Foreskin's Lament

Foreskin's Lament

3.82 (4,072 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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"Foreskin's Lament" reveals Auslander's youth in a strict, socially isolated Orthodox community, and recounts his rebellion and efforts to make a new life apart from it. Auslander remembers his youthful attempt to win the 'blessing bee' (the Orthodox version of a spelling bee), his exile to reform school in Israel after being caught shoplifting a cassette tape of "West Side Story", and his twenty-five-mile hike to watch the New York Rangers play in Madison Square Garden without violating the Sabbath. Throughout, Auslander struggles to understand God and His complicated, often contradictory laws. But ultimately, he settles for a ceasefire with God, accepting the very slim remaining hope that his newborn son might live free of guilt, doubt, and struggle.Auslander's combination of unrelenting humour and anger a voice that compares to those of David Sedaris and Dave Eggers delivers a rich and fascinating self-portrait of a man grappling with his faith, family, and community. Praise for "Shalom Auslander": 'There is a serious point to Auslander's fictional games. He wants us to be careful of taking any figure of authority too seriously; God is just the prime example...Its real heroes are literary: writers such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett who use prose to get at something more mysterious and mystical than any religion - our love of and trust in language, to amuse and distract us from death'. - "Times Literary Supplement".show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 144 x 218 x 32mm | 281.23g
  • Pan MacMillan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 033045353X
  • 9780330453530
  • 640,343

About Shalom Auslander

Shalom Auslander's short story collection, Beware of God, was published by Picador in 2005. He lives in New more

Review quote

aFierce, funny, and subversively heartfelt...With his middle finger pointed at the heavens and a hand held over his heart, Auslander gives us "Foreskinas Lament," Mazel tov to him. And God? Well, heall survive.a a"New York Times Book Review" aAuslander writes like Philip Rothas angry nephew... a scathing theological rant, a funny, oddly moving coming-of-age memoir, and an irreverent meditation on family, marriage, and cultural identity. God may be a bit irritated by this book, but I loved it.a aTom Perrotta, author of "Little Children" and "The Abstinence Teacher" aA laugh-out-loud quarrel with God.a a"Newsweek" aA terrific book I was sad I read in so few sittings, because I wanted more.a a"San Francisco Chronicle" aHilarious, caustic, and surprisingly moving.a a"Philadelphia Inquirer" aBlasphemous and funny.a a "Newsweek" aA surprise and delight.a a"Boston Globe" aA fretful, self-effacing, bittera]hilarious story.a a"The Houston Chronicle" aWryly comic.a a"New York Magazine" aHilarious, caustic, and surprisingly moving.a a"Philadelphia Inquirer" aA very funny memoir.a a"GQ" aLyrical, hystericala] funny and angry.a a"Cleveland Plain Dealer" aAn audacious, poke-God-in-theeye memoir.a a"Miami Herald"show more

Review Text

What was it that Tolstoy said about unhappy families? While each may in fact be unique in its discontent, surely the one recalled here by Auslander (Beware of God: Stories, 2005) stands out from the rest for sheer outlandish, operatic misery. Haunted by the ghost of a first son who died in toddlerhood, the author's Orthodox Jewish father became a broken, brutish alcoholic. His mother, an embittered woman convinced she married beneath her, lusted vocally after the achievements and wealth of her two brothers, both rabbis. This childhood tale of woe could be merely maudlin, but Auslander brings a mordant sense of humor to his portraits of encounters with the non-Orthodox and their Trans Ams, and of jockeying for position in his isolated upstate New York community. The book begins with the author, who fled this insular world to work in New York City, discovering that wife Orli, a fellow religious refugee, was pregnant - an occasion to celebrate for many, but Auslander, who grew up terrified of a vengeful God, saw it more like the setup to a cosmic joke. "I know this God, I know how he works," he writes. "On the drive home from the hospital, we'll collide head-on with a drunk driver and [my wife and son will] both die later That would be so God." The author's attempts to rid himself of the scheming deity under whose thumb he came of age became tangled up in his strained relationship with his family, but he tells this sad story with a crucial touch of satire. In the midst of a description of his waking nightmares of theistic vengeance, a friend interrupted to point out that Auslander's conviction that God might have a personal vendetta against him was slightly solipsistic. He's scheming against you, too, Auslander responded: "You just don't notice it."An often breathtakingly irreverent look at religion and the humorous side of exorcising the past. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

4,072 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 25% (1,005)
4 43% (1,742)
3 25% (1,019)
2 6% (232)
1 2% (74)
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