Friday, June 12, 2009

Modern Jewish Books – Jesse Kellerman's The Genius

I have to admit, I wasn't familiar with Jewish author Jesse Kellerman prior to reading The Genius. Having read the novel, I must say that Kellerman is one of the most intriguing Jewish authors today.

The Genius is an extraordinary piece in terms of writing, style, and plot.

Ethan Muller is a New York art dealer, young and ambitious. For Ethan, art is defined by its price tag. And who decides what art is? The art dealer. Indeed, Ethan is a self-centered, narcissistic protagonist. When Ethan receives a strange phone call telling him he must go to check a deserted art collection by an anonymous artist, he is astonished to discover a series of paintings that are extremely intense, psychotic even. At this point, Kellerman describes the drawings so vividly that you can literally feel their psychotic and compelling nature. The artist, Victor Cracke, disappears off the ground and no one knows of his whereabouts. Ethan starts to deal with the paintings as if they were his own. Soon enough, he begins to receive threatening letters. Ethan then receives another unexpected phone call from a retired NYPD cop who reveals to him a disturbing secret - an image of a boy in one of Cracke's paintings belongs to a victim of a serial pedophile rapist and murderer who was never caught.

Drawn into this wild realm, Ethan is about to discover buried secrets connected to his own family saga of the Jewish immigrant family that became rich and powerful.

Kellerman skillfully threads art, social criticism, and psycho-analysis with the history of Jewish immigrants bathed in romance and mystery. The Genius is a well-written modern (Jewish!) thriller that you will not be able to put down. This ambitious novel is a great gift for anyone who enjoys mystery books.

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