Nathan and His Wives: A Novel

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Syracuse University Press, 2003 - Fiction - 219 pages
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Meir, the narrator of the story, is the personal servant of Nathan, a rich tycoon consumed with bizarre obsessions. The deep connection between Meir and Nathan takes its toll on the relationships each man has with the women in his life: Rina, Nathan's first wife; Rachel, Meir's wife; and Dana, Meir's lover.
Wealth makes Nathan powerful, shameless, able to satisfy his every whim - buying up priceless art and antiques, collecting women, founding a political party, purchasing an entire village in Galilee, or assembling his own team of "experts" from all over the world, among them a chess master. Why? Because he can. Wealth fuels Nathan's control over those around him, particularly the faithful Meir.
While exploring the complicated personalities of his characters, Miron C. Izakson neatly combines surreal and real elements to deal with questions of Jewish culture and beliefs. Nathan's obsession with collecting is driven by his desire to obtain a fourteenth-century manuscript written by the King of France when he was in exile in England. This record sheds light on issues about royalty and regime, exile and national identity. Meir's assistance in this pursuit is at first innocent and touching, but soon turns morbid and ironic.
 

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About the author (2003)

In 2000, Besty Rosenberg received the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation for her work translating Duel from the original Hebrew into English. In their review the award committee said: "Duel is quirky, compassionate and beautifully edited...Grossman deals with values that are not often discussed today. In a lively natural translation, this original book is unforgettable.

Ken Frieden is B. G. Rudolph Professor of Judaic Studies and director of the Judaic Studies Program at Syracuse University.

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