The Arty Semite

Who Will Shelter Shalom Auslander?

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

Anyone who knows Shalom Auslander’s work knows he is haunted by the past — both his own personal past and the collective Jewish one. But for the sake of potential new readers, he is making this fact abundantly clear in the trailers he has made for his soon-to-be-released novel, “Hope: A Tragedy.”

In the trailers, Auslander gets Ira Glass, Sarah Vowell and John Hodgman to play along with him as he riffs on Holocaust guilt and anxiety (“I am a Holocaust survivor. I don’t mean personally. I mean I have survived people who talked about the Holocaust a lot as a kid,” he told New York Magazine in an interview about the trailers.) The clips are funny, but in that iconoclastic, cringe-inducing way that all of Auslander’s work is.

The writer, seen only in silhouette as he paces by his desk in front of his office’s window, asks each of his friends by phone whether they would hide him and his family in their attic if there were another Holocaust. So as not to give away too much, we’ll only say that Glass, Vowell and Hodgman each take an idiosyncratic approach to answering the question. For all three, however, whether they have an actual attic in their home seemed to be a major point of discussion.

The trailers’ audio may be humorous, but their visuals are poignant. As Auslander tries to convince his friends to agree to take him, his wife and two young children in, and we see footage of him and his family playing blissfully in the woods on a rainy day. The writer claims that after waiting for sunny weather for filming last summer, he simply ran out of time and just said, “F*ck it, let’s just do it now.” But it turned out that the choice was right for what his book is about. “The book is about the futility of hope, in a way. And the danger of hope. At a certain point you go, the sun is not coming out anymore. If I could get that way with life in general, I would be much happier,” he said.

Watch Shalom Auslander’s book trailer with Ira Glass:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Shalom Auslander, Renee Ghert-Zand, Books, Book Trailers

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.