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Chaim Potok
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 12 1972
"Memorable...A book profound in its vision of humanity, of religion, and of art."
Here is the original, deeply moving story of Asher Lev, the religious boy with an overwhelming need to draw, to paint, to render the world he knows and the pain he feels, on canvas for everyone to see. A loner, Asher has an extroardinary God-given gift that possesses a spirit all its own. It is this force that must learn to master without shaming his people or relinquishing any part of his deeply felt Judaism. It will not be easy for him, but he knows, too, that even if it is impossible, it must be done....
"A novel of finely articulated tragic power...Little short of a work of genius."
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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“A novel of finely articulated tragic power. . . . Little short of a work of genius.” --The New York Times Book Review

“Memorable. . . . Profound in its vision of humanity, of religion, and of art.”--The Wall Street Journal

“Such a feeling of freshness, of something brand-new. . . . Attention-holding and ultimately moving.” --The New York Times

“Engrossing and illuminating.” --Miami Herald

From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

My Name is Asher Lev-Chaim Potok became a favorite author of mine after reading My Name is Asher Lev. I've since had the pleasure of hearing Chaim Potok speak on two occasions. To hear him answer questions regarding Asher Lev and his paintings is evidence of the true craftsmanship of this author. A most amazing part of the story is the integration of Christian ideals in the Jewish character of Asher Lev and his artwork. Its a truly remarkable story.

-Jocelyn Schmidt, Ballantine National Sales Coordinator --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Name is Asher Lev/ A Critical Review July 21 2007
By Andre Lawrence TOP 50 REVIEWER
My Name Is Asher Lev--A Reader's Review

My Name Is Asher Lev. My Name Is Asher Lev. Wow! What a book. If you had told me that more than a hundred and twenty-five pages into the book that I would eventually love it, I would vehemently argue to the contrary.

But, it's true. This story became intriguing. This story became enlightening. This story became exciting. I'll start from the beginning.

This is the story of the family of Rabbi Aryeh Lev, his wife Rivkah, and their only child, Asher. They live in the densely Chasidic area of Crown Heights, in Brooklyn, New York. The story takes place over a twenty-five year period from when Asher was about to start day school.

In the first third of the book, we're treated to a meditation of sorts on the existence of living in the aftermath of a post WW 2 world. Europe was almost completely destroyed. Six million Jews murdered (such acts are called "genocide" not "ethnic cleansing"--there's nothing clean, or pure or even righteous about murder/ genocide). And, the daunting task of Jewish renewal, restoration, and restitution was just beginning.

In the relative safety of a northern US metropolitan city, descendents of European Jews, more specifically (but not limited to) Chasidic Jews made frequent trips abroad to address the needs of cultural and political restoration. This was Aryeh Lev's calling. Lev, a Chasidic Rabbi, came from a long and distinguished line of Rabbis, as author, the late Chaim Potok tells us. Lev married into another distinguished family that had generations of Rabbis. It was in this union that Aryeh wished his young son, Asher would continue the tradition and "not forget his people.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound Dec 12 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Chaim Potok shows profound understanding of what it is to "be" an artist. I read this book for the first time when I was in my teens, and struggling with my need to create versus the need for a reliable source of income. It was astonishing to read such a beautifully written description of what had been going on in my head since I was a small child!
Now, as I am heading into middle life, I have just reread "My Name is Asher Lev", and it is like a homecoming of sorts. I am again nodding my head and thinking "yes!". The artist inside will not rest until it is expressed. The story, and it's inspiring characters still speak to me on a very deep level, and again, I am struck by Mr.Potok's insight into the artist's mind and being.
While some aspects of orthodox Judaism - such as the reaction of Asher's father to Asher's work - are very disturbing in the book, Chaim Potok sensitively portrays Hasidism as a very meaningful and inherently beautiful way of life, and I appreciate having been enlightened even a little to what it is all about.
I could not possibly begin to explain how profound this book has been for me. I am eternally grateful to Chaim Potok for this timeless work of art.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jewish Christian Relations Sept. 16 2002
The book "My Name Is Asher Lev" must have done something emotional to me because this is the first book review I have written. From my perspective- A Jew and art teacher/author I would like to add that his book shows that an artist has what is called "the artist way of looking at things". The artist- by genes- was born to see the world differently even though he was born into the most religious fundamentalist of families. Who will win out in the end, genetics or family- wow!!! Another great message in this book is how even after years of persecution of the Jews by Christianity ( this book takes place in the years right after WWII) the Jews have to reconcile with Christianity and not through the baby out with the bath water. That is using art in this example- even a crucification- can have artistic value and meaning to a Jew who has suffered. Even a "nude" can have value and is part of the world even if nudity is offensive to anyone (not just Jews or Hasidic Jews). Thus this book is more popular today and meaningful to most especially when the Jewish world is now a world player again and Jews and Christians or even other faiths are cherishing what is more common between us than what is not. I think this is what Chaim Potok as a Rabbi really meant to happen through his work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A solid story... May 12 2000
I gave this book three stars, because it was not as powerful as Potok's The Chosen. Still, in all it is a solid story that any fan of Potok will enjoy. However, If you are new to Potok, I recommend reading The Chosen before reading this novel.
This novel depicts the difficulties experienced by a Hasidic boy with a gift for painting. The story slowly develops, but builds to a marvelous crescendo. Potok does a great job of describing the alienation and difficulties of being overtaken by something that goes beyond cultural and familial influence. As in The Chosen, Potok presents us with a boy who is splintered between the spiritual basis of his upbringing and the world at large, which causes great strife between young Asher and his family. Potok, as always, does a great job of making the Hasidic Jewish culture accessible to any reader.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars For creative people, this is a story that describes ...
For creative people, this is a story that describes the war within. It puts words to your struggle to let your feelings out in an expression of some sort... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Stephen Noble
2.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not his best work
I recently read another book by Chaim Potok and have since been devouring anything of his I can find. This book was, however, disappointing. Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for the Brooklyn Prodigy
My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok is a remarkable story from the first page to the last. Potok takes the reader on a captivating journey through the complex mind and painful... Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Elizabeth Kirkwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Torn Apart
Torn. Torn between the two incompatible worlds of Art and Judaism is the life that Asher Lev lives. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by "malekak"
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best
I'm a teenage kid with a busy life of school and other things, but all that just stopped as soon as I picked up this book. Have mercy on my soul, this book was good. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004 by The Guitar
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Chaim Potok.....
I'm speechless. Thank you, Mr. Potok. May your memory live on through your work.....
Published on Dec 22 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful Boring Put-you-to-sleep-by-reading-it
I read maybe...3 Chapters of this book in my Act class at school and I found particularily useless. This is NOT a book i felt that the school board should be making middle school... Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2003 by Eternity
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
A story about a young man's struggle between the secular world of an artist, and life as a Ladover Hasidic Jew, Chaim Potok's masterpiece... Read more
Published on Aug. 26 2003 by Ratmammy
4.0 out of 5 stars Art Versus Culture
I was hesitant to read this book at first, but I was quickly won over. My Name is Asher Lev is the story of a boy growing up as a Hasidic Jew who finds, to the great regret of his... Read more
Published on Aug. 19 2003 by Charents
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring for all ages
As apart of my High School English class, I was assigned to read My Name Is Asher Lev. I really didn't feel like reading any books about some kid who has problems with how the way... Read more
Published on May 8 2003
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