BookBrowse Reviews The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Ministry of Special Cases

A Novel

By Nathan Englander

The Ministry of Special Cases
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Apr 2007,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2008,
    352 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

Englander's powerful and poignant novel probes the depths of identity and loss, and how societies and individuals contribute to their own undoing

Englander's relatively short but immensely powerful first novel is set in 1976 at the start of the Dirty War, a 7-year campaign by the Argentine military government against suspected subversives. Kaddish (named for the Jewish prayer of mourning) always has a new scheme for making money. He earns his latest erratic source of income by breaking into a walled off cemetery at dead of night in order to chisel the names of Jewish whores and pimps off their gravestones, so that their respectable second generation children can erase their own pasts. This is the same past that Kaddish, the son of an immigrant whore, proudly embraces, which makes him an effective untouchable to the Jewish community as a whole. Meanwhile, his wife, stoical and reliable Lillian, ...

Nathan Englander was brought up as an Orthodox Jew, educated at a yeshiva in suburban Long Island, and now lives in New York. His favorite reading are Russian novelists such as Gogol, Dostoevsky and Chekhov; also Kafka and Camus. It took him eight years to write The Ministry of Special Cases following the publication of his bestselling short stories, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, which he wrote while living in Israel.

When asked to what extent religion influences his writing he replies, "I don't think I could introduce myself to a stranger, or even see my oldest friend, and make it ten seconds without saying that I'm Jewish, or referencing it in some way. That's me. But I don't consider myself a Jewish writer, and I ...

Members Only

BookBrowse's reviews and backstories are a members-only benefit. Full information is available on books for a limited time when they are featured as "Editor's Choices" - but that time has now elapsed for this book.

click to join
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Shotgun Lovesongs
    Shotgun Lovesongs
    by Nickolas Butler
    Nickolas Butler's debut novel, Shotgun Lovesongs, follows five life-long friends, now in their mid-...
  • Book Jacket: Gemini
    Gemini
    by Carol Cassella
    How good is Gemini, Carol Cassella's book about a Seattle intensive care physician who becomes ...
  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

There is no worse robber than a bad book.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.