The Zigzag Kid

David Grossman, Author, Betsy Rosenberg, Translator
David Grossman, Author, Betsy Rosenberg, Translator Farrar Straus Giroux $24 (384p) ISBN 978-0-374-29692-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-374-52563-7
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In a major departure from the dark tone and themes of his previous work, Israeli novelist Grossman's latest novel (following The Book of Intimate Grammar) is a whimsical adventure story that captures the unsophisticated point of view of a young, curious and spirited boy. The ""kid"" of the title is the narrator, Amnon Feuerberg, whose bar mitzvah is fast approaching. Amnon could not be more different from the doom-obsessed Momik of See Under: Love, particularly because he has escaped the shadow of the Holocaust. He does have the usual assortment of adolescent problems, however, and he has to deal with his distant father, a workaholic police detective, and the mysterious absence of his mother, who disappeared shortly after his birth, not to mention the demands of his own hyperactive and mendacious personality. The plot unfolds in picaresque style: Amnon's father, with the help of Gabi, his devoted girlfriend and secretary, has arranged what they intend to be an educational cross-country train journey for Amnon, but the plan goes wildly awry when Amnon is intercepted by one Felix Glick, a witty, cosmopolitan master thief who is Amnon's father's arch-enemy (and, it turns out, also bears a much closer relation to Amnon than the boy had suspected). A flurry of adventures ensues--involving daring thefts, flashy cars, enchanting actresses--over the course of which Amnon learns the secrets of his past and of his own mysterious nature. At times, Grossman has trouble gracefully balancing the novel's burden of adult wisdom (Amnon is looking back after 30 years) with the simple diction of a 12-year-old boy. But this is a delightful coming-of-age tale in which one of Israel's most important novelists broadens his range. 35,000 first printing; major ad/promo; FSG audio; author tour. (Sept.)
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