Excerpt from The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Ministry of Special Cases

A Novel

By Nathan Englander

The Ministry of Special Cases

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Had Kaddish known the origins of his name, he wouldn't have felt cursed. He was happy with his family. He believed in a bright future for his son. And as creaky as his knees were when he climbed that wall, as lightly and with as little oomph as he tried to land, he hadn't given up on his own self either. If she'd acknowledged him in the intervening twenty-five years, Kaddish would have told Lila Finkel she was partly right. Hard as life got, there was something to living it with a little hope. Maybe that was why Kaddish never needed his fellow Jews any more than they needed him.

This was the balance maintained through the Montoneros and the ERP and after Onganía was overthrown. During those two decades, the community prospered and attained status. And Kaddish was convinced he'd have prospered most of all had any of his schemes worked out.

The Jews didn't feel any great need to take stock when Perón returned to power. It surely didn't make them think about Kaddish Poznan's treatment all those years. The community did give a collective twitch when, during Perón's welcome home, there was a small massacre in the welcoming crowd. There were some in Once and Villa Crespo who bounced their knees nervously throughout Perón's short reign and two brothers in two big houses in Palermo who began to bite their nails in earnest when he died.

Excerpted from The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander Copyright © 2007 by Nathan Englander. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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