Synopses & Reviews
The ruthlessly engrossing and beautifully rendered story of the Brodskys, a family of artists who realize, too late, one elemental truth: Creations necessary consequence is destruction.
Each member of the mercurial clan in Adam Mansbachs bold new novel faces the impossible choice between the people they love and the art that sustains them. Tristan Brodsky, sprung from the asphalt of the depression-era Bronx, goes on to become one of the swaggering Jewish geniuses who remakes American culture while slowly suffocating his poet wife, who harbors secrets of her own. Nina Hricek, a driven young Czech photographer escapes from behind the Iron Curtain with a group of black musicians only to find herself trapped yet again, this time in a doomed love affair. And finally, Tris Freedman, grandson of Tristan and lover of Nina, a graffiti artist and unanchored revolutionary, cannibalizes his family history to feed his muse. In the end, their stories converge and the survival of each requires the sacrifice of another.
The End of the Jews offers all the rewards of the traditional family epic, but Mansbachs irreverent wit and rich, kinetic prose shed new light on the genre. It runs on its own chronometer, somersaulting gracefully through time and space, interweaving the tales of these three protagonists who, separated by generation and geography, are leading parallel lives.
"The lives of a young Jewish man in the 1930s and a young Czech woman in the 1980s echo across generations in Mansbach's (Angry Black White Boy) continuing investigations into ethnic identity. Tristan Brodsky, the son of New York Jewish immigrant parents, is introduced to pre-WWII jazz and African-American culture by a City College professor who mentors him into a mostly successful, though often controversial, career as a novelist. Tristan's grandson and namesake, known as Tris, is a suburban teen in thrall to hip-hop culture who becomes a novelist himself. (Tris's writerly angst provides some of the funniest scenes in the book.) Then there's Nina Hricek, a talented young Czech photographer who is all but adopted by a touring American jazz group passing through Prague: the black band members affectionately dub her 'Pigfoot' and insist that she must be part Creole. Nina becomes a sort of apprentice to the group's tour photographer. One night, when covering a gig at New York's Blue Note, she locks eyes with a man working at the club Tris. Mansbach moves effortlessly between U.S. jazz clubs of different eras and Communist Prague, and his dialogue rings true. Believably eccentric characters and an inventive cross-generational plot make this novel of immigration's vicissitudes a delight." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Brodskys are a family of artists and writers thwarted in a restless search for love, happiness, and an identity that fits. Tristan Brodsky, born of the bustling New World shtetl of the Bronx, goes on to become one of the swaggering mid-century Jewish geniuses who remake American culture, while slowly suffocating his wife, a poet with secrets of her own. His grandson Tris, aka RISK, is a graffiti writer and revolutionary (desperately searching for a revolution) who, at the opposite end of the 20th century, replays his grandfather's immigrant story as farce. Across an ocean, Nina Hricek is a teenaged photographer who flees communist Prague with a traveling American jazz band, only to find herself trapped in a volatile affair with a man twice her age before becoming a part of the Brodsky clan. Their stories of creation, identity, family, and infidelity unfold in parallel narratives that jump through time and space, until their dilemmas slowly converge—in the end, the survival of each demands the sacrifice of another.
This is an ambitious and affecting family drama elevated by Mansbach's imaginative storytelling techniques and deep empathy for his characters. Boldly reworking the story of Jewish assimilation around the tale of a family of fierce individuals, this is the story of anyone willing to fight for love, art, and a place in the world.
Boldly reworking the story of Jewish assimilation around the tale of a familyof fierce individuals, this is the story of anyone willing to fight for love, art, and a place in the world.
About the Author
ADAM MANSBACH is the author of the novels Angry White Black Boy and Shackling Water. He currently teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute.