• The Ministry of Special Cases

  • A Novel
  • By: Nathan Englander
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • 3.4 out of 5 stars (74 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From its unforgettable opening scene in the darkness of a forgotten cemetery in Buenos Aires, The Ministry of Special Cases casts a powerful spell. In the heart of Argentina's Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won't accept him, strives for a wife who forever saves him, and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence - and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear.

Nathan Englander's first novel is a timeless story of fathers and sons. In a world turned upside down, where the past and the future, and the nature of truth itself, all take shape according to a corrupt government's whims, one man, one spectacularly hopeless man, fights to overcome his history and his name - and, if for only once in his life, to put things right.

The Ministry of Special Cases, like Englander's stories before it, is a celebration of our humanity, in all its weakness and, despite that, hope.

©2007 Nathan Englander (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This is a staggeringly mature work, gracefully and knowledgeably set in a milieu far from the author's native New York....Four p's best describe this work: poignant, powerful, political, and yet personal." (Booklist)
"The fate of Argentina's Jews during the 1976-83 'Dirty War' is depicted with blistering emotional intensity in this startling first novel....Englander's story collection promised a brilliant future, and that promise is here fulfilled beyond all expectations." (Kirkus Reviews)
"An amazing amalgam of wit and heart-stopping suspense, with a cast of characters I fell in love with." (Nora Ephron)

What listeners say about The Ministry of Special Cases

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

the greatest book I've read this year

this book was amazing. it's the first book I've read that has made me want to cry. Nathan Englander is truly the greatest writer of the 21st century

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good story, well written

If you could sum up The Ministry of Special Cases in three words, what would they be?

Powerful, Painful, and Real. Real, despite that this story is fiction, almost alternative history.

Who was your favorite character and why?

There were no "likable" characters. My favorite character was the protagonist, Kaddish Poznan. He is an underdog, since before his birth to the end of the story. He never wins or even ties. Kaddish is well depicted as a strong man who always picks himself up and keeps going, even when going is the wrong thing to do. He is hard to like, but easy to hope for.

Have you listened to any of Arthur Morey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

this is my first.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The story is too long for 1 sitting and too complex and difficult. I needed time between each 1 to 3 hours of listening to process what I had heard and fit it into what I had felt about the previous narrative.

Any additional comments?

A working knowledge of the era of Argentina's "disappeared" and of orthodox Judaism is helpful when listening to this story.

1 person found this helpful

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So depressing!

If you want to end up being totally depressed, read this book! I imagine that it’s a pretty accurate depiction of the horrible events in Argentina but it left me feeling hopeless and sad. Wish I had not read it!

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    1 out of 5 stars

Difficult to penetrate

I found this book difficult to understand in audio format. Perhaps, if I had the printed version in front of me and could move slower, it would have been easier. But the combination of unfamiliar names and culture made it difficult to follow over headphones.

2 people found this helpful