My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Excerpt from the back of the book:
"Asher Lev is a Ladover Hasid who keeps kosher, prays three times a day, and believes in the Ribbono Shel Olom, the Master of the Universe. Asher Lev is an artist who is compulsivey driven to render the world he sees and feels, even when it leads him to blasphemy. In this stirring and often visionary novel, Chaim Potok traces Asher's passage between these two identities, the one consecrated to God, the other subject only to the imagination."
I read this book for Ethnic Literature last semester and am currently writing a research essay on it. Can I just say I love this book! I definitely give it a 5 out of 5. It is beautifully written and the characters are highly developed. I love and am intrigued by the tension in this novel between art and religion. It also treats the theme of suffering both in the world and the suffering Asher paints through his work. It raises very good, deep questions about these issues in an extremely relatable, beautiful world. There's so much to say that I can't say it all!
This read is fairly somber, so take that into account before you pick it up, although it does have some funny moments. It also has a rather dreary ending, but there is a sequel called The Gift of Asher Lev which I have not had the opportunity to read yet, but definitely will. This is an emotional book written with clear, yet complex language. There is so much in it that one has to read it several times to dig into all its goodness. Please read it!! (and tell me what you think!)
What I learned from this book: Ladover Jews are very community-based and traditional; people have different ways of bringing meaning into the world and must stick to these paths or feel unfulfilled and untrue to themselves.