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Let’s Talk About It: Readers discuss Jewish ‘comedy’

Participants in Let’s Talk About It book program discuss Shalom Auslander’s “Hope: A Tragedy.”

Photo by Lorie Palmer
Participants in Let’s Talk About It book program discuss Shalom Auslander’s “Hope: A Tragedy.”

— “Comedy and satire are vastly different things,” stated Wendy Green, scholar for the first 2016 Let’s Talk About It book discussion.

A group of 14 people gathered to discuss Shalom Auslander’s “Hope: A Tragedy,” Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Grangeville Centennial Library.

While some saw the book as “hilarious,” others found it irreverent and crude.

The book’s protagonist, Solomon Kugel, discovers there’s a secret in his newly purchased house’s attic: none other than Holocaust survivor Anne Frank (she did not perish in the Holocaust but has been alive, surviving in attics). The main character deals with his deepest fears and doubts, all the while trying to hold onto his marriage, shield his son from too much truth about the past and keep Anne Frank as well as his own mother happy.

“We see Solomon make one bad decision following another,” Green said.

“It’s interesting when it states to ‘keep a lie a lie – the neighbors won’t like the truth,’” said Shelley Dumas.

“I found it very painful to read,” Andrea Solberg said.

The group discussed what is perhaps taboo humor to gentiles – the Holocaust – has been written about in humorous form by Jewish writers.

“One thing for certain, Auslander cleverly weaves a variety of historical references and people into the story,” Green said.

This year’s Let’s Talk About It theme is humor and satire. The program is open to all and is sponsored by U.S. Bancorp, Idaho Humanities Council, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Idaho Commission for Libraries and the Grangeville Centennial Friends of the Library.

Upcoming programs are as follows:

•Feb. 9 - Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple with scholar Paula Coomer.

•March 1 - The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde with scholar Ron McFarland.

•March 22 - Messages From My Father by Calvin Trillin with scholar Nancy Casey.

•April 22 - Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain with scholar Barbara Meldrum.

The program is open to all and books can be picked up at the library, 215 W. North Street, or call 983-0951.


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