The Book of Calamities

Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning
By Peter Trachtenberg (Hardcover Book, 2008)
What does it mean to suffer? What enables some people to emerge from tragedy while others are spiritually crushed by it? Why do so many Americans think of suffering as something that happens to other people-who usually deserve it? These are some of the questions at the heart of this powerful book.
Combining reportage, personal narrative, and moral philosophy, Peter Trachtenberg tells the stories of grass-roots genocide tribunals in Rwanda and tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka, an innocent man on death row, and a family bereaved on 9/11. He examines texts from the Book of Job to the Bodhicharyavatara and the writings of Simone Weil. THE BOOK OF CALAMITIES is a provocative and sweeping look at one of the biggest paradoxes of the human condition--and the surprising strength and resilience of those who are forced to confront it.
  • Little, Brown and Company
    • Format: Hardcover Book

    • Price: $23.99 US/$26.99 CAN

    • ISBN-13: 9780316158794

    • On Sale Date: 08/27/2008

    • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

    Formats Available: Hardcover Book, Electronic Book

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What does it mean to suffer? What enables some people to emerge from tragedy while others are spiritually crushed by it? Why do so many Americans think of suffering as something that happens to other people-who usually deserve it? These are some of the questions at the heart of this powerful book.
Combining reportage, personal narrative, and moral philosophy, Peter Trachtenberg tells the stories of grass-roots genocide tribunals in Rwanda and tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka, an innocent man on death row, and a family bereaved on 9/11. He examines texts from the Book of Job to the Bodhicharyavatara and the writings of Simone Weil. THE BOOK OF CALAMITIES is a provocative and sweeping look at one of the biggest paradoxes of the human condition--and the surprising strength and resilience of those who are forced to confront it.

Peter Trachtenberg's essays and short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, TriQuarterly, Bomb, the Jewish Forward, and Chicago, and have been broadcast on NPR's "All Things Considered." He received the Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction and the Jerome Lowell DeJur Award for Fiction from the City College of New York. He has taught at Brown University, The New School, Johns Hopkins, NYU, the School of Visual Arts, and City College of New York. He lives in Rhinebeck, New York with his wife, Mary Gaitskill.
  • [Starred Review] "Writing movingly about victims and survivors of natural disasters, war, genocide, domestic violence, addiction, illness, suicide and injustice, Trachtenberg deftly intermingles their stories with observations from religion, philosophy and literature....The Book of Calamities, like Andrew Solomon's The Noonday Demon, succeeds because it asks the right questions, calls on the experience of articulate witnesses and--through skillful narrative and trenchant observation--beguiles the reader into facing heartbreaking reality." (Publishers Weekly).

  • "Frank and urgent....Trachtenberg raises complex questions about justice, malice, compassion, blame, self-pity, personal responsibility, faith, and doubt....He harvests wisdom from the likes of Primo Levi, Siddhartha, and Simone Weil, from Aeschylus's Oresteia and the book of Job." (O, The Oprah Magazine).

  • PRAISE FOR 7 TATTOOS:

    "A razor-sharp perspicacity that recalls Joan Didion in her prime. . . Trachtenberg combines his complex insights with such a fierce efficiency that you feel he must be writing for his life." (Spin).

  • "A genuine American Dostoevsky-not so much an imitator as a recurrence." (--Washington Post Book World).

  • (Publishers Weekly).

  • (Library Journal).

Formats

Product Details

The Book of Calamities
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Price: $23.99 US/$26.99 CAN
  • Pages: 464
  • Physical Dimensions: 5-1/2" x 8-1/4"
  • Audio Run Time: 0
  • ISBN-13: 9780316158794
  • On Sale Date: 08/27/2008
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