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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,870 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Shalom Auslander Narrator: Shalom Auslander Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9781101538746
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The rural town of Stockton, New York, is famous for nothing: No one was born there, no one died there, nothing of any historical import at all has ever happened there, which is why Solomon Kugel, like other urbanites fleeing their pasts and histories, decided to move his wife and young son there. To begin again. To start anew. But it isn't quite working out that way. His ailing mother stubbornly holds on to life, and won't stop reminiscing about the Nazi concentration camps she never actually suffered through. To complicate matters further, some lunatic is burning down farmhouses just like the one he bought. And when, one night, Kugel discovers history-a living, breathing, thought-to-be-dead specimen of history-hiding upstairs in his attic, bad quickly becomes worse.

The critically acclaimed writer Shalom Auslander's debut novel is a hilarious and disquieting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts that haunt our every present.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A virtuoso humorist, and a brave one: beware Shalom Auslander; he will make you laugh until your heart breaks. New York Times Book Review
  • A caustic comic tour de force. NPR
  • Poisonously funny…. Like an unintentional bark of laughter at a funeral. Entertainment Weekly
  • Staggeringly nervy… Other fiction writers have gotten this fresh with Anne Frank. But they don’t get much funnier… [Auslander] is an absurdist with a deep sense of gravitas… It’s a tall order for Mr. Auslander to raise an essentially comic novel to this level of moral contemplation. Yet Hope: A Tragedy succeeds shockingly well. New York Times
  • Shalom Auslander writes like some contemporary comedic Jeremiah, thundering warnings of disaster and retribution. What makes him so terrifyingly funny is that he isn’t joking. Howard Jacobson, author of The Finkler Question and winner of the Man Booker Prize
  • A wonderful, twisted, transgressive, heartbreaking, true, and hugely funny book. It will make very many people very angry. It will also make very many people very happy. A. L. Kennedy, author of Day
  • Can the darkest events of the twentieth century and of all human history be used to show the folly of hope? And can the result be so funny that you burst out laughing again and again? If you doubt this is possible, read Hope: A Tragedy. You won’t regret it. John Gray, author of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

     


  • “Staggeringly nervy…Other fiction writers have gotten this fresh with Anne Frank. But they don’t get much funnier…It’s a tall order for Mr. Auslander to raise an essentially comic novel to this level of moral contemplation. Yet Hope: A Tragedy succeeds shockingly well.”

    New York Times

  • “A caustic comic tour de force.”

    NPR

  • “Grimly comic…relentlessly entertaining.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Blends tragedy, comedy, and satire in the mold of Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Very funny; there is something very Wile E. Coyote about the ridiculous oppression that pursues Kugel…Vivid and very hard to stop thinking about.”

    Forward

  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Fiction
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • An 2012 eMusic Best Audiobook of the Year
  • One of the 2012 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 2/19/2014

    " It's so refreshing to read a book that is able to look at the favorite human pastimes of tragic neuroses, man's search for meaning, and self-martyrdom with such an unabashed eye and keen wit. Auslander picks through our assumed self-importance and shoves it back in our faces with a sideways glance implying: "What do you make of this mess? This piousness is our mess, isn't it? Let's explore the consequences of such a diet." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chaitra | 2/7/2014

    " Tragedy this was. I realize this is satire of Holocaust porn, but I don't think I'm even qualified to either commend it or decry it. Without judging its subject matter and keeping only Kugel's mental state in mind, this was a great, fun read. But, how depressing, even as it was highly entertaining. All that fixation about last words. Poor, poor Kugel - with a mother like that he never had a chance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amanda Wheet | 1/21/2014

    " At times, this book was poignant and hilarious, at others it seemed slightly insulting and overkill. The repetition is draining, several chapters read as exactly the same scenarios as before. In all reality, there is very little plot. Man finds Anne Frank in attic, man continues to fall into dizzy insanity, man dies in fire. I did feel as if the story is underdeveloped and rushed towards the end. In between, the plot is stagnant and predictable. Auslander's characters are highly developed cliches. Kugel, the self-hating Jew, Mother the "I survived the Holocaust even though I was born after the war ended so bow to me" Jew, Bree the picky, bitchy wife, and Anne Frank who is an old, vomiting, prolific Anne Frank. However, I read this quickly enjoying the one liners and quips. While I can't say this is a favorite, it was a decent, short read, with a lot of pluck. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Meryl Natchez | 1/3/2014

    " The tone and the main character were so off-putting, that I didn't hang around after he discovered the old woman in the attic. I think the tone is supposed to be comic, but it just seemed pathetic. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mikhail Baskov | 12/22/2013

    " Made no sense to me... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chrystal | 12/7/2013

    " The funniest and strangest book I have ever read. I read it after reading Jodi Picoult's Storyteller; they make quite a Holocaust pairing... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joe | 12/7/2013

    " I'm going to be recommending this book to anyone who asks me for a book recommendation for all of the foreseeable future. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Moira | 11/19/2013

    " Feh. Admirable. Accomplished. Deeply annoying. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lesa Parnham | 11/14/2013

    " Edgy, ironic,at turns funny and tragic. This book has it all with so many different facets. It was thought provoking and an enjoyable read. It gets you thinking about life in a new and different way. I admire this book and highly reputable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janet | 10/18/2013

    " Family buys an old farmhouse and finds that Anne Frank (yes, the real one) is alive and residing in their attic. Some very funny parts but can't say I really got into this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sonja | 10/9/2013

    " Darkly funny - I still don't know how I feel to be laughing at Holocaust subject matter. The ending was appropriate for the tone of the book but I was disappointed Kugel didn't get his act together. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jody | 9/29/2013

    " Funny and very worth reading! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 8/18/2013

    " Best cameo by Alan Dershowitz ever. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brent | 7/12/2013

    " The first two hundred pages of this are great. The build up to the ending is really slow, but generally, a very good read; well written and contains lots of fun facts about dead people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick Claypool | 6/27/2013

    " A middle-class Jewish family's absurd encounter with a famous holocaust survivor they discover squatting in their attic. If Samuel Beckett had written a family sit-com, it might read something like this. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kim | 6/10/2013

    " Could not get into this book. Didn't engage with me at all. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dragana | 11/10/2012

    " Starts out interestingly and literally incendiary, darkest of dark humor, and I'm ok with that, but overstays welcome just like a certain, um, celebrity "survivor". Could've avoided wear&tear by using stylistic tool of repetition more sparingly. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jonathan | 6/24/2012

    " Couldn't get into this one, and I usually love Auslander. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erik | 3/17/2012

    " It takes a special kind of author/humorist to make you laugh at the things that you really shouldn't. Auslander is one of those. "

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About the Author

Shalom Auslander was raised in Monsey, New York. Nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, he has published articles in Esquire, New York Times Magazine, Tablet, and the New Yorker and has had stories aired on NPR’s This American Life. He is the author of the short-story collection Beware of God and the memoir Foreskin’s Lament. He lives in New York.