Hope: A Tragedy

Hope: A Tragedy
Shalom Auslander
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Picador
Thu, 16/02/2012
9781447207658
£16.99

Solomon is a majorly pessimistic, hard-done-by hero in this brilliantly witty slice-of-Jewish-life black comedy.  

While his mother, lodging with him, worries about the next Holocaust, and kvetches about the last even though she never lived through it, Solomon is surprised to find a relic from the Holocaust sharing his new home with him.  The fact that before now this has been a sacred cow, and here is presented as at times desperately unwelcome, is just one more pointer to show this is not going to be a gentle, easy read for everyone.
 
For many, however, this will be a delight.  The snappy dialogue and brisk style disguises a certain circularity about the circumstances Solomon finds himself in, but he’s such a brilliant invention, and is an ideal protagonist for a book that has a lot to say about the way Jewish history still defines the way people of that faith are living now in contemporary America.
 
So often comedies can fall flat and be read sincerely, but not in this instance.  There is genuine humour in every chapter, great quirky touches to every character, and the laughs only make the point of the book and its message even more scathingly achieved.  Suitable for Jewish people (except for the most sensitive) and everyone else, Hope is definitely one to enjoy.
 

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