashing impulses of old piety and new skepticism, traditional ways and burgeoning appetites, and the hatred that grows between faiths, citizens, and classes. Despite all attempts to control their destinies, the brothers are caught up by forces of history, love, and fate, which shape and, ultimately, break them.
First published in 1936, The Brothers Ashkenazi quickly became a best-seller as a sprawling family saga. Breaking away from the introspective shtetl tales of classic 19th-century writers, I. J. Singer brought to Yiddish literature the multilayered plots, large casts of characters, and narrative sweep of the traditional European novel. Walking alongside such masters as Zola, Flaubert, and Tolstoy, I. J. Singer’s pre-modernist social novel stands as a masterpiece of storytelling.
Israel Joshua Singer (1893–1944)was born in Bilgoraj, Poland, the son of a rabbi. He contributed to Yiddish newspapers in Warsaw and Kiev, where his short story, “Pearls,” was published, which brought him immediate recognition. He came to the United States in 1934, and within two years The Brothers Ashkenazi was published, a work that was not only an instant success but was also destined to become a classic in its time.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Janes Mesam on 26-07-15
One of my favorites
What made the experience of listening to The Brothers Ashkenazi the most enjoyable?
The book brings to life the Jewish life in Poland more than a century ago. But beyond this, it is also a cautionary tale about greed and ambition and their consequences.
Any additional comments?
It's a book I can listen to time and again. Both story and performance are top notch.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lisa on 02-01-13
Historical fiction at its finest
The story of three generations of the Ashkenazi family and set in 19th and 20th Eastern Europe, its themes are specific to that time and place, yet also universal. Illuminates the clash between traditional Judaism and the Jewish enlightenment, orthodoxy and progress, capitalism and workers rights, accepting the world as it is and risking your life to change it.
Good narration, with the exception of mangling some of the Yiddish.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
By Paul Z. on 30-11-10
What a great book! Looking at reviews this book seems often to be pigeonholed as a book by a Jew and about Jews almost implying that it is for Jews. This is a great travesty. That’s like saying Crime and Punishment is by a Russian and for Russians, or Ulysses is by the Irish and for the Irish. This is a wonderful book about greed, oppression, and men pushed to the limits of life. Some parts are heavy and dark, some tender and loving, and often laced with bits of humor. I don’t think anyone will truly like the Ashkenazi’s, but I for one respect them in the same way as the protagonist of other great works. It will forever be in my group of favorite books.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful