Translated by Dorothy Thompson
'Many years ago there lived in Zuchnow, in Russia, a man named Mendel Singer. He was pious, God-fearing and ordinary, an entirely commonplace Jew . . . '
So Roth begins his novel about the loss of faith and the experience of suffering. His modern Job goes through his trials in the ghettos of Tsarist Russia and on the unforgiving streets of New York. Mendel Singer loses his family, falls terribly ill and is badly abused. He needs a miracle . . .
Thomas Mann wrote of this novel: 'It is not possible to do justice to its poetic subtlety, but I can vouch for its extraordinary literary merits.'
Joseph Roth was born in Galicia, then the poorest province of the Hapsburg Empire, in 1894. He worked as a journalist in Vienna and Bonn, and also wrote thirteen novels. After 1933 he lived in Paris, where he was identified with the anti-Nazi opposition. He is now considered one of the twentieth-century's finest writers.