The Court Jesters

Avigdor Dagan, Author, Barbara Harshav, Translator, Viktor Fischl, Author
Avigdor Dagan, Author, Barbara Harshav, Translator, Viktor Fischl, Author Jewish Publication Society of America $15.95 (184p) ISBN 978-0-8276-0324-0
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
In this short, deeply moving novel by a former Israeli ambassador (his first book to appear in English), four prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp are kept alive as ``court jesters'' to entertain the camp commandant. They are juggler Adam Wahn, studious astrologer Max Himmelfarb, Kahana, a hunchbacked ex-judge, and a quick-witted, talkative dwarf named Leo Risenberg. A Nazi soldier shoots Wahn's naked wife to death as he stands before her juggling, looking on helplessly. Over 20 years later, Kahana and Himmelfarb meet in Jerusalem; the dwarf is dead, but the two survivors track down Wahn, now crippled from a terrorist bomb, who relates the gripping story of how he avenged his wife's death in a remote corner of Buenos Aires. A story that might have been allegorical or contrived in the hands of a less gifted novelist is here an utterly realistic tale, pellucid and poetic, which asks an overriding question: Is there a just God? Despite the narrator's closing epiphany, no final answers are given. This is a poignant, extraordinary book. Film rights to Milos Forman. (Oct.)
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