Read Die Unamerikanischen by Molly Antopol Online


"Eine Meistererzählerin, die die emotionale Wucht einer Nicole Krauss und den Witz eines Philip Roth vereint." Jesmyn WardUnverhofft findet Howard in Sveta, einer jungen Frau aus der Ukraine, seine späte große Liebe. Doch noch am ersten Tag ihrer Hochzeitsreise nach Kiew stellt sich das Glück als Irrtum heraus: Die Gefühle, die Sveta in New York für ihn empfand, zerfallen"Eine Meistererzählerin, die die emotionale Wucht einer Nicole Krauss und den Witz eines Philip Roth vereint." Jesmyn WardUnverhofft findet Howard in Sveta, einer jungen Frau aus der Ukraine, seine späte große Liebe. Doch noch am ersten Tag ihrer Hochzeitsreise nach Kiew stellt sich das Glück als Irrtum heraus: Die Gefühle, die Sveta in New York für ihn empfand, zerfallen in ihrer Heimat zu Staub. Nie hat Howard sich so einsam gefühlt wie jetzt, in dieser fremden Stadt, die sein Großvater einst für ein Leben in Amerika zurückgelassen hatte. Molly Antopols Geschichten sind kleine Wunderwerke. Drei Generationen und Kontinente passen in eine einzige ihrer mit verblüffender Leichtigkeit geschriebenen Erzählungen über die unverdrossene Suche nach Liebe und Glück, nach Halt in dieser den seismischen Kräften der Geschichte ausgesetzten Welt....

Title : Die Unamerikanischen
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9783446247710
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Die Unamerikanischen Reviews

  • Trish
    2019-05-20 11:26

    It hardly seems credible that this 2014 debut collection was written by a woman recognized as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” in 2013. She has such old eyes.Antopol’s stories have very clear and inescapable hooks; we readers recognize, accept, and ultimately rejoice in her power over us. Once begun, her stories are impossible to resist. We stretch them out, hoping they will last the night, the week. The human element in her characters is painfully evident and we wish to see how someone else would solve the familiar and not-as-familiar dilemmas we face. This glorious collection is a lasting achievement. In “The Old World,” an aging divorcee marries a new immigrant from the Old World and wonders how he could be so lucky. In “Minor Heroics,” two Israeli brothers show their love and admiration for each other in the rough-and-tumble way brothers do, but when much more than adolescent pride is at stake. In “My Grandmother Tells Me This Story,” a grandmother tells a granddaughter with a personality too much like her own to dial herself down a notch and “enjoy yourself for once…rather than scratching at…these horrible things that happened before you were born.”In “The Quietest Man” an insecure college professor estranged from his wife feels trepidation when he learns his daughter has written a play that will be performed Off Broadway in New York. He is certain it will reveal his daughter’s perceptions of weaknesses in his nature, in his marriage, in his inability to communicate convincingly with her. All these stories have a foot in two worlds: the Old World from which parents and grandparents came, and the America to which they came. It is this wide and long perspective that gives Antopol’s stories their heft and depth and that feeling we get of “old eyes.” She seems to have understood and internalized the conflicts and conundrums faced by those tortured or jailed for their dissent in both countries. In “The Unknown Soldier,” an actor who had been jailed for his Communist Party affiliation in Hollywood during the McCarthy era is shown to have been guilty only of inattention and shallowness rather than affiliation. His son is not as hard on him as he is on himself.It is difficult to choose a favorite from among these stellar stories, but if forced to pick one I suppose it would be the last, “Retrospective,” which twists our emotions this way and that and ends with a surprise that feels like dread. No matter how kind Antopol is to her characters (who look remarkably familiar in situations we have met before), she does not always give us a painless ending. “Beware,” the epigraph should read, “There is truth here.”

  • Perry
    2019-05-20 12:16

    All the Lonely People, Where Do They All Come From?Final Short Story is the Best I've Read Since Joyce's "The Dead""The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly." The Great Gatsby, F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Gatsby quote came to mind upon finishing "Retrospective," the final, juggernaut story in these collected thought-provoking stories that primarily revolve around Jews in WW II Europe, in Israel, as well as communists and the red scare in the McCarthy era U.S. In "Retrospective," Ms. Antopol quilts a vivid landscape for what seems a conventional route for the reader's tour. My thinking while reading it: I know where this is headed, seen a lot of this before. Some turbulence, but I can set her on autopilot; four more to go, take foot off gas, coast; now put right foot easily on brake, and ..... WHAM! It's not a contrived shock ending. I wish I could do justice to this story, but all I can do is say I was left speechless with my jumbled, racing thoughts after a final sweeping imagery that dropped like a boulder on my heart and left me feeling so isolated for a few fleeting moments that I felt my only remedy was my eternal consciousness, hope and faith. That story.... left me breathless.It's the best short story I've read in many years, and the only one, besides The Dead, I can firmly place within Kafka's description of what a perfect story should be: "the axe for the frozen sea inside us.". The other tales hit on a wide variety of relationships and a font of differing emotions, the common thread seemingly the character's revelation of self through alienation either caused by the circumstances or their own ego, including:an elderly widower, remarrying late in life, desperately wanting to belong to an old world culture (and religion);an Israeli soldier's desire for his amputee brother's love and to be an important part of their family contrasted with his selfish yearning for his brother's girlfriend and his guilt from what seems on track to be much more;a woman's lonesomeness borne of her fear and the poisonous resentment she developed in being a 13-year-old Jewish girl escaping the Nazis through sewers then living in hiding and nearly starving during the coldest winter ever;a older man's wounded pride from his lost status in the world causing a painful isolation from his only daughter; a teen daughter's alienation from normal society in living within the narrow world of her father, a communist party leader in the U.S. during the Eisenhower years, and her eagerness to do anything to escape isolation; and,a man's disaffection from losing his relationship with his wife and 10-year-old son due to his self-centeredness.I highly recommend this book.

  • Teresa
    2019-05-14 19:32

    Antopol's characters are on the move. They were born in Kiev, Belarus, Prague, the Bronx, Tel Aviv, Moscow and Boston, though they live in New York, California, Maine, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with no guarantee they'll stay put. Each story has a political element, as fitting for its time and place; yet, with one notable exception, these stories could be set anywhere: a newly divorced man and a widow quickly falling for each other; a playwright-daughter yearning for her father's approval; a father reconnecting with his young son after a stint in prison.The collection had to grow on me. I wasn't too impressed with the first story and one sentence in particular had me extremely frustrated. (I made my peace with the sentence after I finished the book.) The next two were better, though in each there was at least one phrase that jarred. I started hoping that all the stories wouldn't be written in the first person, wondering if that was my issue. And perhaps it was, because I fell in love with the third-to-last story (there are nine) and then even deeper into the final story, both third-person accounts. Those two are also the longest of the collection and their sentences, full of clauses (which I loved tracking), are as exuberant as the characters they describe.Antopol's stories are full of happenings, but it is the characters that drive them. Her characters are contradictory, finding themselves doing things and saying things they thought they weren't capable of. After horrible experiences, they've changed or they haven't, most change being temporary. They overshare; they don't share enough. They analyze; they're stuck in a rut they don't see until it's too late. They're restless; they're listless. They live.

  • Larry H
    2019-04-29 12:34

    There was a time when I didn't read short stories, because I said I didn't like getting emotionally invested in characters and plot only to have to move on a short while later. It was a foolish sentiment, in retrospect, one which I abandoned about 15 years ago when I realized how rich the short story landscape truly was, filled with talented authors creating stories with the power of full-length novels, stories whose characters intrigued me and made me long to know more about what happened to them when the stories ended.Molly Antopol's new collection, The UnAmericans, is one of the reasons I'm glad I read short stories. Every one of the eight stories in this collection packed a quiet power, richly drawn characters, and tremendously compelling explorations of human emotion in typical and unusual situations.The characters in Antopol's stories are Jewish people spanning the 1950s through the present. Whether it's the former Czech dissident-turned-New England professor in "The Quietest Man," who tries to find out from his estranged daughter what her new play will say about their strained relationship; the restless Israeli journalist desperate to once again leave her country in search of work, but can't seem to get herself disentangled from a relationship with a widower and his teenage daughter, in "A Difficult Phase"; the actor recently released from prison after refusing to name names during the McCarthy era in "The Unknown Soldier," who has reinvented himself to get roles but can't seem to even act the part of good father to his young son; the young Israeli soldier in "Minor Heroics," who finds his loyalty to his family tested after an accident; or the woman recounting her exploits in the Yiddish Underground during World War II in "My Grandmother Tells Me This Story," these are seemingly ordinary people facing challenges that test their strength and their heart.After I finished every one of these stories, I simply thought to myself, "That was so good!" Antopol's use of language and imagery, as well as the emotional richness with which she imbues her characters, really makes this a tremendously strong collection. It doesn't matter that I couldn't identify with the situations most of these people found themselves in; I just wanted to keep reading about them. And usually when I read, I'm struck by a sentence or two, something I like to use in my reviews, but there were so many amazing sentences in these stories it became an exercise of excess.I've always felt that a good short story keeps you thinking about the characters after it has ended, and in many cases, you'd be willing to read more about them. I felt that way about nearly every story in The UnAmericans. I'm so glad I found this collection, and look forward to seeing what's next in Molly Antopol's career. I know we'll be hearing from her again soon.

  • Jill
    2019-04-25 16:15

    A title such as “The UnAmericans” begs this question: what is an American? Or more specifically, what is an American in Molly Antopol’s world?A traditional answer might be to have a personal sense of identity and to be unencumbered to pursue one’s most shining hopes and dreams in a land where anything is possible. Molly Antopol’s characters are mostly Jewish and they are mostly alienated – from spouse or kids, from past ideology and beliefs, and often, from their most authentic selves. Each story is a little gem onto itself.We meet an American actor of Russian ancestry who has eschewed his Russian past, only to leverage it in order win a part with a leftist film director. Fingered during the McCarthy era, he goes to prison in support of beliefs that aren’t even truly his. Upon release, he spends a weekend with his admiring 10-year-old son and comes face-to-face with his hypocrisy.In one of my favorites, A Difficult Phase, a downsized Israeli journalist –floundering in her life – begins to question her life choices when she meets an attractive widower and his young teenage daughter. “This is what she was good at: being the blank, understanding face across the table; putting people so at ease they revealed the things they didn’t want to share with anyone, the things they wished didn’t exist at all.”Another story, The Old World, focuses on a middle-aged tailor who meets and marries a Ukrainian widow, and travels with her back to her hometown, only to discover that he is a poor substitute for her dead husband. He reflects on his grown daughter who is a “born-again Jew”: “Maybe in religion, Beth really had discovered a way never to be alone. Maybe I am the lost one, wandering the streets of Kiev, competing with a dead man.”Other stories are equally well-crafted and psychologically acute: a decorated Israeli solder comes home and suffers a fluke accident, which sets in play some poignant dynamics between him and his brother. A political dissident in Russia discovers that his neglected daughter has written an autobiographical play with himself as a key character. A young American woman and her Israeli husband must face the reality of their marriage, which is “so scary and real it required an entirely different language, new and strange and yet to be invented.”Psychologically astute, subtlety crafted and haunted, this is a confident and poised debut, which may very well end up on my Top Ten of 2014 list. There is not one mediocre story in this whole remarkable collection. It's one of the best debut story collections in years.

  • Julia Fierro
    2019-05-20 19:16

    Masterful writing. Nuanced characterization, urgent and compelling stories, this is a writer to watch and to learn from. I'm very excited to interview Molly Antopol at the 5 Under 35 National Book Awards, along with the other nominees. There is a keenly compassionate observation of the micro and macro struggles of humanity in these stories, and I admire her greatly for it. And one more thing, many of these stories have a delightfully neurotic humor. My favorite kind.

  • Maciek
    2019-05-03 15:31

    The UnAmericans is a very pleasant surprise, especially considering the state of contemporary western short story. Most contemporary collections of short stories - especially debut ones - don't tend to contain actual stories anymore; they're mostly comprised of individual situations (often very fantastical) which often do paint distinct images, but fail to provide a story to surround them with and interesting characters to drive them forward. There are of course notable exceptions, such as Karen Russell, but they're few and far between. Which is why Molly Antopol's debut collection is such a pleasant surprise. The UnAmericans is a set of real stories populated with real people, linked by the oldest topic in the world - search for personal identity and their relationships with others. However, the stories are varied and expansive, with a real interest in history and personal journeys of their protagonists. An elderly grandmother remembers her youth in occupied Belarus, and reassesses the actions of the Jewish underground resistance; A struggling actor returns to his eschewed Russian roots to gain part in a leftist film project ; A young girl struggles with the life as a daughter of the Communist Party leader in Los Angeles at the height of McCarthyism.No one wants to listen to a man lament his solitary nights, opens the beginning story, >i>The Old World - perhaps an allusion to Martin Amis's famous opening paragraph of The Information - where Howard Siegel a middle-aged tailor and a recent divorcee decides to flirt with Sveta, one of his clients. Howard and Sveta are both from Ukraine - he's left it as a young boy and is now a fully adapted American, while Sveta's left with her former, deceased husband and is still learning English. They develop a relationship and eventually decide to go together to Kiev, the city of Sveta's birth and youth, for an unexpected and sad and a bit mysterious ending to their story. I thoroughly enjoyed Molly Antopol's debut and would definitely read more of her work. The author note at the end of the book mentions that she is currently working at a novel; it's one that I'd like to read and look forward to.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-03 11:21

    The stories in the The UnAmericans struck a chord in me. Each one of these wise and generous stories contains an entire world and feels like a mini novel. The book title isn't just a random title of one of the stories -but perfectly describes each story. I couldn't help referring several times to the very young looking photo of Antopol on the dust jacket. So impressive.

  • Owen
    2019-05-19 15:22

    According to the cover of this book, Adam Johnson (author of The Orphan Master's Son) describes Molly Antopol as "a writer of seismic talent." After reading The UnAmericans, I could not agree more. Antopol is a master craftswoman of words and her writing is extraordinary. It is so nice to find an author that you immediately love and I can't wait for her to start putting out more stories and hopefully novels. Many, if not all, of these stories are about Israel/Russia and being Jewish/from the Soviet Union. Antopol writes that her family history inspired some of the stories in this collection. But she makes it feel universal, as if anyone's family history can be made into stories such as these. The UnAmericans starts off strongly with "The Old World", in which a man falls for a woman, only to learn she may have been mistaken in marrying him. Each story in this collection is like that, with potential tragedy and deep emotions. However, there is also humor and lightheartedness as well which creates a nice balance.I guess I would say that the theme of this collection is what it is like being human and experiencing life. Although the stories feature characters who are Jewish and/or Eastern European, anyone could enjoy this collection. Antopol creates plausible scenarios, realistic problems, and natural-sounding dialogue. The UnAmericans is fairly short and a quick read, but I know I will go back and reread these stories, finding more each time I revisit them. It is hard to express how satisfied I am after reading this. Of course, it has some flaws but that only makes it better. I did not love every story but I got something out of each one, and for the first time in a long time after reading fiction, I feel like Antopol's characters, the "UnAmericans", could be real people. And not just because they resemble her family members. All of them are ordinary people and each has a story, things like whether they were part of the Communist party or had lost someone they really cared about. I am rarely optimistic about anything but, I don't know, this book kind of made me feel good. Sure there are bad parts and a lot of sadness, but the aspects of family and perseverance and recreation were a nice break from the dark, depressing books I often read. There is still so much to be said about this collection of short stories but I will let the book speak for itself. The UnAmericans is the best book I've read in a while and it became an instant favorite of mine and I could not recommend it highly enough.

  • Douglas
    2019-05-18 15:34

    Exceptional collection by a very talented writer. I think my favorite story was "My Grandmother Tells Me This Story". I can see the comparisons to Philip Roth in some of these. I think there were a couple of moments that could've been better. There was one story set in the 1950s, but the use of language didn't seem to match. Overall, this is an impressive debut, and I look forward to her future works.

  • Emily
    2019-05-14 15:11

    I LOVED this - very unexpectedly. I am usually not a fan of short story collections, as I find it difficult to switch gears between stories. For this book, each story was so self-contained and well-written that I didn't mind - but I did have to pause between each story to really let them sink in. My favorite of the book is probably "Retrospective," the last story, in which an Israeli man is forced to reconsider his marriage once his wife's grandmother dies. I also loved "The Quietest Man," where an absentee father finds out that his daughter is writing a play about their family, and "A Difficult Phase," in which a journalist attempts to disentangle herself from a widower she's dating and his teenage daughter. But really, all of these are very good, with gorgeous writing and strong characterization. Molly Antopol can jump from a teenage girl escaping the Nazis to an older, divorced man who runs a dry cleaning business in New York without breaking a sweat.Adam Johnson is quoted on this book as saying, "A writer of seismic talent," which is the kind of thing that normally makes me roll my eyes. In this case, it's totally warranted: Molly Antopol is a writer of seismic talent. I am more than excited for her to come out with a novel.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-04-29 19:14

    3.5 The thread connecting all these stories is that of the immigrant, hence unamericans. They take place in different times and places. Ordinary people often caught up in matters beyond their control, how tenuous are the connections between people and how they react to these changed circumstances. All looking for clues, their own road maps for the future.These stories are extremely well written, some seem to be so fully contained they seemed much longer than they appear, fully realized stories. I for some reason, found myself drawn to the story, "Minor Heroes, even though it was rather sad, based on a personal tragedy, I identified with Oren. Though really all the stories are very good and this is definitely a writer to watch.

  • Loes Dissel
    2019-05-15 19:18

    " She grabbed his arm and asked what was wrong. But for the first time, Boaz couldn't think of a single word to describe this kind of loneliness, so scary and real it required an entirely different language, new and strange and yet to be invented.".

  • LitReactor
    2019-05-11 19:28

    The third story in this collection bears the title "My Grandmother Tells Me This Story" and that captures the overall flavor of Antopol’s work: wordy, comforting, unreliable in the details. These are stories told over coffee at the local deli, elbows on the table and bagel crumbs on the plate, or at night after dinner, while the coffee brews. There’s a sense of oral history here which is quite beguiling, but also, because Antopol is skilled, of the way the stories we tell reveal more about who we are than about actual events.The success of this approach varies from story to story and Antopol is strongest when political strife forms the backdrop. Novak of "The Quietest Man" embroiders his political past in Communist Czechoslovakia for his daughter’s play based on his life. "Duck and Cover" tells a story of McCarthy-era sexual awakening which would earn an approving nod from the likes of Margaret Atwood. In others — "Minor Heroics" and "A Difficult Phase", both set in modern Israel — she is less surefooted. The strife exists, we all know that, but it’s almost invisible here, and without the sense of wider oppression and discord to focus the action, her stories tend to ramble.That said this is an assured debut from a writer with talent and energy. I will be interested to see what Antopol produces next.--Review by Cath MurphyCheck out more from this review at LitReactor (!

  • Steph Green
    2019-05-11 14:05

    I read a review of this book on NPR and since I do enjoy a good collection of short stories, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I was a bit disappointed by this collection, though. I feel a little out of place with my three-star review after perusing the many, many four- and five-star ratings here, but I'm sticking with my initial reaction. My basic problem with the collection was not with the writing, which, sentence to sentence, was excellent. I found Antopol's stories inconsistent in terms of character development and relatability, which meant that, while reading several of the stories, I found myself bored and unengaged, despite the marvelous descriptions of setting. There is a lot of good work in this collection. Some of the stories, like My Grandmother Tells Me This Story, about Eastern European Jewish refugees during World War II, are gripping and vivid. Others, though, like Duck and Cover, about communists in Southern California during the McCarthy area, left me completely cold. All of the stories feature Jewish protagonists, many of whom are struggling with questions of identity – religious, national, familial, or otherwise. These are broad questions and provide fertile ground for interesting storytelling, and sometimes, Antopol nails it. But the stories varied too widely for me to wholeheartedly recommend this book.

  • Carl R.
    2019-05-05 15:28

    Not since Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision, have I read a set of stories that so captured the heart of immigrant and ex-pat America. I don’t mean to belittle Molly Antopol by saying that her The UnAmericans doesn’t quite measure up to Pearlman’s work. She’s so very young, after all, having just received an award for under-35′ers, and she has a long time to develop her prodigious talent. Plus, I haven’t read any collection by anybody save maybe Munro or Chekov that compares with Pearlman. However, Antopol both in subject matter and impact does approach the quality of Binocular Vision. I always have trouble reviewing short story collections because it seems one has to pick either a favorite or a couple of single stories that typify the whole. Which seems sort of like picking favorite chapters from a novel. But, gun to my head, I’d have to point to the opening story “The Old World” about a widower who falls in love with a Ukrainian woman. It’s rather remarkable that Antopol’s able to get these two oldsters right, given her youth. But she does. And we end up in Kiev (how many post-Tolstoy stories go there?) for a sad and mysterious ending that’s well and truly drawn.And skipping all the way to the end, you’ll have a hard time beating “Retrospective” about a fresh marriage between a couple of Americans with close ties to Israel who go to Jerusalem to help settle the estate of the wife’s grandmother. The ending is one of those surprising, yet inevitable moments of anagnorisis that leaves you nearly breathless.And thought she proves herself more than proficient in creating male protagonists, women get their due as well. Talia in “A Difficult Phase” pulls us into what is literally a very thorny situation, and we’re never sure whether she escapes or not.Just a sample, inadequately described. This is a writer and a book well worth the time of any reader. And I’m sure we’ll hear more from her.

  • Chris Blocker
    2019-04-29 12:25

    The UnAmericans is a wonderful new collection of short stories. Molly Antopol does an amazing job giving a sense of urgency to these stories, making them feel more novelistic in scope. In a matter of a few pages, I was completely drawn into the tale and felt like I'd spent more time with these characters than just those few pages. These stories are intelligent and well-written, though nothing new or startling in terms of craft and style. They're emotional and really capture those idiosyncrasies that make us human. Antopol's characters often react in ways that are shocking, yet understandable—even familiar.What attracted me to this collection was the title. I loved it. Ironically, the title ended up being the one thing I felt left this book disjointed. Other than largely focusing on a cast of non-Americans, there was nothing “UnAmerican” about this collection. I kept looking for that hint of dissent, for that rejection of “American values”—something that made this “Unamerican.” There are many other titles that would've been a better choice logically, but they wouldn't have caught my attention the same, so The UnAmericans it is.

  • Tuck
    2019-05-18 18:21

    this debut came with lots of hype and power blurbs, which is ok by me, let'em blurb. but instead of new and exciting these semi-connected stories are as mannered and fashioned as could be. stories of the horrible stew made before, during, and after wwii in eastern europe (ukraine), the scifi horror show of ussr from 1945-1991, and the many lives and families, if they survived it all, flung to the far corners of nyc and all points imaginable in between. stories to recommend to your teabag uncle, or cuss word and drugs phobic aunt, stories that could have come from andrea barrett or o'hara, or better, hemon and obreht. plus you get to learn all about the place called antopol.

  • Kasa Cotugno
    2019-05-23 18:09

    It would be impossible to pick a favorite from this collection, and the fact that it is a debut makes it all the more remarkable. Each is set against a larger canvas of history, but is a microcosm of life. Most of the characters face huge issues, nothing is rudimentary. No surprise that Antopol, a Stegner Fellow and professor at Stanford, has already received such acclaim. Her writing is deep and meaty without a superfluous word.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-04 12:19

    I loved these stories. Antopol's a powerhouse of a writer who nails the way people behave in families and relationships. The stories do a beautiful job of incorporating the broader historical and political landscapes while creating fascinating characters. They truly feel expansive. The last collection I devoured this quickly was Alice Munro's A Friend of My Youth. In fact the scope and depth of these stories often remind me of Munro -- as does the elegant and authoritative prose style.

  • Dan
    2019-05-24 17:08

    I just finished reading these beautiful stories and I'm still in that frozen, barely able to move state I get into after finishing a great book. In other words, if this book had been a movie, I'd have just sat there at the end watching the credits roll, praying it never ended. A little Nicole Krauss, a little Bernard Malamud, a little Jonathan Franzen. So glad I scored an ARC!

  • Laura
    2019-05-18 12:14

    Looking at the impressive endorsements on the back cover, as well as the overwhelmingly positive reviews here on GoodReads, I’m wondering what I missed. I enjoyed many of the individual stories, but the collection as a whole doesn’t work for me. The good: I like the concept – stories about contemporary Jewish life, about alienation and despondency. (The title is a clever play on this, but in the end, somewhat distracting and unintentionally political, I believe.) I love how quickly Antopol was able to establish character and setting, often within a couple key sentences. That’s an incredible skill. There were a couple seminal moments in this book that were so beautifully described, that felt so specific and real to me. I’m thinking of the expatriate returning to post-Socialist Kiev. The angry grandmother trying to correct her granddaughter’s assumptions. The 30-year-old journalist coping with her professional failure. If I read any of these stories individually in the New Yorker, I’d be a big fan. So what’s the problem? 5 of the 8 stories were essentially about the same thing: public heroes and their private failures. The other 3 were also thematically overlapping: about the loss of one’s rooting or home. The lack of diversity in this collection took away from each individual story and made the collection somewhat tedious. Just the same thing over and over again. It’s really unfortunate.

  • Emily Simpson
    2019-05-17 19:16

    Admission: This rating has far less to do with the quality of sentences or sentiments in the collection (it's very well written), and more to do with my exhaustion with the subject matter. Feel free to judge me.

  • Jason Diamond
    2019-05-07 11:25

    I love me a good collection of short stories with a bunch of Jewish characters. Stellar stuff.

  • Rebecca
    2019-05-21 11:11

    From a purely aesthetic perspective, these short stories are well-written. I struggled with the rating on this one because I enjoyed reading the stories as stories, and found them full of interesting insights. At the same time, that this was done so well made it more important to me that it was possible for the author to create a representation of Israel from which Palestinians are so completely absent. It's a perfect fantasy in a time where the justification for this state's existence hangs on the belief in this very fantasy version of the state. That the Palestinians just don't exist makes the stories of Israel a window into the Zionist worldview and mythology: making the desert bloom, enjoying the seaside, but never noticing or acknowledging an ongoing staggering human rights crisis. The memory of the Holocaust is ever present, but the reality of Palestinians is not acknowledged. In an interview with the Rumpus, Antopol commented that she didn't want to engage the "Arab-Israeli" question because she didn't want to make the novel about politics. However, with this avoidance, she did not avoid politics, so much as erase an entire people. I was interested in this novel because of the HUAC stories, but I also found these to be the least interesting of the bunch, not capturing the time period or the characters especially well.

  • Lavinia
    2019-05-17 18:35

    Molly, what a nice surprise!

  • Sasha
    2019-05-17 14:11

    “But there was no denying how painful it was to be in a family that had always seemed so confused by her for stubbornly studying the languages of all the places they’d never go, as if it were some geeky form of rebellion, rather than what learning them had always been to her, a shield against loneliness.”"Maybe her need to travel, to hear other people’s stories, to make a name for herself—maybe it had never been ambition and curiosity that drove her but the plain and simple fear that she wouldn’t know how to face real life."Oof. Weighty stories with a delicate, but not excessively light or comical, touch.

  • Downward
    2019-04-24 13:15

    It is comforting in a sense to read a collection of stories so traditionally rendered, so devoid of gimmickry, that the entire weight of each tale is on the evolution of character and situation resulting in emotional climax. These stories, delicate and brutal, all about the Jewish experience in America, in Israel, in Ukraine, all touch on cultural and psychological truths that push past any sort of insular boundaries. The strongest of the stories here, one about a father dealing with his daughter writing a play about his life, dives into the selfishness and egotism of the main character without sacrificing the sympathy that we build toward him: his narcissism disgusts us, but it is through this narcissism that we access his insecurity and humanity. The weaker tales treat their main characters more gently, but still deliver on moments that prod your guts, making you turn the page. A good, good collection.

  • Simone Subliminalpop
    2019-05-06 19:21

    Ottima raccolta di racconti d'esordio (anche se per maturità di scrittura e narrazione non si direbbe), dove non uno dei singoli episodi è al di sotto del “molto buono” (i miei preferiti 'Luna di miele con nostalgia' e 'L'uomo più silenzioso'). C'è tanta Storia e tantissime storie in queste pagine, il lavoro dietro ogni vicenda si sente e, cosa ben più importante, arriva al lettore. Occhio attento, ma di ampie vedute, scrittura molto classica, al limite dell'impeccabile, che spazia nei luoghi e nel tempo: ebrei emigrati in America, maccartismo, kibbutz in Israele, Europa e Russia. Potrà sembrare esagerato, ma Molly Antonpol è già un'autrice che non ha nulla da invidiare ai grandi maestri di natura ebraica del racconto.

  • Sarah Johnson
    2019-04-25 11:11

    Wow, what a debut! This is the best short story collection I've read in ages. The stories travel through history and place to explore characters from different cultures but alike in their humanity. Her descriptions of emotional experience were so compelling I read them over and over again. A man and a young woman meet in a coffee shop and have an affair. The man is grieving his wife, and the woman sees in moments so lost in a moment, that she understands his dislocation - his wife is gone, he is lost - and she moves towards him. We meet fathers and daughters, lovers, grand parents, and other characters working to connect, to understand each other, and often to survive.I highly recommend this book.