Years ago, like 2012 or so, I read Nathan Englander’s “The Ministry of Special Cases” and thoroughly enjoyed it. I read it in January and it made my best of year list for 2012! Unfortunately I’ve lost the full review, but it was an excellent book and I’ve wanted to read more by Englander ever since but not got around to it.
So I had his new book on my wish list at Audible when nominations were due for the Modern Reading Group and they selected it for the month of June! But now I have to catch up on Englander’s other books because from the first short chapter I knew this book was going to be another winner
by Nathan Englander
2019 / 204 pages
read by Rob Shapiro – 5h 33m
(read and listened)
The father of Larry, our Brooklyn-based protagonist, has just died in Memphis. He was a very wise and religious man and his family, which sits orthodox Shiva for him, now needs Larry to say Kaddish, the year-long daily prayers for the dead that the eldest son in all good Orthodox Jewish families are required to say in order to win their loved one entry into heaven.
Unfortunately for the family, especially for Larry’s sister who is deeply devout, Larry is not in any way religious or reliable. But he agrees, in one way or the other, to do the prayers. Actually, he does them the “other” way – by digital proxy via Kaddish.com.
The book is fun and thoughtful. What is honor, duty and wisdom? What is forgiveness – amends?
Englander is often compared to his friend Phillip Roth, but I won’t do that because I’m not always so fond of Roth. I’d rather compare him to Howard Jacobson or David Grossman or Meir Shalev.
Fwiw, Rob Shapiro the reader on the Audible version, does an excellent job.