SINGER, Isaac B - The Magician of Lublin
Penguin 1996 (first published 1960)
Read February 2007
This must be about the seventh of Singer’s novels that I have read, and yet again Singer establishes himself as the master storyteller. Having said that though, I begin to get the feel that I am reading the same book over and over again, as the stories are set in the same place, among the same Polish Jewish community and the same moral/religious themes are presented.
The story is about a circus performer who is unfaithful to his wife. On his travels he has a circus assistant whom he sleeps with, a prostitute whom he visits regularly and a Catholic Polish noblewoman in reduced circumstances with whom he plans to elope. His emotional and professional balancing act brings him luck for a while, but then everything starts to go wrong. He believes God is speaking to him; he rediscovers his faith, returns to Lublin and seals himself into a bricked up house as a pennant.
This is an excellently written story which brings to life the characters and a lost historical period.