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The Messiah of Stockholm [Paperback]

Cynthia Ozick
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 12 1988 Vintage International
A small group of Jews weave a web of intrigue and fantasy around a book reviewer's contention that he is the son of Borus Schultz, the legendary Polish writer killed by the Nazis before his magnum opus, THE MESSIAH, could be brought to light.

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Product Details

Product Description

From Library Journal

Lars Andeming, perhaps overly intellectual and certainly eccentric, is the Monday book reviewer for a Stockholm daily. He is also the self-proclaimed son of Bruno Schulz, a Polish writer who was executed by the Nazis before his last novel, The Messiah, could be published. When a manuscript of The Messiah mysteriously appears in Stockholm, in the possession of Schulz's "daughter," Lars's circumscribed world of paper, apartment, and favorite bookstore turns upside down, catapulting him into a whirlwind of dream, magic, and illusion. Ozick's linguistic agility and inventive imagination, while uniquely her own, remind one of Isaac B. Singer at his inventive best. Enthusiastically recommended for general fiction collections. Marcia G. Fuchs, Guilford Free Lib., Ct.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A truly intriguing mystery...Ozick brings off effects comparable to those of Isaac Bashevis Singer, who can persuade the reader to believe the incredible" -- D. J. Enright, The New York Review of Books

"An arresting, original puzzle of a novel...The orphan desperate to know his father, a familiar theme of fairy tales and myths, is made magical once again." -- People

"A spellbinding novel...The Messiah of Stockholm reaffirms Cynthia Ozick's position as one of the finest and most imaginative writers of our time." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Intrigues and entertains...weaves a tale that is richly, intensely imagined." -- Anne Tyler, The New Republic

"A striking book...Ozick writes with ferocious imaginative drive."

-- Boston Globe

"A magician...a literary alchemist...a brilliant wordsmith."

-- USA Today

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A stellar example of literary craft July 5 2004
This is the story of Lars Andemening, a Stockholm reviewer of obscure literary works who believes he is the orphaned son of Bruno Schulz, a renowned Jewish writer murdered in Nazi-occupied Poland. Lars believes that his father's missing manuscript, The Messiah, is awaiting his discovery; he has built his solitary and eccentric life around all-things-Schulz with the help of an equally eccentric ally/opponent bookseller, Mrs. Eklund. When a young woman surfaces claiming to be the daughter of Schulz and the holder of The Messiah, Lars carefully constructed reality falls apart.
This is the first work of Cynthia Ozick's that I have ever read, so place my zeal within the context of the newly converted if you like. For true literary lovers -- for whom the point of reading is not to be swept by plot to some dubiously satisfying conclusion, but to be strummed, teased, taunted and caressed by words -- Cynthia Ozick is a blessing. She is a true wordsmith: as confident in her ability to raise even the lives of mice within office walls to a place of poetic beauty as she is to document the affect of violent social change on individuals and communities. Her characterization of Lars as captive in a history that may or may not be truly his painfully encapsulates the orphan-refugee experience. And her depiction of the literary world -- with its authors, publishers, reviewers, and sellers -- is both so charming and biting that you can't help but reexamine your role as a reader within it.
I recommend this work for readers who enjoy being swept along in beautiful prose and who seek out literature that begs to be read again and again and again.
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I have read many Cynthia Ozick books, and have found this one to be one of the most memorable, equally for its compelling subject and for its somewhat confounding narrative. It is a slender book, more of a novella than a novel. As other reviewers have pointed out, it's based loosely on the life and works of Bruno Schultz, who has often been compared to Kafka. To have the most rewarding experience with The Messiah of Stockholm, I would strongly recommend starting with Schultz's The Street of Crocodiles, and any other material about Schultz you can get your hands on. Familiarizing yourself with Schultz's fiction as well as at least the rough outline of his life story will be important in understanding Ozick's references in The Messiah. I would also recommend starting with the Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories - another Cynthia Ozick book that might be a more digestible and enjoyable introduction to her intellectually powerful writing and philosophies than this one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Promising but in the end unfulfilling July 15 2004
While I can appreciate, from a distance, the aspects of this book others could use to cite it as a great piece of writing, I found myself frustrated by the narrative balance that Ozick used to tell its story. I didn't feel like there was any spot where i could truly jump into the text and hold on. The characters outside of the main character were all very apathetic and one-dimensional, and i felt like the actions Lars (the main character) took towards them, and which were supposedly the driving points of the novel, were not satisfying emotionally due to the simple fact that I had no place from which to appreciate them. For a 140 page book, i think it was a task Ozick shouldn't have sought out to take by striving to cram so many esoteric and subjective aspects of text at the expense of character or plot development. A dissapointing and unsatisfying read.
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I am a slow & easily bored reader yet I finished the book in 2.5 days. I couldn't put it down! Cynthia Ozick crafts a great story with the remains of enigmatic Polish Jewish writer/artist Bruno Schulz. She fulfilled my wishes, by adding modern substance to the life of this fragile, ephemeral visionary. Ms. Ozick creates a fictional path, using landmarks from Schulz's life. I was interested to see how the WW2's aftermath redounds upon Sweden (I naïvely say,"of all places.")
Our view of Bruno Schulz & so many other creative artists--our very patrimony--remains blocked by the ramifications of the Nazi Holocaust. This novel provides a glimpse of that as well as intrigue, Stockholm newspaper office politics, orphancy,deception & Ozick's eidetic extrapolation of Schulz's lost Messiah. I recommend it!
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