WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS: An International Anthology of Jewish Fabulist Fiction

Daniel M. Jaffe, Editor WITH SIGNS AND WONDERS: An International Anthology of Jewis $26 (360p) ISBN 978-0-9679683-5-3

Readers combing through this anthology can expect a rich assortment of 24 fanciful short stories, with just a few duds. All of the stories are "fabulist"—that is, they cull from magical realism in the style of Gabriel García Márquez. In Joe Hill's delightfully creative "Pop Art," readers learn the sad story of a boy whose best friend is, due to a birth defect, inflatable; he can't talk, and his very life is threatened by sharp branches, fork tines and other objects that might puncture him. In a tale that suggests what would have happened had Sholem Aleichem ever traveled to the American South, Steve Stern tells the saga of a flying rebbe from Tennessee. Fans who couldn't get enough of Like Water for Chocolate will relish Argentinean author Daniel Ulanovsky Sack's tale "Home Cooking." However, the collection, like most, is uneven. "Tsuris" (trouble), the tale of a quarrelsome student who demands his rabbi explain the dinosaurs, is flat and ill-suited to this anthology: the fabulist transformation here is simply that the student grows attentive. But on the whole, the quirky characters are captivating. Who can forget the curious Siamese twins who complete a minyan in American Joan Leegant's story "The Tenth"? Or Portuguese writer Moacyr Scliar's protagonist Benjamin Bok, whose various body parts are taken over by prophets? This creative collection is distinguished by its imaginative stories and international flavor. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/09/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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