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Extended Audio Sample The Ministry of Special Cases Audiobook, by Nathan Englander Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,817 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Nathan Englander Narrator: Arthur Morey Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2007 ISBN: 9780739341940
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From Nathan Englander, author of the literary sensation For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, a spectacular debut novel set at the height of Argentina's Dirty War.

An unforgettable work of realism and of the imagination, a hallucinatory journey into a world of terror, into a forbidden city within a city at a time of radical instability and dislocation, Englander's novel moves effortlessly between the cosmic and the minute, wrestling with extraordinary themes and binding them into an exceptionally crafted narrative that fuses absurdity and desolation with transcendence and abiding love. The fate of the Jews; the fate of the disappeared; the fate of one family- of a hopelessly lost father and a hopelessly lost son—all meet in the dark, inescapably tortuous corridors of the Ministry of Special Cases.

Buenos Aires, 1976.

Kaddish Poznan, hijo-de-puta, son of a whore, detested by his son, Pato, who makes his living defacing Jewish gravestones, obscuring disreputable histories of those who under the current regime have reason to fear their past as much as their future. But when Pato disappears, the Poznan family is brought to its knees in a realm of Kafkaesque despair and indirection.

THE MINISTRY OF SPECIAL CASES is the story of one man's inability to overcome his name and his history—of a mother's love for her vanished son—of a family's reckoning with the laws of mourning and of marriage—of a country where disappeared children are dropped from planes into the sea, while their loved ones are cruelly plagued by the rituals of an impermeable bureaucracy with its taunting decree of habeas corpus, the need to produce a body. Nathan Englander's tour de force confirms his place as one of the most significant writers of his generation.

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Quotes & Awards

  • One of the 2007 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Isaac | 2/10/2014

    " wow, what a miserable book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kendall | 2/9/2014

    " Echoes of Catch-22 (one of my favorites) to balance out the tragedy of the storyline. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 2/8/2014

    " Good writer. Loved this book. If the government is doing bad things that do not have an effect on us then we do not think of them as a bad government. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Catherine Bathrick | 2/4/2014

    " great writing. great story. educational, funny and heart wrenching. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Clyde | 1/26/2014

    " Don't cry for me Argentina! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ariel | 1/15/2014

    " Better in concept than as a full novel. Still I enjoyed imagining Jewish Buenas Aries. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Donna | 1/15/2014

    " Tried really hard to like this book. Wanted to like it. Was tempted to put it down in the middle, but did finish it. Just didn't like it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ingrid | 11/17/2013

    " took me a while to get into this one. was worth the persistence for its dark wit in the face of absurd reality. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Marie | 10/20/2013

    " The writing is good (the scenes of bodily mutilation--nose job, accidental cutting off of fingertip--actually turned my stomach), but I just couldn't get through it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 9/12/2013

    " I read this before I read the book of short stories. I think I had really high expectations for the short stories since there was a lot of fanfare when this was published along the lines of "long-awaited novel" and such. But I thought the novel was quite good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Rose | 8/30/2013

    " i listened to this on my on cd...what a compelling/tragic/well written story of a Jewish Argentinian family whose son gets "disappeared" and how differently the husband and wife handle the situation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carola | 8/28/2013

    " Excellent characters; the end is not cheerful "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mary Kathryn | 8/25/2013

    " Blech. I read this for a Book Club and, given its critical reception, was really looking forward to it. There are no human beings in this novel, only "characters" who all talk the same. The world of the novel is unsatisfyingly rendered. I couldn't wait for it to be over! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan | 10/18/2012

    " This book is truly a jewel. Englander's prose evokes Isaac Bashevis Singer, Kundera, and, in places, Kafka. Heartbreaking, poetic, and evocative, this is a book of great depth and of great truth. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kelly | 9/28/2012

    " Well-written, sad, bits of biting humor. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelsey | 9/27/2012

    " An enjoyable read, but a little depressing. Definitely anxiety-inducing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Scott Mceachern | 7/28/2012

    " Good read. The characters are bright and engaging, passionate and human. The plot veers into unexpected corners, but stays in control for the most part. Englander's prose is tight and spare at points, but tackles the big ideas of shutting down freedom of speech, expression and opinion. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rachel | 7/10/2012

    " Understanding modern literature & historical fiction seem to be the antitheses of each other this novel offers both. EXCELLENT book, should be read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul | 6/11/2012

    " A devastating look at disappeared in Argentina during the Military Rule. Written in a very unique style. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kenneth | 6/6/2012

    " The story was decent, but it seemed a bit forced, like the author really wasn't that familiar with the setting. I'm not saying I am, but I know of families from the area who underwent similar circumstances so maybe I'm projecting. It's a good book, but a bit overrated. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bonnie S | 7/12/2011

    " Since the reviews for this book were so good, I stuck with it however, it was not one of my favorite. I had to force myself to finish it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jake | 5/6/2011

    " Audio Book. Horrible. Not one good thing happened in the book. In Argentina, their kid got taken and they didn't get him back. No one would help, the kid was thrown out of an airplane into the river. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicola | 4/25/2011

    " A very interesting story, a handful of breathtaking sentences. From the reviews, I gather this isn't his best work, so I will try 'Relief of Unbearable Urges' and see.... "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 1/3/2011

    " Felt like a Kafka book to me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle | 11/6/2010

    " Well-written historical fiction based on the sad but real events of Argentina's history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rita | 10/1/2010

    " sort of like a less wordy henry james where it is all about developing the characters and not much plot but so well done theres no need for plot. wonderfully done but sad "

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About the Author
Author Nathan Englander

Nathan Englander’s short fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, Atlantic, and numerous anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. He is the author of the novel The Ministry of Special Cases and the story collection For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, which earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

About the Narrator

Arthur Morey has won three AudioFile Magazine “Best Of” Awards: in 2011 for Biography and History, in for History and Historical Fiction, and in 2009 for Nonfiction and Culture. His work has also garnered twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards, and he has been nominated for an Audie Award. He graduated from Harvard and did graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has won awards for his fiction and drama, worked as an editor with several book publishers, and taught literature and writing at Northwestern University. As a narrator, he has received nineteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and been a finalist for the prestigious Audie Award.