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Publisher's Summary

2022 Pulitzer Prize winner for Fiction and named one of the notable books of 2021 by The New York Times

Corbin College, not quite upstate New York, winter 1959-1960: Ruben Blum, a Jewish historian—but not an historian of the Jews—is co-opted onto a hiring committee to review the application of an exiled Israeli scholar specializing in the Spanish Inquisition. When Benzion Netanyahu shows up for an interview, family unexpectedly in tow, Blum plays the reluctant host to guests who proceed to lay waste to his American complacencies. Mixing fiction with nonfiction, the campus novel with the lecture, The Netanyahus is a wildly inventive, genre-bending comedy of blending, identity, and politics that finds Joshua Cohen at the height of his powers. The New York Times described it as “absorbing, delightful, hilarious, breathtaking and the best and most relevant novel I’ve read in what feels like forever.” 

Read by the author with David Duchovny and Ethan Herschenfeld lending their vocal talents to the audiobook. 

©2021 Joshua Cohen (P)2021 Pushkin Industries

Critic Reviews

"Absorbing, delightful, hilarious, breathtaking and the best and most relevant novel I’ve read in what feels like forever." (Taffy Brodesser-Akner, The New York Times Book Review)

“No one writing in English today is more gifted than Joshua Cohen. Every page of The Netanyahus—an historical account of a man left out of history, a wickedly funny fable of the return of the repressed—crackles with Cohen’s high style and joyride intelligence.” (Nicole Krauss) 

The Netanyahus is constructed with a brilliant comic grace that moves from the sly to the exuberant. Some scenes are funny beyond belief. But even when moments in the book are sharp or melancholy, they keep an undertone of witty and ironic observation. The vision in this book is deeply original, making clear what a superb writer Joshua Cohen is.” (Colm Tóibín)

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What listeners say about The Netanyahus

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Phillip Roth would certainly listen!

This wonderful brilliant novel has been been given another incarnation as a perfectly put together audio book. The book is a great read (Front Page NYTimes Book Review June 2021) (NYTimes and Wall St Journal Best books of 2021.) but it sets a new standard for an audio book. This is Partly because Joshua Cohen is one of the notable narrators and keeps the smart sardonic writing pitch perfect when read aloud. The music and SFX enhance without ever interfering.
You almost want to sit around with your friends listening to this clever and comedic tale of the intersection of an upstate university prof and Benzion Netanyahu like you would going to a Coen Bros movie.

11 people found this helpful

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Brilliant & Funny !

A political history cloaked in a rollicking campus novel, The Netanyahus had me laughing out loud again and again. I also gained a more nuanced understanding of Jewish history. Bonus: David Duchovny does a fun impression of a rabbi and comic Ethan Herscehnfeld nearly steals the show with his star turn as a vindictive former colleague. Listen, laugh and learn!

6 people found this helpful

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The bad news

The bad news about the “performance” is not the narrator himself, it’s the sound effects: toilets flushing, sirens blaring. Totally unnecessary. This is a book, not a radio play. As for the story, I kept waiting for it to become interesting.

4 people found this helpful

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Joshua Cohen is my new favorite writer

I think Joshua Cohen is a genius. I’m not alone in this assessment. The subject matter is familiar ground although sometimes I wonder if I lived it as much I learned it immersing myself in the writing of the pantheon of Jewish writers -Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, Joseph Heller and others, Certainly, everyone’s experience as a Jew is different but we do share the same gestalt, the same inside joke, if you will.

The Netanyahu reminds me so much of some of my favorite books which present “history” in its narrative. Such a book brings me to the limits of my knowledge of “history” and then it enters into a realm where I can’t really be sure whether it’s fact or fiction. And because each of these books are satire, somewhere in my mind, I remember, the book is planting facts in the story which may or may not be twisted but I don’t know because my knowledge of the subject matter is slight. I am in a way the most pliable reader, but always the skeptic, I’m always left wondering if I should be accepting these new “facts.” Whatever the author tells me could be true but I remember I’m reading satire so it could be false. If the book succeeds at a higher level it encourages me to actually go on to learn what is, at least, accepted history.

What the Netanyahu book does that is decidedly different is that it gives away the game, if you are paying any attention at all. A main character is a professor of revisionist history so the story he tells is supposed to be suspect.

(Of course all history is suspect and fraught with the biases inherent in the retelling so satire has fertile ground to explore.). Now I have to do a lot of google research to find out if Netanyahu, (father of Ben) was really a professor of revisionist history and whether the story of the political reason for the Iberian expulsion of the Jews is a real or bogus theory, if it is a theory netanyahu actually expounded or if it may be completely plausible. A book that leaves you so perplexed is challenging and entertaining on a special plain that probably appeals to my appreciation of puzzles.

Nabokov, Roth, Condon, Bellow, and Heller and others (who won’t be named since to do so would betray the depth of my ignorance) have all succeeded so well in this realm that they have left me with a very tenuous but amused grip on “history.”
Some of them probably were not even intending to do so.

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Expected a funny book

I think I expected a funny book reminiscent of the Jewish humor in television and movies that much of America enjoyed in the late 1950s through the 1960s. My wife and I were watching the latest season of "Mrs. Maisel" on Prime Video and I think that heavily influenced my decision to try this book. As it turned out, I found the book tedious and seldom funny and I gave up about a third of the way into it. I wish I could have returned it, but that was not allowed for this one...which also wasn't funny.

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Brilliant and Funny

Mentally stimulating, great writing style, lots of out loud laughs. Will read more Cohen novels!

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Miserable sound effects, voices, music

Disliked sound effects, music, and voices intensely. Also, language was just too flowery. Not impressed.

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Meh…

The audiobook is overproduced…too much music.

The story is less compelling than I expected for a story that’s so built up…

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Hit Job on a good family

Started off clever, in a kind of New Yorkerish style; then descended into an acerbic, nasty screed against Netanyahu family. Kind'a Nation-like, Joy Beharish cannibla's feast.

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Boring, boring, boring

I'm not a quitter but I got 47% in and needed to stop. I found that I was just dreading this book. Don't get me wrong, it was beautifully written and some of the scenes were amusing but I just didn't care about the characters. And the 30 page long diatribes on the Jewish condition were difficult to plod through. This book might be for some people but sadly, not for me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-01-22

Not a fan

Couldn’t really see why/how this book won the Pulitzer. Not very interesting and pretty tedious in places. Narration had cheesy background sounds that turned it more into a drama than an audiobook. Clearly not for me.

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  • Byron
  • 06-26-22

Did not disappoint.

I definitely plan to read more Joshua Cohen. Great production and a great introduction to Audible. Loved it.

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  • M. Bellamy
  • 05-15-22

Touched with genius

This is a mixed work. There were a number of passages that were brilliantly well written.
The story is based on the real life incident of Professor Harold Bloom looking after the strange, driven and some might say deluded academic historian Benzion Netanyahu who was the father of the future Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu.
The little known incident of Bloom looking after Netanyahu and his irascible wife and dysfunctional three sons made for some excellent comic writing.
This was a brilliant attempt to emulate the great comical Jewish writing of Saul Bellow and Philip Roth amongst others.
Cohen is a writer touched with genius. This is not his classic novel but I feel that it will come.
Well worth a listen to.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-01-22

things I never knew

Thoroughly enjoyed this, invested in the characters and fascinated by the scenes illustrated in my mind, laugh out loud funny in places.

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  • Ballina Beach
  • 06-24-22

Brilliant, clever, hilarious

Riffing on a true story, Cohen has written gorgeous blend of fiction and nonfiction in this domestic sitcom plus campus novel. More than that: genre-bending so it’s a clever sly look at identity and history. He’s a terrific writer- some of the scenes are so funny dinner scenes or babysitting night, you’re gasping for breath!!
Hugely satisfying. A great listen.