The End of the Jews

  • Review
By – November 14, 2011

Built around the quote, When a writer is born into a fam­i­ly, the fam­i­ly is fin­ished,” this epic describes the rise of Tris­tan Brod­sky, a bril­liant nov­el­ist. The sto­ry con­tin­ues through the emer­gence of his grand­son, also a nov­el­ist; also called Tris­tan (a.k.a. Tris). Under the alias RISK, Tris is a graf­fi­ti artist and teen disc jock­ey. A third major char­ac­ter, Nina, a young pho­tog­ra­ph­er who man­ages to escape com­mu­nist Prague by attach­ing her­self to a vis­it­ing Amer­i­can jazz band, even­tu­al­ly becomes involved with the Brod­sky clan.

With no wast­ed words, The End of the Jews delves into race rela­tions, social issues, respon­si­bil­i­ty to fam­i­ly and loved ones; con­flict­ing loy­al­ties, and betray­al. As a bonus, the read­er is treat­ed to a musi­cal romp through most of the 20th cen­tu­ry, focus­ing on jazz and its bas­tard stepchild, hip hop. The writ­ing is pow­er­ful, descrip­tive, and con­tem­po­rary. The dia­logue is pitch per­fect. Strong, well drawn, com­pas­sion­ate char­ac­ters pro­pel the nar­ra­tive. Adam Mans­bach probes cul­tur­al per­cep­tions of what it means to be Jew­ish, or African- Amer­i­can; how the two iden­ti­ties can inter­sect. This multi­gen­er­a­tional saga is rich, infor­ma­tive, and very enter­tain­ing from the first page until the last.

Sydelle Shamah has been lead­ing book club dis­cus­sions for many years, and is a pub­lished sci­ence fic­tion writer. She was pres­i­dent of the Ruth Hyman Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Mon­mouth Coun­ty, NJ.

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