The Slaughterman's Daughter Summary and Reviews

The Slaughterman's Daughter

by Yaniv Iczkovits

The Slaughterman's Daughter by Yaniv Iczkovits X
The Slaughterman's Daughter by Yaniv Iczkovits
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2021
    528 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

An irresistible, picaresque tale of two Jewish sisters in late-nineteenth-century Russia, filled with "boundless imagination and a vibrant style" (David Grossman), and enough intrigue and misadventure to stupefy the Coen brothers.

With her reputation as a vilde chaya (wild animal), Fanny Keismann isn't like the other women in her shtetl in Russia's Pale of Settlement--certainly not her obedient and anxiety-ridden sister, Mende, whose "philosopher" of a husband, Zvi-Meir, has run off to Minsk, abandoning her and their two children. As a young girl, Fanny felt an inexorable pull toward her father's profession of ritual slaughterer and, under his reluctant guidance, became a master with a knife. And though she long ago gave up that unsuitable profession--she's now the wife of a cheesemaker and a mother of five--Fanny still keeps the knife tied to her right leg. Which might come in handy when, heedless of the dangers facing a Jewish woman traveling alone in czarist Russia, she sets off to track down Zvi-Meir and bring him home--with the help of the mute and mysterious ferryman Zizek Breshov, an ex-soldier with his own sensational past.

Yaniv Iczkovits spins a family drama into a far-reaching comedy of errors that will pit the czar's army against the Russian secret police and threaten the very foundations of the Russian Empire. The Slaughterman's Daughter is a rollicking and unforgettable work of fiction.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Occasionally a book comes along so fresh, strange, and original that it seems peerless, utterly unprecedented. This is one of those books...Iczkovits is a superb talent, and this novel is a resounding success. As witty as it is wise, Iczkovits' novel is a profoundly moving caper through the Russian empire." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Iczkovits elevates this cat-and-mouse story into a sweeping narrative with trips down side roads that reveal the riveting backstories of major and minor characters. His observations about human nature, family dynamics, and the interplay between religion and politics come across as wise but never didactic. Ever entertaining, Iczkovits's lively, transportive picaresque takes readers on a memorable ride." - Publishers Weekly

"Offbeat, picaresque...full of invention and surprises. Stories nest inside stories, like Russian dolls. Iczkovits mixes real history, fable, and the products of his imagination into an intoxicating, thoroughly enjoyable brew. - Sunday Times (UK)

"Brilliant, sweeping...Filled with exquisitely drawn characters." - Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"Full of fascinating historical detail. Iczkovits has done his research. But, best of all, is the writing. He is a born storyteller. The novel is packed with terrific characters...This is a book you will not want to put down. It's full of energy, part farce, part adventure story. Iczkovits is clearly a talent to watch and The Slaughterman's Daughter is the place to start." - The Jewish Chronicle (UK)

"An original take on the historical novel that recreates—with a shrewd but affectionate look back at a lost world—Jewish life in the Russian empire at the end of the nineteenth century. [C]haracterized by historical realism but also an element of fantasy, it is also worth noting the novel's brilliant insights and its winning humor. A novel of unquestionable uniqueness." - Judges' Committee, The Agnon Prize

"A miraculous patchwork quilt of individual stories within stories told by different voices, [the] quest for justice is the master story: a feminist picaresque set in a landscape of visionary and intimate historical and physical detail." - George Szirtes

"Combine a thriller with a road story, throw in a page-turning adventure, a few fables, some ethical speculation, a Bildungsroman, and more than one love story, and you get this epic tale. It's witty, wise, exciting, intriguing, sorrowful, joyous, and tender. Full of surprise, understanding, historic sweep, and more than a few murders, The Slaughterman's Daughter keeps you deliciously poised on a keen and beguiling fictional knife-edge." - Gary Barwin

This information about The Slaughterman's Daughter shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

Yaniv Iczkovits

Yaniv Iczkovits is the author of Pulse, Adam and Sophie, and Wittgenstein's Ethical Thought. He held a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University and was a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Tel Aviv. In 2002, he was an inaugural signatory of the "combatants' letter," by which hundreds of Israeli soldiers refused to fight in the occupied territories, and he spent a month in military prison as a result. The Slaughterman's Daughter, his third novel, was awarded the Ramat Gan Prize and the Agnon Prize, and was shortlisted for the Sapir Prize. He lives with his family in Tel Aviv.

Orr Scharf is a lecturer at the University of Haifa and previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. The Slaughterman's Daughter is his first novel-length translation.

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