Marvelous and mystical stories of the thirty-six anonymous saints whose decency sustains the world-reimagined from Jewish folklore.
A liar, a cheat, a degenerate, and a whore. These are the last people one might expect to be virtuous. But a legendary Kabbalist has discovered the truth: they are just some of the thirty-six hidden ones, the righteous individuals who ultimately make the world a better place. In these captivating stories, we meet twelve of the secret benefactors, including a timekeeper's son who shows a sleepless village the beauty of dreams; a gambler who teaches a king ruled by the tyranny of the past to roll the dice; a thief who realizes that his job is to keep his fellow townsfolk honest; and a golem-a woman made of mud-who teaches kings and peasants the real nature of humanity.
With boundless imagination and a delightful sense of humor, acclaimed writer and artist Jonathon Keats has turned the traditional folktale on its head, creating heroes from the unlikeliest of characters, and enchanting readers with these stunningly original fables.
Keats (The Pathology of Lies) re-imagines Jewish folklore in his collection of stories about the Talmudic idea of the Lamedh-Vov, 36 righteous souls who must exist at all times in order for humanity, and the world, to sustain itself. A fictional author's foreword by Jay Katz, Ph.D., summarizes the idea of the Lamedh-Vov and establishes its legitimacy by citing a list of names Katz found while excavating a German synagogue. The stories that follow--covering 12 of the 36 souls--are based on Katz's discussions with villagers. The heroes of these stories include a liar, a thief, an idiot and a whore--not your typical folk heroes. Gimmel the Gambler, for example, loses his fortune to a beautiful peasant woman with one roll of the dice; with her new riches, she's able to marry the king. The accomplishment of this book is more about stylistic mimicry than originality; Keats's ear for the language of folktales comes through nicely, though because of the stories' limited scope, they lack bite. (Feb.)
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Random House Trade Paperbacks
February 09, 2009
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