Synopses & Reviews
There are people out there, millions of them, who act as if they still believe everything that their mothers told them in the first six months of their life: they're the nicest, most beautiful, most promising and intelligent bags of flesh ever to walk the earth, and anybody who can't see it is a jealous fool.
We call these people shmucks. In How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck), bestselling author Michael Wex offers a wise and witty guide to being a good human being, regardless of your religion or beliefs—a blueprint for living a decent and moral life, acting with self-control instead of self-denial, and winning through cooperation rather than competition.
But this is no dull manual about loving thy neighbor. It's a fast-paced and entertaining adventure in the wisdom of the ages, wherever that wisdom may be found: Yiddish proverbs, current events, Talmudic stories, movies, television, and more. Referencing pop culture and Jewish tradition with equal ease, Wex explores the strategies developed by an oppressed people to pursue happiness with their dignity—and sense of humor—intact.
“[A]n often humorous and frequently provocative guide to being a good person, a mentsh....This book reflects extensive learning, serious thought, a sense of the absurd and the unfair, as well as an impish willingness to play the mazik (scamp).” Jewish Book World
“[S]uperb...brilliant...[O]ne of the leading lights in the Yiddish revival, Michael Wex distills the age-old principles that have been the nucleus of Jewish survival...into some relevant lessons, delightful anecdotes, and real-world applications for not just Judaism but all faiths.” Sacramento Book Review
“Just superb….The book is funny, too, and is certainly the finest explanation of the religious significance of The Apartment and Groundhog Day. Talmud, Torah, Jack Lemmon, Bill Murray--need I say more?” Mark Oppenheimer, author of Thirteen and a Day: The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Across America
“The Sneaky Chef of contemporary Jewish culture…Wex writes books that look and read like snacks, but he hides scholarly vegetables between the covers…Wex has achieved on the bookshelf what Hillel advised that we all do in life: In a place where there are no mentshn, try to be a mentsh.” Forward
“…blessed with humor, grace and a well-developed sense of contemporary pop culture (references range from Genesis to Groundhog Day) ... a consistent pleasure: entertaining, educational…with more than a few thought-provoking suggestions for achieving mentsh-hood (or at least avoiding shmuck-itude).” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Funny...astute and relevant.” San Francisco Chronicle
Sure to resonate with Jewish and Gentile readers alike, How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck)
is a wise and witty self-help manual for pursuing happiness while still acting with integrity, honor, and compassion. Michael Wex, New York Times
bestselling author of Born to Kvetch
and Just Say Nu
, draws on sources that range from the Talmud and Yiddish proverbs to contemporary music and movies in this insightful guide that explores not only humannature and psychologybutour duties to ourselves and one another.
Sure to resonate with Jewish and Gentile readers alike, How to Be a Mentsh (and Not a Shmuck) is a wise and witty self-help manual for pursuing happiness while still acting with integrity, honor, and compassion. Michael Wex, New York Times bestselling author of Born to Kvetch and Just Say Nu, draws on sources that range from the Talmud and Yiddish proverbs to contemporary music and movies in this insightful guide that explores not only human nature and psychology but our duties to ourselves and one another.
About the Author
Michael Wex is a novelist, a professor, a translator, a lecturer, and a performer of stand-up and one-person shows. Wex has been hailed as "a Yiddish national treasure" and is one of the leading lights in the current revival of Yiddish, speaking widely on Yiddish and Jewish culture. He lives in Toronto.