“Those who lament that the novel has lost its prophecy should pay heed and cover-price:Muck is the future, both of Jerusalem and of literature. God is showing some rare good taste, by choosing to speak to us through Dror Burstein.” —Joshua Cohen, author ofMoving KingsandBook of Numbers
In a Jerusalem both ancient and modern, where the First Temple squats over the populace like a Trump casino, where the streets are literally crawling with prophets and heathen helicopters buzz over Old Testament sovereigns, two young poets are about to have their lives turned upside down.
Struggling Jeremiah is worried that he might be wasting his time trying to be a writer; the great critic Broch just beat him over the head with his own computer keyboard. Mattaniah, on the other hand, is a real up-and-comer—but he has a secret he wouldn’t want anyone in the literary world to know: his late father was king of Judah.
Jeremiah begins to despair, and in that despair has a vision: that Jerusalem is doomed, and that Mattaniah will not only be forced to ascend to the throne but will thereafter witness his people slaughtered and exiled. But what does it mean to tell a friend and rival that his future is bleak? What sort of grudges and biases turn true vision into false prophecy? Can the very act of speaking a prediction aloud make it come true? And, if so, does that make you a seer, or just a schmuck?
Dramatizing the eternal dispute between poetry and power, between faith and practicality, between haves and have-nots, Dror Burstein’sMuckis a brilliant and subversive modern-dress retelling of the book of Jeremiah: a comedy with apocalyptic stakes by a star of Israeli fiction.
"Muck featurestalking dogs, angelic interventions, and (most importantly) the largest bowl of hummus in the world—hardly what we might expect from a book purporting to retell the Book of Jeremiah. But this epic social novel, because it is and isnotset in present-day Jerusalem, is and isnota political novel, maintains a balancing act. By retrofitting the Biblical source text to a worldly rendition of the Middle East in crisis, it manages to contain its surrealism and focus its absurdity to strikingly sober ends . . . Burstein has acharmingly light touch that manages to convey both urgency and a fatalist’s taste for the absurd." —J. W. McCormack,Longreads
"Burstein’s fictional Jerusalem is mired in filth, corruption and crises of muddy intractability. One of the most brilliant of today’s Israeli authors, Burstein allows his language to slip with ease between the biblical and the contemporary . . .A tour de force. . .Muck treats readers to nothing less thanpostmodern prophecy." —Adam Rovner,The Forward
"[Muckis] the story ofthe Book of Jeremiah by way of Atlantic City; it's a tale ofcosmic conflict and very small-scale, very human thwarted ambitions—and it's oftenbitingly funny." —Steve Donoghue,Open Letters Review
"InMuck . . .Bursteinbrilliantly and movingly superimposes [the prophet] Jeremiah’s poetic imprecations against the Israel of his time and the strange trajectory of his career, as described in the biblical book named after him, on Israel’s present-day travails. It could easily fall flat, butin Burstein’s hands it is both hilarious and appalling." —Gabriel Josipovici,The New Statesman
"Israeli writer Dror Burstein’s novelMuckturns all the way back to the Babylonian conquest of Judah, updating the scriptural story of Jeremiah . . .An absurdist blending of ancient and contemporary details . . . in the kvetching style of Joseph Heller." —Sam Sacks,The Wall Street Journal
"Influenced by such masterworks asPhilip Roth's scabrousSabbath's Theater, Joseph Heller's satiricalCatch-22, and the modernist works of Thomas Pynchon, [Muck] is alternately hilarious (dig those talking dogs) and gripping in its treatment of the power of words. Ultimately, Burstein delivers page-turning suspense that gains resonance through its relevance to contemporary Israel . . .a dazzling and dizzying triumph." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Asurrealandsearingstory." —Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Burstein manages to wrestPynchonian satire from biblical eschatology, and his narrative is frequently funny . . . The prevailing sentiment, as Jeremiah’s warnings go unheeded by his fellow light-rail commuters, is anall-too-familiar sense of anxiety about an uncertain future." —Brendan Driscoll,Booklist
"Gritty realism intermixes with historical allusion, allowing [Muck] to function on several levels. The transmogrification of ancient events into a modern context creates a gripping world of hyperrealistic abandon." —Henry Bankhead,Library Journal
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