Books, Fiction

The Tale of the 1002nd Night

27 December 2004

image This tale is magnificient. Roth became famous for his novels Job and Radetzky March. For the contemporary reader Radetzky March is tedious. The slow decline of the Austrian Empire by itself can no longer hold our attention without connecting it to a larger, more universal story. The Tale of the 1002nd Night, in contrast, feels fresh, fast-paced and contemporary because Roth places into the background the unresolved question of how the Muslim and Christians will coexist in the industrial age.  In the foreground are the stories of individual human beings (the Shah of Persia, an Austrian aristocrat, a working class girl) who struggle to live in their particular place and position, and who become connected through small chance events. I continue to be surprised how sharp an eye Josepth Roth has and how well he can describe what he sees in the world. Roth knows the human heart in all its complications and weaves together astonishingly gripping tales.



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