The End of the Jews: A Novel
The ruthlessly engrossing and beautifully rendered story of the Brodskys, a family of artists who realize, too late, one elemental truth: Creation’s necessary consequence is destruction.
Each member of the mercurial clan in Adam Mansbach’s 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 Mansbach’s 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.
Linda pointed to the closed door of the room outside which they were clustered. “Sleeping. It’s hypoglycemia. Low blood sugar. They gave her a shot in the ER and she revived. The good news is that she could easily have broken a hip when she fell, but she didn’t. Just contusions.” Tris darted his eyes toward Tristan’s slumped form and tapped his temple. “What about up here?” “They don’t know,” the old man said, grimacing up at his grandson. “These sons of bitches don’t know anything.” Linda.
Decoding the illogic of English as a spoken language. After a week, she determines that the proper way to respond to “How’s it going?” or “How you feeling?” or “What’s up?” is not by accounting for your emotional or physical state, or your current activity, but by repeating the inquiry. Americans smile without provocation or sincerity; Nina trains herself not to be freaked out by all the flashing teeth, internalizes the fact that the default demeanor that passes for serious back home comes off as.
Husband’s head thrown back, his jaw trembling. “Honey! What is it?” Tristan takes a deep breath, and when he exhales, it is slow, controlled. He pinches the bridge of his nose, leans toward her until his head rests awkwardly against her shoulder. “I’m just tired. I mean, what can I say, Amalia? I wasn’t at the death camps. I don’t even know anyone who died—not personally. I’m sure I’ll never write about it. It’s as abstract and incomprehensible to me as it is to any American.” “I very much.
To comment on the weather. Not that Tristan is a deity, or even a disciplinarian. Amalia handles all of that. It is another way he’s failed her. No one ever looks back on his life and says “I wish I’d worked more,” Tristan’s father told him—not his dying words, which, according to Benjamin, were, Somebody please get me some lemon for this seltzer, but certainly the last memorable thing Jacob Brodsky uttered to his elder son before deciding not to bother recovering from the influenza he.
Potholes until she winds her way down to Third and MacDougal. She parks, double-checks to make sure all the doors are locked, and braces herself as she passes a convocation of rangy young people in woolen ski caps, their breath indistinguishable from their cigarette smoke, passing a fifth of Southern Comfort in front of Cafe Wha? No one says a word to her. Why would they? Amalia reproaches herself as she continues up the block. Why would they take any note of me at all? Teaching seldom makes her.