Stranger in a Strange Land: Searching for Gershom Scholem and Jerusalem

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After several years of reading and reviewing nonfiction, I was compelled to read George Prochnik’s journey into Stranger in a Strange Land twice before offering my thoughts. If you have read his work in The New Yorker or Cabinet magazine, the latter of which he is editor-at-large, or any of his other books currently on the market, then you are familiar with Prochnik’s gift of vocabulary. Stranger in a Strange Land is exceptional in prose but also blends theology with history, and psychology with personal experience.

From the outset, you might expect this saga to chronicle the life of Gershom Scholem, an icon of modern Israel who once quipped, “We came as rebels and found ourselves to be heirs.” Further into the pages, Prochnik leads us deeper into the mysteries of “kabbalah” and the dialogue between Scholem and Walter Benjamin, which naturally incorporates a glimpse of the Holocaust from a safe distance. And just when you feel comfortable about the progress and meter, Prochnik turns the mirror upon himself. Suddenly the saga gets very personal, and Stranger in a Strange Land comes to life. “Only he who can change is master of the future,” says Scholem. “There is no hope of gradual relief. There is only hope of salvation,” says Prochnik.

Before you close the cover, you may find yourself staring into your own reflection.

Reviewed By:

Author George Prochnik
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 544 pages
Publisher Other Press
Publish Date 2017-Mar-21
ISBN 9781590517765 Buy this Book
Issue July 2017
Category Biographies & Memoirs


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