Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Mishani's reply:
There are books that while reading them you already know that will appear in any "Best books I've ever read" lists that you'd do in the future. There are books that while reading them you know that will change the way you read and even write. And I'm so happy to say that I've just finished reading one of those books. It's called Job: The Story of a Simple Man. It was written by Austrian-Jewish writer Joseph Roth and translated to English by the wonderful Michael Hofmann. I came by it quite accidently, after a long dry period of not finding the right book, a period that ended immediately with the first lines of the charged, direct and poetic prose of Joseph Roth.Learn more about the book and author at D. A. Mishani's website and Facebook page.
Job tells the story of a Jewish family from Eastern Europe in the beginning of the twentieth century. The father, Mendel Singer, is a poor teacher of Hebrew. He's married to Deborah, who gives birth to three normal children, and then to Menuchim.
Menuchim is a disfigured, mute, baby. He seems hopeless but when his mother visits the local Rabbi he promises that the disfigured son would recover someday. The Singers wait years and years for his recovery (even when they leave him in Russia and immigrate to New York) and their hopeful waiting gradually becomes a metaphor, or even a few: a metaphor to the Jewish people's long hope for salvation, a metaphor to our individual expectation that one of these days our defects will disappear and our lives will be redeemed, even a metaphor to the reading process and the reader's wish for a happy ending.
I truly envy those of you who'll start reading this novel, which I can only re-read but not experience again for the first time…
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