Shalom Auslander, memorist and humorist, to read from his new novel "Hope: A Tragedy," March 1, 2012

Author of the acclaimed memoir "Foreskin's Lament" on his Orthodox Jewish upbringing

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Shalom Auslander, author of the novel "Hope: A Tragedy" Photo credit: Franco Vogt

ALBANY, NY (02/15/2012)(readMedia)-- Shalom Auslander, ex-Orthodox Jew, humorist, cultural renegade, fiction writer, memoirist, contributor to NPR's This American Life, and author of the first novel Hope: A Tragedy (2011), will speak about his work on Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 8:00 p.m. in the Standish Room, Science Library, on the University at Albany's uptown campus. Earlier that day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. The events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute, and are free and open to the public.

Shalom Auslander, ex-Orthodox Jew, humorist, cultural renegade, and contributor to NPR's This American Life, received both notoriety and praise for his story collection, Beware of God (2005), and the memoir, Foreskin's Lament (2007).

Hope: A Tragedy (2012), his first novel, tells the story of a troubled man, a refugee from the urban turmoil of Manhattan, who discovers-living in the attic of his Catskills home-a decrepit old woman who claims to be Anne Frank. The book wrestles in bitterly comic fashion with such issues as the purpose of suffering, the nature of God, the problem of evil, and how to explain the Holocaust to young children.

As part of the book's promotional campaign, Auslander has produced a series of videos in which he asks fellow humorists Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman, and Ira Glass whether and how they would shelter him, his wife, and child in the event of a future Holocaust.

In a New York Times review, Janet Maslin called Auslander, "an absurdist with a deep sense of gravitas. He brings to mind Woody Allen, Joseph Heller and-oxymoron here-a libido-free version of Philip Roth." Writing for, Jessica Freeman-Slade called Auslander, "a prime candidate for the position of the contemporary Isaac Bashevis Singer." Reviewing the book for NPR, Maureen Corregan called Hope: A Tragedy, "a caustic, comic tour de force." In a starred review, Publishers Weekly said, "Cultural anthropologists trying to figure out if there really is a recognizably Jewish voice and sense of humor ... should consider Auslander's debut novel."

A memoir of the author's Orthodox Jewish upbringing and his unhappy family, Foreskin's Lament is by turns painful and laugh-out-loud funny. In advance praise, Tom Perrotta said, "Foreskin's Lament is a scathing theological rant, a funny, oddly moving coming-of-age memoir, and an irreverent meditation on family, marriage, and cultural identity. God may be a bit irritated by this book, but I loved it." The Elle reviewer said, "Foreskin's Lament is not only very funny, it also manages a light weightiness like Woody Allen's-thoughtful existential inquiries wrapped in everyone's-a-schmuck irony and giddy paranoia."

Writing for The Guardian (UK), Nicholas Lezard called Beware of God: Stories, "...[an] extraordinary collection, which has an energy, a precision and a deep black humour I haven't seen in a long time. I suggest you read it, in order, in one go." In advance praise, novelist A. M. Homes said, "The stories in Beware of God mark the debut of the freshest voice in Jewish Literature since Philip Roth arrived on the scene."

Shalom Auslander was raised in Monsey, New York. Nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, he has written for the New Yorker, Esquire, and the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Woodstock.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at