Cousin’s Club – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Warren Alexander

Warren Alexander’s Cousins’ Club is a satirical portrait of Jewish families in 1950’s New York. Convinced that her family is the least successful – and stupidest – Jewish family in America, the matriarch of the family declares that her next grandchild will be a genius. She devises a pact; the child will be passed from one family member to another so that he can learn all that each person has to teach him. What ensues is a colorful, hilarious adventure with over-the-top characters and a lesson around every corner.

Sometimes, Cousins’ Club tended to get carried away with its humor and slightly neglected conventional storytelling, making it difficult to decipher what is happening in some scenes and who is speaking in others. Also, despite there being a glossary of Yiddish terms at the end of the book, the lack of adequate context clues or reference to said glossary often made it difficult to follow dialogue when those Yiddish phrases came out to play. It is not evident until the end of the book that a glossary exists at all, and it doesn’t do much good at that point since the reader has already had to navigate the book without knowing of the glossary’s existence.

Aside from those slight mishaps, though, Cousins’ Club is a truly phenomenal read. Warren Alexander expertly blends a memoir-style narrative with satirical fiction, masterfully creating a work that is so absurd, it’s almost easier to believe it all rather than brush it off as the satire it is. The dry, sarcastic humor and eccentric, colorful characters are hilarious without trying too hard and often elicit real, out-loud chuckles. Each story, each family member, and each conversation is better than the last, making Cousins’ Club a constant page-turner. Cousin’s Club is an unforgettable literary experience, chock full of humor, creativity, and a family so wonderfully whacky that it’s guaranteed to leave the reader wanting more.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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