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Foreskin's Lament

by

Foreskin's Lament Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Shalom Auslander was raised with a terrified respect for God. Even as he grew up and was estranged from his community, his religion and its traditions, he could not find his way to a life where he didn't struggle against God daily. Foreskin's Lament reveals Auslander's youth in a strict, socially isolated Orthodox community, and recounts his rebellion and efforts to make a new life apart from it. Auslander remembers his youthful attempt to win the blessing bee (the Orthodox version of a spelling bee), his exile to an Orthodox-style reform school in Israel after he's caught shoplifting Union Bay jeans from the mall, and his fourteen mile hike to watch the New York Rangers play in Madison Square Garden without violating the Sabbath. Throughout, Auslander struggles to understand God and His complicated, often contradictory laws. He tries to negotiate with God and His representatives-a day of sin-free living for a day of indulgence, a blessing for each profanity. But ultimately, Shalom settles for a peaceful cease-fire, a standoff with God, and accepts the very slim remaining hope that his newborn son might live free of guilt, doubt, and struggle. Auslander's combination of unrelenting humor and anger — one that draws comparisons to memoirists David Sedaris and Dave Eggers — renders a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith, family, and community.

Review:

"'Auslander, a magazine writer, describes his Orthodox Jewish upbringing as 'theological abuse' in this sardonic, twitchy memoir that waits for the other shoe to drop from on high. The title refers to his agitation over whether to circumcise his soon to be born son, yet another Jewish ritual stirring confusion and fear in his soul. Flitting haphazardly between expectant-father neuroses in Woodstock, N.Y., and childhood neuroses in Monsey, N.Y., Auslander labors mightily to channel Philip Roth with cutting, comically anxious spiels lamenting his claustrophobic house, off-kilter family and the temptations of all things nonkosher, from shiksas to Slim Jims. The irony of his name, Shalom (Hebrew for 'peace'), isn't lost on him, a tormented soul gripped with dread, fending off an alcoholic, abusive father while imagining his heavenly one as a menacing, mocking, inescapable presence. Fond of tormenting himself with worst-case scenarios, he concludes, 'That would be so God.' Like Roth's Portnoy, he commits minor acts of rebellion and awaits his punishment with youthful literal-mindedness. But this memoir is too wonky to engage the reader's sympathy or cut free Auslander's persona from the swath of stereotype — and he can't sublimate his rage into the cultural mischief that brightens Roth's oeuvre. That said, a surprisingly poignant ending awaits readers.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"It is a curious fact that some of the most celebrated grandees of Jewish American literature — Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Norman Mailer — never bothered much in their books with the habitual features of religious life. For a variety of reasons, whatever is considered Jewish about these writers' works has little to do with synagogues, prayer, rituals, the Torah or its God.

So when... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Shalom Auslander writes like Philip Roth's angry nephew. Foreskin's Lament is a scathing theological rant, a funny, oddly moving coming-of-age memoir, and an irreverent meditation on family, marriage, and cultural identity. God may be a bit irritated by this book, but I loved it." Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher

Review:

"If you read this while you're eating, the food will come out your nose. Foreskin's Lament is a filthy and slightly troubling dialogue with God, the big, old, physically abusive ultra orthodox God who brought His Chosen People out of Egypt to torture them with non kosher Slim Jims. I loved this book and will never again look at the isolated religious nutjobs on the fringe of American society with anything less than love and understanding." Matt Klam, author of Sam the Cat

Review:

"[A]n audacious, poke-God-in-the-eye memoir written by thirtysomething Shalom Auslander, who waxes hilariously upon the 'theological abuse' he suffered during a strict Orthodox upbringing in Monsey, N.Y." Miami Herald

Review:

"Writing with humor and bitter irony about the most personal subjects, with deep, real-world consequences, is no task for an acolyte, although many have tried. With his middle finger pointed at the heavens and a hand held over his heart, Auslander gives us Foreskin's Lament. Mazel tov to him." New York Times

Review:

"[A] terrific book I was sad I read in so few sittings, because I wanted more." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Auslander calls God names you're not allowed to call your little brother. I found the book lyrical, hysterical and refreshingly atypical." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"Writing funny and angry columns is one thing, but sustaining that pitch of laughter and fury for the length of a book is extraordinarily difficult. Auslander succeeds." Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"It would be a mistake to construe this book as anti-Semitic. It is, instead, a repudiation of fundamentalisms of all stripes." St. Petersburg Times

Synopsis:

In his bitingly funny memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional Jewish family and wrestling with a vengeful God, Auslander's combination of unrelenting humor and anger renders a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith, family, and community.

Synopsis:

The bestselling debut novel from Shalom Auslander, the darkly comic author of Foreskins Lament and Beware of God.

 

Hope: A Tragedy is a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.

 

The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there.

To begin again. To start anew. But it isnt quite working out that way for Kugel…

His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and wont stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one Kugel bought, and when, one night, he discovers history—a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history—hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.

Synopsis:

The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there.

To begin again. To start anew. But it isn’t quite working out that way for Kugel…

His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won’t stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one Kugel bought, and when, one night, he discovers history—a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history—hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.

Hope: A Tragedy is a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.

Video

About the Author

Shalom Auslander was raised in Monsey, New York. Nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, he has written for The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and is a regular contributor to NPR's "This American Life," His short story collection, Beware of God, was published in 2005. He lives in New York.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781594483332
Author:
Auslander, Shalom
Publisher:
Riverhead Books
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Judaism - Orthodox
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20081031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.02x5.10x.73 in. .57 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Religion » Judaism » Orthodox

Foreskin's Lament New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$15.00 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Riverhead Books - English 9781594483332 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Auslander, a magazine writer, describes his Orthodox Jewish upbringing as 'theological abuse' in this sardonic, twitchy memoir that waits for the other shoe to drop from on high. The title refers to his agitation over whether to circumcise his soon to be born son, yet another Jewish ritual stirring confusion and fear in his soul. Flitting haphazardly between expectant-father neuroses in Woodstock, N.Y., and childhood neuroses in Monsey, N.Y., Auslander labors mightily to channel Philip Roth with cutting, comically anxious spiels lamenting his claustrophobic house, off-kilter family and the temptations of all things nonkosher, from shiksas to Slim Jims. The irony of his name, Shalom (Hebrew for 'peace'), isn't lost on him, a tormented soul gripped with dread, fending off an alcoholic, abusive father while imagining his heavenly one as a menacing, mocking, inescapable presence. Fond of tormenting himself with worst-case scenarios, he concludes, 'That would be so God.' Like Roth's Portnoy, he commits minor acts of rebellion and awaits his punishment with youthful literal-mindedness. But this memoir is too wonky to engage the reader's sympathy or cut free Auslander's persona from the swath of stereotype — and he can't sublimate his rage into the cultural mischief that brightens Roth's oeuvre. That said, a surprisingly poignant ending awaits readers.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Shalom Auslander writes like Philip Roth's angry nephew. Foreskin's Lament is a scathing theological rant, a funny, oddly moving coming-of-age memoir, and an irreverent meditation on family, marriage, and cultural identity. God may be a bit irritated by this book, but I loved it."
"Review" by , "If you read this while you're eating, the food will come out your nose. Foreskin's Lament is a filthy and slightly troubling dialogue with God, the big, old, physically abusive ultra orthodox God who brought His Chosen People out of Egypt to torture them with non kosher Slim Jims. I loved this book and will never again look at the isolated religious nutjobs on the fringe of American society with anything less than love and understanding."
"Review" by , "[A]n audacious, poke-God-in-the-eye memoir written by thirtysomething Shalom Auslander, who waxes hilariously upon the 'theological abuse' he suffered during a strict Orthodox upbringing in Monsey, N.Y."
"Review" by , "Writing with humor and bitter irony about the most personal subjects, with deep, real-world consequences, is no task for an acolyte, although many have tried. With his middle finger pointed at the heavens and a hand held over his heart, Auslander gives us Foreskin's Lament. Mazel tov to him."
"Review" by , "[A] terrific book I was sad I read in so few sittings, because I wanted more."
"Review" by , "Auslander calls God names you're not allowed to call your little brother. I found the book lyrical, hysterical and refreshingly atypical."
"Review" by , "Writing funny and angry columns is one thing, but sustaining that pitch of laughter and fury for the length of a book is extraordinarily difficult. Auslander succeeds."
"Review" by , "It would be a mistake to construe this book as anti-Semitic. It is, instead, a repudiation of fundamentalisms of all stripes."
"Synopsis" by , In his bitingly funny memoir of growing up in a dysfunctional Jewish family and wrestling with a vengeful God, Auslander's combination of unrelenting humor and anger renders a rich and fascinating portrait of a man grappling with his faith, family, and community.
"Synopsis" by ,

The bestselling debut novel from Shalom Auslander, the darkly comic author of Foreskins Lament and Beware of God.

 

Hope: A Tragedy is a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.

 

The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there.

To begin again. To start anew. But it isnt quite working out that way for Kugel…

His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and wont stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one Kugel bought, and when, one night, he discovers history—a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history—hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.

"Synopsis" by ,

The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: no one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there.

To begin again. To start anew. But it isn’t quite working out that way for Kugel…

His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won’t stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one Kugel bought, and when, one night, he discovers history—a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history—hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.

Hope: A Tragedy is a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.

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