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Is It Good for the Jews?

More Stories from the Old Country and the New

“Jewish stories,” writes Adam Biro, “resemble every people’s stories.” Yet at the same time there is no better way to understand the soul, history, millennial suffering, or, crucially, the joys of the Jewish people than through such tales—“There’s nothing,” writes Biro, “more revelatory of the Jewish being.”

With Is It Good for the Jews? Biro offers a sequel to his acclaimed collection of stories Two Jews on a Train. Through twenty-nine tales—some new, some old, but all finely wrought and rich in humor—Biro spins stories of characters coping with the vicissitudes and reverses of daily life, while simultaneously painting a poignant portrait of a world of unassimilated Jewish life that has largely been lost to the years. From rabbis competing to see who is the most humble, to the father who uses suicide threats to pressure his children into visiting, to three men berated by the Almighty himself for playing poker, Biro populates his stories with memorable characters and absurd—yet familiar—situations, all related with a dry wit and spry prose style redolent of the long tradition of Jewish storytelling.

A collection simultaneously of foibles and fables, adversity and affection, Is It Good for the Jews? reminds us that if in the beginning was the word, then we can surely be forgiven for expecting a punch line to follow one of these days.

Read an excerpt.

152 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2009

Biography and Letters


Jewish Studies


"Deftly translated by Catherine Tihanyi, this successor to Two Jews on a Train sparkles with the happy anguish of Jewish humor, with the wit of threateningly cultured protagonists, and with the ’special case’ treatment that life’s tangles invariably receive in this milieu between old and new worlds."

Peter Skinner | ForeWord

Table of Contents


Translator’s Acknowledgments

1. In Lieu of an Epigraph: A Brief Story Containing within Itself All the Following Ones

2. The Officer’s Ring

3. In Praise of Anti-Semites

4. Of Humility

5. Okuláré

6. Of Wisdom

7. Of Children

8. Wailing

9. Of Education

10. Of Numbers

11. Thirsty for More

12. Of Privileges

13. Environment

14. Of Strength (of Conviction)

15. In English in the Text

16. A Witz for All Seasons

17. Of Jews and of Others

18. Di Ganef, Di Willst Davenen!

19. Assimilation

20. You Can’t Escape Your Fate

21. Two Geopolitical Lessons

22. In Someone Else’s Shoes

23. He Who Hunts . . .

24. The World of Business

25. Games of Chance

26. The Emigrant

27. Of Money, Still

28. Of Us and Them, of Them and Us

29. The Negotiation


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