As a novel both grand in its vision and loving in its familiarity, Prayers for the Living presents a series of conversations between grandmother, Minnie Bloch and her companions unfolding a layered portrait of three generations of the Bloch family, whose members are collapsing under everyday burdens and betrayals. Her son, Manny is a renowned, almost legendary rabbi. Respected by his congregants, and surrounded by family, no one suspects that he yearns for a life of greater personal glory, but when an oracular bird delivers what Manny believes to be a message from his deceased father, he abandons his congregation in pursuit of a life in business and his entire life spirals out of control.
Prayers for the Living
Alan Cheuse, an American writer, editor, professor of literature, and radio commentator, had been reviewing books on All Things Considered since the 1980s. He was the author of five novels, five collections of short stories and novellas, and a memoir Fall Out of Heaven. He taught writing at George Mason University, spent his summers in Santa Cruz, California, and led fiction workshops at Squaw Valley Community of Writers. He died unexpectedly in a car crash shortly after this book was published.
“A challenging and intelligent novel, replete with beauty and heartbreak, and perhaps even containing a measure of redemption.” -- Foreword Reviews “Deserves to live among the great novels of Jewish American experience. It is a book that bears the weight of something old yet feels new and utterly alive at the same time.” - Tova Mirvis, author of The Ladies Auxiliary, The Outside World , and Visible City, from the Foreword. “Cheuse enlarges the immigrant tale of aspiration and loss. His narrator, in a lyrically heightened dialect as bold and capacious as the voices of William Faulkner, propels the story toward its conclusion with a dire largeness of scope that deserves the word “tragic. “ - Robert Pinsky, author of Gulf Music “At once tender and brutal, unsparing and wise, Prayers for the Living, masterfully ventriloquizes not only the voices of Manny and the people he cherishes and destroys, but those of an entire America staring at itself in a cracked mirror.” – Boris Fishman, Author of A Replacement Life