Monday, February 26, 2018

For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian

(Thank you to Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Available in English for the first time, Mihail Sebastian’s classic 1934 novel delves into the mind of a Jewish student in Romania during the fraught years preceding World War II.

This literary masterpiece revives the ideological debates of the interwar period through the journal of a Romanian Jewish student caught between anti-Semitism and Zionism. Although he endures persistent threats just to attend lectures, he feels disconnected from his Jewish peers and questions whether their activism is worth the cost. Spending his days walking the streets and his nights drinking and conversing with revolutionaries, zealots, and libertines, he remains isolated, even from the women he loves. From Bucharest to Paris, he strives to make peace with himself in an increasingly hostile world.

For Two Thousand Years echoes Mihail Sebastian’s struggles as the rise of fascism ended his career and turned his friends and colleagues against him. Born of the violence of relentless anti-Semitism, his searching, self-derisive work captures a defining moment in history and lights the way for generations to come—a prescient, heart-wrenching chronicle of resilience and despair, resistance and acceptance.

my thoughts:

What a brilliant novel! I absolutely LOVED For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian.  My first foray into Romanian literature and I am now hooked.  A literary masterpiece that has been translated into English for the first time, this book demands to be read.

This is the story of a young Jewish man who finds himself feeling alienated as he struggles with his Jewish identity during a time when anti-Semitism and Zionism were reaching a fever pitch.  His indifference to politics and religion make for rather complicated feelings.  He wants to just be, instead of belonging to specific identities.  The more we read about his feelings, his conversations and the politics surfacing around him help to lead us through the divisive and dueling nature of the climate at the time.  Here is a man who is working through his feelings of identity and belonging - complicated, honest, and raw truths and emotions - which I can't help but feel resonate in today's own political climate.

For Two Thousand Years is a slow-going novel that grows on you as you become engaged with the story, the characters, and the ways in which it explores the concept of identity and belonging.  I fell in love with the writing and the story. I wound definitely recommend this book to everyone looking for their next great read - you can't go wrong with For Two Thousand Years.

Thank you to Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!

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