Dreadfully Ever After Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?



My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$5.95
Used Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

More copies of this ISBN

The Ministry of Special Cases: A Novel

by

The Ministry of Special Cases: A Novel Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"The awkward dance between tragedy and farce continues through the book's final pages, as the truth of what happened to Pato subtly unfolds and Kaddish endures the unintended consequences of yet another desperate scheme. In the end we are left, again, with the image of a figure at the window: this time it is Lillian, who does not actually believe that God might orchestrate her rescue, but hopes for it all the same. Is the gilgul of Grub Street waiting for his own divine intervention?" Ruth Franklin, The New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The long-awaited novel from Nathan Englander, author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges. Englander's wondrous and much-heralded collection of stories won the 2000 Pen/Malamud Award and was translated into more than a dozen languages.

From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina's Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won't accept him; strives for a wife who forever saves him; and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence — and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear. When the nightmare of the disappeared children brings the Poznan family to its knees, they are thrust into the unyielding corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases, the refuge of last resort.

Nathan Englander's first novel is a timeless story of fathers and sons. In a world turned upside down, where the past and the future, the nature of truth itself, all take shape according to a corrupt government's whims, one man — one spectacularly hopeless man — fights to overcome his history and his name, and, if for only once in his life, to put things right. Here again are all the marvelous qualities for which Englander's first book was immediately beloved: his exuberant wit and invention, his cosmic sense of the absurd, his genius for balancing joyfulness and despair. Through the devastation of a single family, Englander captures, indelibly, the grief of a nation. The Ministry of Special Cases, like Englander's stories before it, is a celebration of our humanity, in all its weakness, and — despite that — hope.

Review:

"Young writers are often told to write about what they know. In his 1999 collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, Nathan Englander spun the material of his orthodox Jewish background into marvelous fiction. But the real trick to writing about what you know is to make sure you know more as you mature. Englander's first novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, conjures a world far removed from 'The Gilgul of Second Avenue.' The novel is set in 1976 in Buenos Aires during Argentina's 'dirty war.' Kaddish Poznan, hijo de puta, son of a whore, earns a meager living defacing gravestones of Jewish whores and pimps whose more respectable children want to erase their immigrant parents' names and forget their shameful activities. Kaddish labors in the Jewish cemetery at night. His hardworking wife, Lillian, toils in an insurance agency by day, and their idealistic son, Pato, attends college, goes to concerts and smokes pot with his friends. When Pato is taken from home, Kaddish learns what it really means to erase identity, because no one in authority will admit Pato has been arrested. No one will even acknowledge that Pato existed. As Lillian and Kaddish attempt to penetrate the Ministry of Special Cases, Englander's novel takes on an epic quality in which Jewish parents descend into the underworld and journey through circles of hell. Gogol, I.B. Singer and Orwell all come to mind, but Englander's book is unique in its layering of Jewish tradition and totalitarian obliteration. At times Englander's motifs seem forced. Kaddish, whose very name evokes the memory of the dead, chisels out the name of a plastic surgeon's disreputable father, and in lieu of cash receives nose jobs for himself and his wife. Lillian's nose job is at first unsuccessful, and her nose slides off her face. One form of defacement pays for another. Kaddish fights with his son in the cemetery and accidentally slices off the tip of Pato's finger. Attempting to erase a letter, Kaddish blights a digit. But the fight seems staged, Pato's presence unwarranted except for Englander's schema. Other scenes are haunting: Lillian confronting bureaucrats; Kaddish appealing to a rabbi to learn if it is possible for a Jew to have a funeral without a body; Kaddish picking an embarrassing embroidered name off the velvet curtain in front of the ark in the synagogue. When he picks off the gold thread, the name stands out even more prominently because the velvet underneath the embroidery is unfaded, darker than the rest of the fabric. Englander writes with increasing power and authority in the second half of his book; he probes deeper and deeper, looking at what absence means, reading the shadow letters on history's curtain. Allegra Goodman is the author of five books, including Intuition." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Among cruel military coups, few match Argentina's Dirty War for sheer grisly horror. The covert torture and murder of tens of thousands of people from 1976 to 1983 has now been well documented, as has the pain of families who spent decades desperate for certainty about their missing children's fates. Nathan Englander's ambitious, flawed first novel, 'The Ministry of Special Cases,' visits this terrifying... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] staggeringly mature work....The bulk of this overwhelming novel...is Pozman's and his wife's attempt to locate their missing son. Four P's best describe this work: poignant, powerful, political, and yet personal." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[B]listering emotional intensity....A political novel anchored, unforgettably, in the realm of the personal. Englander's story collection promised a brilliant future, and that promise is here fulfilled beyond all expectations." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Through deft, understated prose, Englander evokes the incremental way in which fear grips a community." Miami Herald

Review:

"This chilling book of intrigue examines the slow obliteration of culture and families perpetuated by forces seeking absolute political power. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Englander secures his status as a powerful storyteller with this book about the disappearance of the son of a down-and-out Jewish hustler during Argentina's Dirty War in the seventies." Details

Review:

"The combination of a gift for narrative, a proclivity for pathos, and a lode of arcane knowledge is put to great use in Nathan Englander's first novel." The Boston Phoenix

Review:

"As remarkable as Englander's evocation of a country at war with itself is, his greatest achievement might be the way he manages to do it with a lightness of touch and even a few delicately comic insertions." Edmonton Journal

Synopsis:

The long-awaited first novel from the author of the sensational short-story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is a stunning historical tale set at the start of Argentina's Dirty War, a hallucinatory journey into a forbidden city and a world of terror.

About the Author

Nathan Englander's short fiction has appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and numerous anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Englander's story collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375404931
Author:
Englander, Nathan
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
History
Subject:
Jews
Subject:
Missing children
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
April 24, 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.48x6.62x1.27 in. 1.40 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges:... Used Trade Paper $3.95
  2. The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel
    Used Book Club Paperback $2.50
  3. Divisadero
    Used Book Club Paperback $3.50
  4. On Chesil Beach
    Used Book Club Paperback $1.48
  5. The Savage Detectives

  6. Falling Man
    Used Trade Paper $4.95

Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Ministry of Special Cases: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780375404931 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Young writers are often told to write about what they know. In his 1999 collection, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, Nathan Englander spun the material of his orthodox Jewish background into marvelous fiction. But the real trick to writing about what you know is to make sure you know more as you mature. Englander's first novel, The Ministry of Special Cases, conjures a world far removed from 'The Gilgul of Second Avenue.' The novel is set in 1976 in Buenos Aires during Argentina's 'dirty war.' Kaddish Poznan, hijo de puta, son of a whore, earns a meager living defacing gravestones of Jewish whores and pimps whose more respectable children want to erase their immigrant parents' names and forget their shameful activities. Kaddish labors in the Jewish cemetery at night. His hardworking wife, Lillian, toils in an insurance agency by day, and their idealistic son, Pato, attends college, goes to concerts and smokes pot with his friends. When Pato is taken from home, Kaddish learns what it really means to erase identity, because no one in authority will admit Pato has been arrested. No one will even acknowledge that Pato existed. As Lillian and Kaddish attempt to penetrate the Ministry of Special Cases, Englander's novel takes on an epic quality in which Jewish parents descend into the underworld and journey through circles of hell. Gogol, I.B. Singer and Orwell all come to mind, but Englander's book is unique in its layering of Jewish tradition and totalitarian obliteration. At times Englander's motifs seem forced. Kaddish, whose very name evokes the memory of the dead, chisels out the name of a plastic surgeon's disreputable father, and in lieu of cash receives nose jobs for himself and his wife. Lillian's nose job is at first unsuccessful, and her nose slides off her face. One form of defacement pays for another. Kaddish fights with his son in the cemetery and accidentally slices off the tip of Pato's finger. Attempting to erase a letter, Kaddish blights a digit. But the fight seems staged, Pato's presence unwarranted except for Englander's schema. Other scenes are haunting: Lillian confronting bureaucrats; Kaddish appealing to a rabbi to learn if it is possible for a Jew to have a funeral without a body; Kaddish picking an embarrassing embroidered name off the velvet curtain in front of the ark in the synagogue. When he picks off the gold thread, the name stands out even more prominently because the velvet underneath the embroidery is unfaded, darker than the rest of the fabric. Englander writes with increasing power and authority in the second half of his book; he probes deeper and deeper, looking at what absence means, reading the shadow letters on history's curtain. Allegra Goodman is the author of five books, including Intuition." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The awkward dance between tragedy and farce continues through the book's final pages, as the truth of what happened to Pato subtly unfolds and Kaddish endures the unintended consequences of yet another desperate scheme. In the end we are left, again, with the image of a figure at the window: this time it is Lillian, who does not actually believe that God might orchestrate her rescue, but hopes for it all the same. Is the gilgul of Grub Street waiting for his own divine intervention?" (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "[A] staggeringly mature work....The bulk of this overwhelming novel...is Pozman's and his wife's attempt to locate their missing son. Four P's best describe this work: poignant, powerful, political, and yet personal."
"Review" by , "[B]listering emotional intensity....A political novel anchored, unforgettably, in the realm of the personal. Englander's story collection promised a brilliant future, and that promise is here fulfilled beyond all expectations."
"Review" by , "Through deft, understated prose, Englander evokes the incremental way in which fear grips a community."
"Review" by , "This chilling book of intrigue examines the slow obliteration of culture and families perpetuated by forces seeking absolute political power. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Englander secures his status as a powerful storyteller with this book about the disappearance of the son of a down-and-out Jewish hustler during Argentina's Dirty War in the seventies."
"Review" by , "The combination of a gift for narrative, a proclivity for pathos, and a lode of arcane knowledge is put to great use in Nathan Englander's first novel."
"Review" by , "As remarkable as Englander's evocation of a country at war with itself is, his greatest achievement might be the way he manages to do it with a lightness of touch and even a few delicately comic insertions."
"Synopsis" by , The long-awaited first novel from the author of the sensational short-story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is a stunning historical tale set at the start of Argentina's Dirty War, a hallucinatory journey into a forbidden city and a world of terror.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.