The UnAmericans

Molly Antopol. Norton, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-24113-6
At the core of this debut collection is an exploration of those difficult ties that bind families and communities. Spanning a large swath of the 20th century, these are stories about the older generation of Jews who fled Europe and saw their courage tested: Jewish-American laborers, actors, and intelligentsia who believed in larger—if failed—causes, such as communism, and paid a price for their commitment. The stories are also about the chasm between fathers and their children, as well as between brothers. Antopol’s narrators are men and women of various ages, from America, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union. In “My Grandmother Tells Me This Story,” a grandmother recounts her dangerous mission for the Yiddish Underground at Horodetz, once part of Poland but now in Belarus. “Minor Heroics” tells of a young man saving his older brother’s life on an Israeli moshav (settlement); the “The Unknown Soldier” is about an actor, jailed for a year in 1950 for allegedly anti-American activities, who tries to rekindle his relationship with his 10-year-old son. The collection crescendos with “The Quietest Man,” in which a former dissident from Communist-era Prague obsesses about how he is to be portrayed in a play written by the daughter he neglected. There are no happy endings, nor does Antopol people her stories with heroes. What draws the reader to her deeply flawed characters is their keen self-awareness, and their consequent ability to act with a semblance of moral, sometimes even selfless, integrity. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 02/01/2014
Show other formats
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-393-34996-2
Hardcover - 261 pages - 978-0-00-754881-1
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-00-754883-5
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-393-24197-6
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.