Almost before he knows it, Herman Broder, refugee and survivor of World War II, has three wives: Yadwiga, the Polish peasant who hid him from the Nazis; Masha , his beautiful and neurotic true love; and Tamara, his first wife, miraculously returned from the dead. Astonished by each new complication, and yet resigned to a life of evasion, Herman navigates a crowded, Yiddish New York with a sense of perpetually impending doom.
About the Author
Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-91) was the author of many novels, stories, children's book, and memoirs. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978.
Date of Birth:July 14, 1904
Date of Death:July 24, 1991
Place of Birth:Radzymin, Poland
Place of Death:Surfside, Florida
Education:Attended Tachkemoni Rabbinical Seminary in Warsaw, Poland, 1920-27
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Not at all what I expected, it is the story of a man who moves to New York after the Holocaust, thinking that his old wife is dead and ends up with three wives. And then the story is about how he juggles them all. It is almost other-worldly although it isn't actually. It totally drew me in though, made me think it was like a literary description of PTSD before they had a term for it.
The story was that of a man who'd survived the holocaust in Poland. Believing that his wife had been killed, he eventually emigrated to New York and married a Polish woman, who'd been his mother's servant and was eventually responsible for hiding him during the Nazi occupation.The story begins several years after he'd moved to New York and in those ensuing years, he's taken a mistress. His life is complicated, as he's in love with his mistress but feels beholden to his wife. To add further confusion for him, his first wife turns up alive and living in Brooklyn. Only when he is reunited with her does he realize that the idealized version of her he remembered was very much fiction. In fact, he openly despised her and left her and his two children well before the holocaust would have separated them.The writing is tight, and funny. There are a ton of secondary characters that add humor and complications to the tale. I felt both pity and disgust with the main character, and these feelings only increased as he refused to make a choice between the women, even as they gradually learned more about his situation.In summation : I found this book to be complex, at both times funny and incredibly moving. I would recommend it to anyone who likes challenging writing coupled with a complex storyline.
I tend to think of Singer as old -- Old World, old school, old religion. Clearly, I've been reading the wrong Singer. "Enemies" is an amazing story of post-Holocaust life, love, and psychopathology in New York. It's sparingly written -- detailed, but only as necessary -- and conveys the oddities of a multi-lingual environment very effectively. More importantly, it is in its way a thoroughly modern story of a man and his wives, and the challenges of belief after the near-total destruction of European Jewry. One of the best and most moving books I have read in a long time, with an unpredictable ending. Highly recommend it.