- Publisher: NYRB Classics
- Format: Paperback | 264 pages
- Dimensions: 128mm x 198mm x 16mm | 259g
- Publication date: 1 December 2003
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 1590170709
- ISBN 13: 9781590170700
- Edition statement: Revised ed.
- Sales rank: 169,415
Norman Moonbloom is a loser, a drop-out who can't even make it as a deadbeat. His brother, a slumlord, hires him to collect rent in the buildings he owns in Manhattan. Making his rounds from apartment to apartment, Moonbloom confronts a wildly varied assortment of brilliantly described urban characters, among them a gay jazz musician with a sideline as a gigolo, a Holocaust survivor, and a brilliant young black writer modeled on James Baldwin. Moonbloom hears their cries of outrage and abuse; he learns about their secret sorrows and desires. And as he grows familiar with their stories, he finds that he is drawn, in spite of his best judgment, into a desperate attempt to improve their lives. Edward Lewis Wallant's astonishing comic tour de force is a neglected masterpiece of 1960s America.
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Edward Lewis Wallant (1926-1962) won critical acclaim for his novels "The Human Season" and "The Pawnbroker," which was made into the first American film to portray the inside of the Nazi death camps. After Wallant's untimely death, an annual award was created in his name to honor an outstanding work of fiction that "has significance for the American Jew." Dave Eggers is the editor of "McSweeney's" and the author of three books: "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; "You Shall Know Our Velocity," a novel; and "Visitants," a collection of short stories. He lives in California.
"These final pages...must be considered as among the most joyfully uplifting, the most ennobling of any penned by a serious talent ... a master in rendering the human voice."
Norman Moonbloom works as a rent collector for his selfish, money-orientated brother. Visiting his tenants regularly, Norman becomes embroiled in their lives and the moving stories they have to tell. The more engrossed Norman becomes, the more he associates much of their misery with the rundown apartments in which they live, and despairs at the poverty and decay linking them to their homes. After suffering an illness, Norman wakes a new man. Determined to make a difference in a society that overlooks those whose voices are seldom heard, Norman begins a journey of faith and courage as he sets about repairing his tenants homes whilst enriching their lives. Colourful characters and a gritty fifties Manhattan backdrop makes this is a deeply moving, imaginative and at times, profound novel as Norman takes the role of an almost Christ like figure. Deserving of a place in mainstream fiction, this is a timeless literary masterpiece guaranteed to delight, enthral, and never be forgotten. (Kirkus UK)