Monday, March 29, 2010

Perks of Working in a Bookstore

I don't remember where I heard about this mammoth of a book--Witz by Joshua Cohen--but I do know that it peaked my interest; I subsequently ordered a copy for myself, and have been anticipating its May release. As I was speaking with my manager this afternoon, I noticed he had a review copy on his desk. I expressed my interest in it, and he kindly handed it over. It kind of made my day. It's always nice when you get something you want, and it comes at no cost to you.

From Dalkey Archive Press:
On Christmas Eve 1999, all the Jews in the world die in a strange, millennial plague, with the exception of the firstborn males, who are soon adopted by a cabal of powerful people in the American government. By the following Passover, however, only one is still alive: Benjamin Israelien; a kindly, innocent, ignorant man-child. As he finds himself transformed into an international superstar, Jewishness becomes all the rage: matzo-ball soup is in every bowl, sidelocks are hip; and the only truly Jewish Jew left is increasingly stigmatized for not being religious. Since his very existence exposes the illegitimacy of the newly converted, Israelien becomes the object of a worldwide hunt...

Meanwhile, in the not-too-distant future of our own, "real" world, another last Jew—the last living Holocaust survivor—sits alone in a snowbound Manhattan, providing a final melancholy witness to his experiences in the form of the punch lines to half-remembered jokes.

Also, the title, Witz, is Yiddish for 'joke'.

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