Book Review: The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann

August 9, 2017

The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann is a novel, originally published in German, which brings together a Holocaust survivor and an American Jewish kid. The book was originally written in German, I read the English translation.

  • 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501155822

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My rat­ing for The Trick  — 5
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The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann popped up on my screen as a recommendation several times before I took a look at it. I did notice the book though and kept the title in the back of my mind. It seemed like one I’d like, with Eastern European dark, sarcastic humor, great characters and a good story.

So why didn’t I jump on it immediately?
Good questions, when I’ll know the answer I’ll tell you.

From the first pages I knew I’d like this book. The quirks of an old Jewish man, the imagination of a young boy that firmly believes he can change the world, and, last but not least, some great storytelling.

The book, a bit sentimental but certainly charming, manages to tell a dark story with charisma and style. The author brings together a cynic, suicidal old man and a bright, hopeful boy in a story which is full of sweet, funny moments and a few horrific ones, albeit always with a wink and a nod.

The story actually has three protagonists, Max Cohn, a kid in present day Los Angeles, Moshe Goldenhirsch who is a young Jewish man at the heyday of World War II, and again, Moshe as an elderly retiree in present day Los Angeles. The comparison of reading about the naive Moshe and the seasoned Moshe, how his life experiences has made him bitter, angry but not lose his humanity made a very interesting read.

The author managed to make a somewhat predictable book, which was still a joy to read, surprising at the end introducing a whole new perspective in a nick of time (which ties nicely to a previous sub-plot).

Present  day Los Angeles: Max Chon, a nine year old boy, sees his parents going through a tough, traumatizing divorce. Max comes up with a cunning plan of hiring the great magician Zabbatini to perform his “love spell” and bring his parents together.

Prague – sometime in the 1930s: Moshe Goldenhirsch manages to go to the circus and see the half-moon man with his beautiful assistant. The son of a poor Rabbi, Moshe cannot possible tell his father he wants to join the magic circus, so he runs away to learn a new craft. Only that the Nazis, which seem to ruin everything they touch, also manage to ruin Moshe’s dreams and career no matter how much he tries to ignore them.

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free
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