Isaac's Torah Paperback by Angel Wagenstein

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Isaac's Torah Paperback by Angel Wagenstein

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Product Details

  • Publisher: Other Press (2022-10-25)
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • ISBN-13: 9781635423716
  • Item Weight: 300.51 grams
  • Dimensions: 8.05 x 5.28 x 0.84 cm

This novel is the saga in five parts of Isaac Jacob Blumenfeld, who grows up in Kolodetz, a small town near Lvov, which, when he’s a boy, belongs to the Hapsburg Empire, but which subsequently belongs to Poland, Soviet Russia, Germany, and then Russia again. Isaac survives the absurdity and horror of Eastern Europe during the 20th century by pretending to be a fool. If this is an old Jewish art, then Isaac is a consummate artist. He plays the fool all his life, from his boyhood in Kolodetz shetl to the time when he is an accused war criminal in a Gulag in Siberia.

Inseparable from Isaac’s life and story are the Yiddish jokes and fables of Kolodetz. These and the counsel of his dear friend, the rabbi and chair of the atheist club in Kolodetz, Shmuel Ben David, sustain Isaac through two world wars, three concentration camps, and five motherlands. The book puts on record, with full art, what is perhaps the central story of the last one hundred years. It is a wise book.

About the Author

Angel Wagenstein is a Bulgarian screenwriter and author. His film Stars, shot in 1959 by the German director Konrad Wolf, was awarded the Special Prize of the Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. His fiction includes the triptych of novels Isaac’s Torah, Far from Toledo, and Farewell, Shanghai, which have been published in French, German, Russian, English, Czech, Polish, Macedonian, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and other languages. Farewell, Shanghai received the Jean Monnet Prize of European literature in 2004, and in 2022 was adapted into a six-episode television series directed by Radu Mihăileanu. Wagenstein is a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Mérite and a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Elizabeth Frank is a Professor of Modern Languages and Literature at Bard College.

Deliana Simeonova was born in Bulgaria and studied English philology and American literature at the University of Sofia. She has worked for civil-society NGOs in Tajikistan, Serbia, Liberia, and now does that work in her native Bulgaria.

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