Book Review : "Hope : A Tragedy"

Hope: A TragedyHope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one crazy novel. A Jewish man flees the big bad city for a farmhouse in a tiny community, but no sooner does he arrive than a firebug starts burning down homes just like his. But wait, that's the least of it. After hearing noises in the attic of his new castle, he goes up to investigate and finds Anne Frank living up there. She's ancient, hideous, bitter, stinky, and foul-tempered. What to do?

Shalom Auslander is a seriously funny writer. I laughed myself silly, especially in the first half of the book. The narrator, Kugel, is forever trying to figure out life's knotty questions, a task made harder by having to deal with his ever more disappointed wife, his neurotic Holocaust-obsessed mother, and old crazy hag Anne Frank in the attic.

Why is man born, only to suffer and die? Kugel may find out, if he can dodge the falling anvils long enough. This novel is wildly absurd, hilarious, dark, and at times frustrating. Have you ever watched one of those sitcom episodes where a character is trying to do (or undo) something and keeps running into obstacles and further problems for the whole half hour? This book is like that at times. I hate those kind of episodes, and at some points, I got tired of it here, as well. On the whole, though, I found this novel refreshing, funny, and just the thing for reading during lockdown. Recommended.

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D.Day Lewis said…
Does the book explain the meaning of the title?
Fireblossom said…
Yes. The narrator has a professor friend, Jove, whose philosophy is that suffering always springs from hope being dashed. Essentially, expect the worst and you'll never be disappointed. And yet, Kugel keeps hoping, and being disappointed.
hedgewitch said…
Sounds like a truly wild read, Shay. It's always good to see all the premises for novels have NOT been exhausted, because this one is totally unique.