I don’t normally do book reviews, I leave that for my friend Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine. (Hope you don’t mind the link Kiersten, I didn’t ask first). If you like to read, check out her blog, lots of reviews!
Here is what Amazon says about the book;
“The Shady Elders of Zion” is a Minnesota ghost story. Ivan Kalinsky, the book’s narrator, is the last surviving Bolshevik from the class of 1917. When Stalin started purging Jews from the Communist Party ranks in the 1930’s, Kalinsky escaped to Northern Minnesota, where he lived out a long life as a union organizer. Now dead, he’s just about to happily ascend to heaven and reunite with his Bolshevik clan, when two pesky Hassidic ghosts, Singer and Himmelman, blackmail him into helping heal and redirect Joshua Bronstein. Bronstein is a damaged soul, and a candidate for the Lamed Vav, one of the thirty-six hidden righteous men from whom the messiah will be chosen when God decides it’s time. And it becomes Kalinsky’s charge to lead stubborn Bronstein out of his wilderness.
This book was anything but politically correct. Which is why I found it quite funny. Not only does it poke fun at the contentious relationship between Catholics and Jews, it manages to throw in a very bad Native American stereotype as well (it calls her an “Indian”, a term I personally don’t care for).
I don’t read a lot of novels, I tend to keep to theology and philosophy, with a concentration of ancient Biblical texts. So I was familiar with most of the Jewish concepts that came up. However, I had never heard of the “Lamed Vav”. Wondering if it’s a real Jewish tradition or just something made up for the book, I looked it up (ain’t Wikipedia a wonderful thing?). Turns out it real! Here’s the link to Wiki article.
I give the book four out of five stars, only taking one away for the over the top racism. The characters are funny, although very stereotypical as I’ve said before. All in all, a very enjoyable read.