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Extended Audio Sample Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel, by Shalom Auslander Click for printable size audiobook cover
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:
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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.

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

  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • 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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. "

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