I don’t know what it is about Winnipeg, but they sure do love The Frumkiss Family Business.
Not that I’m complaining, you understand – we’re thrilled!
Uptown, Winnipeg’s online resource for the arts, entertainment and news, has produced a carefully considered, well-written and (all-importantly) overwhelmingly positive review of the book. It was written by Quentin Mills-Fenn and published today:
The Frumkiss Family Business (Knopf Canada), by Michael Wex, is a satire about a modern-day family that has everything — money, security — but whose members find themselves facing a crisis largely of their own making.
It’s very funny — there’s a great scene depicting a riot of a funeral — but it also raises important questions about religious and cultural identity. The narrative stretches back to some of the darkest days of European history and also depicts the disappearance of a thriving Yiddish culture. Those scenes contrast with the narcissism of modern-day Toronto and Israel.
Eloykim Faktor was that rare individual, a noted Yiddish writer who was also a beloved star of Canadian children’s television. After his death following an all-kugel diet, his family uncovers a bombshell that disrupts its whole sense of itself.
Along the way are secrets and squabbles, intolerant orthodoxies, nostalgia for a vanished world, ungrateful children, unscrupulous media and living off the earnings of podiatry.
Whereas some books tackle big issues with excruciating seriousness, pulverizing the reader with dullness, Wex uses comedy. He’s not standing on a soapbox — this is all for your entertainment — but he nonetheless convinces you with keen observation, absurdity and wit. A great book — even if you’re not au courant with megillas.