Chuzpe: Roman

by Lily Brett (Autor)

Book, 2012




Suhrkamp Verlag (2012), Edition: 1, 332 pages


It hasn't been easy for Ruth Rothwax, the proprietor of a successful letter-writing business, to branch out into a new greeting-card line. Her father, Edek, is driving her crazy at the office. Other women, who she thought would be supportive, are being catty and competitive, behavior Ruth swears that she will never imitate. But then Zofia arrives to turn Ruth's aspirations of sisterly solidarity--and her life--upside down. Fresh off the plane from Poland--a buxom, sixty-something femme fatale with a talent for making meatballs--Zofia wants to open a restaurant. And Edek, Zofia's most passionate admirer, wants his daughter to finance the enterprise. But Ruth knows that gleam in Zofia's eye only too well . . . and she knows it means big trouble for all of them.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member judye
Light tale of a daughter supporting her father to a productive old age and accepting relationships she doesn't approve of.
LibraryThing member mairangiwoman
Not this cover but I like it!
An amusing, light and slightly implausible story of 2 immigrant women and a 90 odd yr old man succeeding at setting up an unusual restaurant in New York and making their lives interesting. Great New York flavour
LibraryThing member siri51
While I knew this should be funny, I didn't start laughing until more than half way through. Ruthie is a neurotic women not particularly likeable as a main character. This would make a good movie - with more laughs than the book.
LibraryThing member lberriman
A fun easy read.
LibraryThing member Fliss88
Lily Brett writes a great story! You gotta have balls is a hoot of a book. Edek is larger than life although not young, he’s 87, recently widowed and just arrived in New York from Australia. He survived Auschwitz, how hard can it be to move to the other side of the world. He’s come to be close
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to his daughter Ruthie ‘I can help you in the business. I can still carry parcels and I can order stuff what you need. I can make things easier for you.’ It’s only been five months and already he’s driving Ruth nuts! Something else needs to be found to fill his days and leave her to work, on her own. Maybe Ruth should be careful what she wishes. Enter Zofia! Zofia is a 60 something firecracker who knows what she wants. Now Edek is always too busy ‘…..doing stuff’ when Ruth rings. I hadn’t pre-read any reviews so when the reason for what I thought an odd title was revealed, I had a good laugh. I fell in love with Edek, Zofia and Ruthie in this endearing tale of family life, big crazy happy life!
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LibraryThing member hardlyhardy
A comic novel in the shadow of Auschwitz? Somehow Lily Brett pulled it off in “Too Many Men.” She does it again in the even funnier sequel “Uncomfortably Close” (2006).

In the earlier novel New Yorker Ruth Rothwax, the daughter of two Auschwitz survivors, persuades her father, Edek, to visit
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Poland with her and return to the place where he lost so many friends and relatives. While in Poland the old man becomes enamored with Zofia, a busty and aggressive Polish woman, whom Ruth instantly dislikes.

Now in the second book Edek has moved to New York City from Australia and "helps" his daughter with her successful letter-writing and greeting card business. Mostly he just gets in the way, and Ruth tries to persuade him to get involved in some activity outside her office. Then suddenly he does, and Ruth becomes more frustrated by his absence than she was when he was purchasing office supplies she didn't need.

The explanation, she learns, is that Zofia and her quiet friend Walentyna have migrated from Poland and moved in with her father. Ruth had thought she was rid of Zofia when they left Poland, but now she is back in their lives, apparently to stay.

Zofia, in her late 60s and about 20 years younger than Edek, turns out to be a terrific cook and a bundle of energy. Zofia, Edek and Walentyna come up with a plan to open a meatball restaurant in an unpromising part of New York City. Edek promises to support the project financially, but since Ruth supports Edek, that means her money will be needed to open the restaurant. She's convinced it can never succeed, but unable to say no to her father, she loans them the money anyway.

While all this is going on, Ruth is trying to start a group for middle-aged and older women to meet and talk about topics, like sex, they might not otherwise talk about, although from the conversations reported in the novel, women of all ages talk about these topics all the time with or without a support group. But if Ruth is so committed to supporting women, why does she have such negative feelings toward Zofia, whom her father obviously adores? Everyone else, including her husband, her children, her friends and her work associates, love Zofia and think the restaurant is a great idea. So why does Ruth feel she must protect her father from her?

Reading the first of these autobiographical novels helps us understand the second. Ruth still blames the Polish people, all of them, for what happened to her family members at Auschwitz. She must somehow soften the deep-seated biases that conflict with her love for her more forgiving father and her wish for his happiness.
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Original publication date



3518418270 / 9783518418277
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