A Dissenter in the House of God

Alvin A. Rosenfeld, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-312-04303-2
This first novel by a child psychiatrist is the intense and emotional story of Hyman Schwartz, a survivor of the Holocaust who, in 1955, has found a haven as an accountant in a prosperous New York City firm. Hyman's compassionate employer, Sam Teitlebaum, is aware that his taciturn employee is unusually talented, but does not realize that Hyman compulsively uses numbers as a way of blotting out memories of his family, all exterminated in the camps. When Shimshon, a handsome, gregarious young refugee from Communist Hungary, asks Hyman for lessons in accounting, the reclusive and embittered older man reacts with ill-concealed hostility, but at the request of his employer he begins to teach Shimshon, an apt pupil, and a dialogue gradually begins between the two men. Hyman's defenses are lowered and, as he begins to think of Shimshon as a son, he slowly reawakens to life. But Shimshon, once he has mastered the field, plans to leave and start his own firm in Israel. Though his plot has provocative possibilities, Rosenfeld's execution is heavy-handed and lethargic, a victim of his didacticism and his inclination to expound on psychological developments that, more ably rendered, could have been left to the reader's deduction. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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