Synopses & Reviews
One of the great provocateurs of world literature has written perhaps his most outrageous and morally necessary novel: the story of a confused young man from a family with a Nazi past who decides he will devote his life to redeeming the suffering of the Jews in his own unorthodox way What is it to the sixteen-year-old Swiss youth Xavier Radek that his grandfather served in the SS? Why are Xavier's parents so quiet, so furtive, so uninterested in doing anything with their lives, in pursuing any great causes? Not that there seem to be many great causes on offer in Basel, Switzerland, at least within reach of a restless, socially nervous and-let's admit-not notably gifted young man. Until, that is, Xavier meets some members of the Basel Jewish youth group and comes to know a boy named Awromele, son of a local rabbi. Suddenly the light goes on: this group of people, who have suffered so much, need his help, and he will not stint at giving it to them. So it is that young Xavier decides to convert to Judaism and to begin his long journey to influence and, in the end, to infamy. With him at every step is the rabbi's son Awromele, first as his guide, then as his lover, and finally as his devoted right-hand man. Although Awromele arguably bears some responsibility for the botched circumcision that costs Xavier his left testicle, and while his decision to coax Xavier into collaborating on the first translation of Mein Kampf into Yiddish is of questionable taste, and his sexual promiscuity can often be hurtful, on the deeper issue of emotional fidelity there can be no doubt. Awromele sticks by Xavier's side through life's every turn: when Xavier's mother's sexual addiction to her favorite kitchenknife creates ugly domestic strife; when Xavier's father takes his own life; when Xavier transplants the two young men to Amsterdam so he can attend art school; when the two migrate to Israel; when Xavier enters politics; when he is elected Israeli prime minister; and when he chooses the nuclear option. Both a great love story and a grotesque farce, both an assault on the most well- guarded pieties and taboos of our age and a profound reckoning with the limits of human guilt, cruelty, and suffering, The Jewish Messiah is without question Arnon Grunberg's masterpiece.
"Grunberg rejects self-serving existentialism, confronts real-world torture, genocide, terrorism, and personal crimes of the heart, and he infuses his visceral, wily satire with biblical fury."
-Los Angeles Times "Arnon Grunberg is known for writing incendiary novels, but...The Jewish Messiah pushes his bleak sense of humor into new realms....Much more than an impolite screed; Grunberg wants to incite dialogue, not controversy."
- Time Out New York
The new novel by the internationally acclaimed author- "a farce of nuclear proportions"(Vanity Fair)
Arnon Grunberg is one of the most subtly outrageous provocateurs in world literature. The Jewish Messiah, which chronicles the evolution of one Xavier Radek from malcontent grandson of a former SS officer, to Jewish convert, to co- translator of Hitler's Mein Kampf into Yiddish, to Israeli politician and Israel's most unlikely prime minister, is his most outrageous work yet. Taking on the most well-guarded pieties and taboos of our age, The Jewish Messiah is both a great love story and a grotesque farce that forces a profound reckoning with the limits of human guilt, cruelty, and suffering. It is without question Arnon Grunberg's masterpiece.
About the Author
Arnon Grunberg's novels have both been translated into twenty languages. Blue Mondays and (writing as Marek van der Jagt) The Story of My Baldness were both winners of the Anton Wachter Prize for debut fiction, making him the only novelist to have won it twice.