Two for the Devil (Small Worlds)

As they arrive in the death camp of Treblinka, Yechiel remembers not only his name but also the Krimsker Rebbe's prophetic curse that exiled him from Krimsk forty years earlier. Yet as death approaches, that curse will prove a blessing.

Stalin and Hitler decree certain death, but Grisha and Yechiel discover Jewish fates. The devil incites loneliness, degradation, despair, and even complicity; through memory, the victims elicit community, dignity, and the awareness of sanctity. Hoffmans] sympathetic presentation of these characters reveals much about the tension between human desire and belief, about the complexities of conscience and commitment.


Robust humor, insight into human nature and an absence of sentimentality augment Hoffmans storytelling skills. Two for the Devil. Release Date June 23, Format Hardcover pages 5.

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Category Biography and Literature History and Archeology. In this way, it is a universal novel- what group of people, what person, isn't constantly poised between already nostalgia for the what-is-now-and-is-yet-vanishing on the one side, and new, terrifying, unchartered change on the other side? It is in the specifity of the details that this novel's beauty shines through, as if the God of this novel is, rather than the Hebrew God, distint and omniscient author of the universe, instead a more local kind of god, a demigod, a small humble dwarf of a God who lovingly looks after a small, humble, problematic group of people, performing minor miracles of transformation the rebbe may, or he may not have been, at one time, a frog watching the advent of Napolean's armies in the distant past , of redemption, of protection.


Jun 11, Sarah rated it really liked it. Stalin and Hitler decree certain death, but Grisha and Yechiel discover Jewish fates. Facing an extraordinary prisoner, Grisha realizes that the Soviet system he has faithfully served is murderously corrupt and that he himself will be the next victim -- but not an innocent one. Which of the following best describes you? Please provide an email address. Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Charlie Hersh marked it as to-read Jun 13,

Mainly, futilely, of protection. Because, while this novel deals lovingly and gently, almost mesmerizingly gently, with the egos and relationships of the characters, main and minor, the entire novel takes place within the context of the historic facts of pograms not to mention impending future genocide designed specifically to wipe these very people off the planet.

Two for the Devil

It's hard to know- does the historical fact of the Holocaust, or even of the Russian and Polish pograms, overshadow the immediate lives of these characters and the concerns and doubts and desires that these lives are invariably made up of? When privy to their prayers- for a wife, for a secure life for their children, for triumph over temptation, for a sign- are we to acknowledge the terrible futility of these prayers, knowing, as we do, the historical realities of the early s?

There is one scene in this novel which, rendered in absolutely hysterical language of dry delivery, illuminates this struggle of perspective- early on, one of the minor characters, a Jewish peddlar, is driving his horse home for a local celebration of mourning.

As he rides in his wagon, driving the horse, he watches the view in front of him- namely, his horse's buttocks- and begins to see, in the flash of setting sun against his horse's behind, a note, a message, written by the sunlight, then hidden away in the shadows.

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He interprets this phenomena as his message arguing with itself- a constant back and forth between the interplay of light and dark, the universe arguing about itself as to what, the Peddlar reasons, he should be doing with himself. The strange improbability for the reader that a divine message would be "snatched from the sunlight" by the "hunches of that horse, Thunder Piffle", that this message would be taken seriously by the otherwise placcid and sensible seeming peddlar is wonderful and joyful in its quirky reflection on what it means to be human, and what it means to exist in a world full of stange and inexiplicable data.

However, as we travel with this peddlar, we learn that for him, this divine argument is one of whether or not he, the peddlar, should relocate to America.

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As we ride along with him, we feel his struggle- does he stay in his community, in which he knows everyone and has a place, but which has begun to feel stifling, or does he go to America, possibly to persue a Destiny, with a capitol D, we cannot help but be aware that this question is rigged- that if he choses to stay in the shetl, he will, almost beyond certainly, die a terrible, terrible death, and know that everyone he loves has been destroyed. As this initial question stay or go?

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Two for the Devil (Small Worlds) [Allen Hoffman] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. It is Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year and Day of. Buy Two for the Devil (Small Worlds) by Allen Hoffman from Amazon's Fiction Books Store. Everyday low prices on a huge range of new releases and classic.

It's a terrible, wonderful kind of discipline of the novel, painful but perhaps in it's own way more honest and redemptive, or at the very least, more honoring of the characters and the humans whose lives were the basis of these characters lives? A wonderful novel which will stay with you and trouble you by all that is left utterly unsaid. Jeff Sharlet rated it it was amazing Aug 22, Molly rated it it was ok May 09, Rosalind Reisner rated it liked it Nov 30, Dolly rated it really liked it Jun 10, Robert rated it really liked it May 11, Jun 01, Hermien rated it liked it Shelves: Judy rated it it was amazing Mar 11, Han rated it it was amazing Sep 20, Yossi is currently reading it Sep 05, Karene marked it as to-read Aug 25, Lynn marked it as to-read Jan 04, Charlie Hersh marked it as to-read Jun 13, Haruka Yamanaka marked it as to-read Sep 01, Temple Sinai Denver added it Jan 06, Elisha Katz added it Apr 07, Kay marked it as to-read Dec 28, Ayala marked it as to-read Dec 29,