What if there was a town that history missed? For decades, the tiny Jewish shtetl of Kreskol existed in happy isolation, virtually untouched and unchanged. Spared by the Holocaust and the Cold War, its residents enjoyed remarkable peace. It missed out on cars, and electricity, and the internet, and indoor plumbing. But when a marriage dispute spins out of control, the whole town comes crashing into the twenty-first century.
...witty and sagacious ... The persistence of anti-Semitism after the Holocaust has been an enduring theme for American writers, from Bernard Malamud and Philip Roth to more contemporary writers like Michael Chabon ... Gross earns a spot in that company because he grasps that the subject remains urgent ... a potent cautionary tale.
First-time novelist Max Gross is funny, insightful and mysterious in sharing what is essentially a coming-of-age story ... The Lost Shtetl is a fascinating combination of adventure, laughs and heartache, perfect for fans of Michael Chabon.
In presenting this entertaining 'what if' of a novel, Gross also asks readers to think critically about modernity and identity, community and transformation, and the meaning of home. He ponders cultural and familial inheritance and the modern condition, even while telling a delightfully improbable story. In the tradition of tall tales, The Lost Shtetl is silly and wondrous yet thoughtful and smart. Gross’ narrative is sprawling and still controlled --- engaging, funny and heartbreaking all at once. Only the authorial or editorial condition to unnecessarily footnote Jewish terms and Polish vocabulary may take readers out of this world ... Gross’ questions and answers here are profoundly Jewish, but they parallel so many universal concerns about what is lost and what is gained as nations and communities are impacted by the gifts and horrors brought with the march of time and as individuals are altered by the joys and aches of love.