“In a sick country every step to health is an insult to those who live on its sickness.” – Bernard Malamud
Why I’m Reading this Book?
I heard this book mentioned in a movie. It was said that everyone should read it and it’s a very good book. I’m always on prowl for good books and I keep adding them in my to read list. I’ve checked its reviews and those were very good too. That’s enough reason for me to start a book.
This is not a feel good book and it would move one to tears. Story’s doomed hero Yakov aka fixer is trapped in a kafkaesque situation where he is endlessly waiting for an indictment.
His only sin was being a jew and aspiring towards a better life. These two things together in 18th century’s Tsarist Russia were extremely dangerous situations to be in. Yakov was a simple and very poor man, extremely wary of his life he moved to Kiev, and fell into a situation that kept getting wild by minutes. How , many innocent events came together and woven a wicked web around Yakov is very heart breaking to read.
More saddening were the times when fixer was trying to understand what’s happening, cursing himself, his wife, jews, anti-semites, God. Even though he is a non-practicing jew, he has extreme hatred towards God. He couldn’t accept the fact that there is a God and he is letting all this happen. He found very few people on his side but his enemies were many. A large chunk of the story is Yakov’s conversation with himself. How in this dark situation, he desperately held his sanity, his willingness to live, finding meaning in small things and living one day at a time. Book narrates in detail, dehumanizing process Yakov goes through. How his enemies tried to break his soul and how he was hanging just by a thread. How ordinary people can be very cruel.
What happens to Yakov, why it happens and how he copes up with it is the essence of this book. Yakov was the fixer, he fixed everything and when he fell in this broken situation, he tried to fix that. With whatever meagre tool he had! Best thing about Yakov is that he is a very ordinary guy. He is not educated or an intellectual or rich or with plan or social or brave. He had no weapons to fight against his fate. Yet his story is inspiring. It’s an extraordinary story about a most ordinary man.
My Rating – 5
On the scale of: (1- Hate , 2- Neither like nor dislike, 3- Like, 4- Love, 5- Gaga)
Why anyone else should read this Book?
Not for nothing this book won Pulitzer prize.Although very draining emotion wise, this book should be a must read for everyone. It warns us about time when we stop being human. It tells us what a thing freedom is and how easily can it be taken from us. Written more than 50 years ago, this book is as relevant today as it was then. We learn from history and this book presents a great lesson.
Following quote from book summarize the essence of this book.
Keep in mind, Yakov Shepsovitch, that if your life is without value, so is mine. If the law does not protect you, it will not, in the end, protect me. Therefore I dare not fail you, and that is what causes me anxiety—that I must not fail you.
Written very simply, with around 300 pages, this book is a fast read and will give you too much to think about. I would suggest it to everyone who like serious yet engaging story.
Have you read it? Are you planning to? What is your opinion? Share them here. Till next time, Happy Reading Folks!!!