Zu viele Männer: Roman

by Lily Brett

Hardcover, 2001




Deuticke (2001), Edition: 2, 655 pages


Ruth Rothwax, a successful woman with her own business, Rothwax Correspondence, can find order and meaning in writing words for other people--condolence letters, thank-you letters, even you-were-great-in-bed letters. But as the daughter of Edek Rothwax, an Auschwitz survivor with a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to the English language, Ruth can find no words to understand the loss of her family experienced during World War II. Ruth is obsessed with the idea of returning to Poland with her father, but she doesn't quite understand why she feels this so intensely. To make sense of her family's past, yes. To visit the places where her beloved mother and father lived and almost died, certainly. But she knows there's more to this trip. By facing Poland, and the past, she can finally confront her own future.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member caymil
Overall this was an interesting book with an unusual conceptual twist, but the main character is so judgemental, self centered, and neurotic that I found myself just getting irritated. At times I had to close the book just to get away from her. Some of the coincidences were beyond belief and I
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found myself rolling my eyes more than once, but there were some very interesting parts as well. Not a bad read, but it was not good enough to make me rush out and check out other books by this author.
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LibraryThing member hardlyhardy
"Too Many Men," first published in Australia in 1999, is the first in a series of autobiographical novels written by Lily Brett. Brett is the daughter of two Auschwitz survivors. She grew up in Australia and now lives in New York City. All this is also true of Ruth Rothwax, the main character in
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"Too Many Men."

In the novel, Ruth yearns to visit Poland with her father, Edek, who is much less eager to return to the country of his youth, where he lost virtually every member of his family during the Holocaust and where his happy boyhood ended with so much suffering. His wife, Ruth's mother, died several years before, and Ruth is all he has left. So the old man, who lives in Australia, agrees to meet his beloved daughter in Poland.

Few Jews remain in Poland, they find, but the strong anti-Semitism remains. The Poles have turned Jews into a tourist attraction. There are Jewish restaurants, Jewish cabarets and Jewish gifts shops, none of them owned or operated by Jews. The Auschwitz death camp is now called a museum, and Ruth goes into a rage every time she hears the words "Auschwitz Museum."

This may not sound like a comic novel, but it is actually quite hilarious. Edek is a delightful character. His speech habits, his large appetite for Polish food, his practice of running wherever he goes, leaving Ruth far behind, and his romance with a large-breasted Polish woman will keep readers amused.

The humor does not detract from the pathos as Ruth and Edek visit the building where he grew up (and find his parents' fine china and other goods still being used by the present owners), tour the area that was once the Jewish ghetto where Jews were forced to live under terrible conditions and then go to Auschwitz, where Edek can point to the very spot where he used to sleep.

The novel ends with some mysteries still unresolved, which makes Brett's subsequent novels required reading. One mystery is this book's enigmatic title. A gypsy fortune teller once told Ruth that she has "too many men" in her life. True, she has had three husbands and several lovers, but right now Edek is the only man in her life. She doesn't believe in fortune tellers, yet she can't get the words out of her mind. What can they possibly mean? The reader, like Ruth, will be left wondering about that.
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Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Winner — 2000)
Miles Franklin Literary Award (Shortlist — 2000)



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