Nathan Englander's first work of fiction, published when he was in his late twenties, landed him firmly in the company of Bellow, Malamud, Singer and Roth, with ten delightfully irreverent stories rooted in the weight of Jewish history and the customs of orthodox life. For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is bold, funny and irresistibly inventive, a brilliant tragi-comic vision delivered in a voice that is as humorous and full of life as it is sorrowful and haunted - a work of stunning authority and imagination.In 'The Twenty-Seventh Man' a clerical error brings earnest, unpublished Pinchas into the company of writers slated for execution at the order of Stalin; in 'The Tumblers' a group of Jews fated for Auschwitz improvise an escape by blending into a troop of acrobats and teaching themselves to tumble; in the title story, a married Hasidic man incensed by his wife's interminable menstrual cycle gets a dispensation from a rabbi to see a prostitute, 'for the reliefof unbearable urges'. Englander's stories are wise and compassionate, at once outrageous and wrenchingly sad.

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