Wednesday, June 26, 2013

One Hundred Philistine Foreskins

As in her previous novel, My Holocaust, One Hundred Philistine Foreskins is yet another Tova Reich venture into high satire.  This is her genre, and she fearless in her use of its tools.  Nothing escapes her caustic scrutiny.  Everything is fair game.

My Holocaust exposed the dreadful commercialization of the Shoah, while Foreskins offers a look at a wider topic, the place of women in the orthodox Jewish world.   Reich has a great deal to say on this topic, and brings a large amount of background knowledge and information as she lays out her plot.

Reich is an intractably Jewish writer, and it helps the reader to have a rich knowledge of Judaism to appreciate this book.   She throws everything into this novel but the Jewish kitchen sink. The narrator does explain some of the more abstruse references and allusions, but sometimes this does not go too far.  Large parts of this novel are an inside joke.

In the end, Foreskins hovers in a netherworld between humor and rage, offering a glimmer of hope in a world without hope for women.   
It is as if Reich, despite all her satirical gifts, which are a thin mask covering her rank misanthropy, cannot give up on humanity and its particular manifestation, the Jewish people.

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