“The Canvas has a unique structure: half way through the book the first of its two narratives ends, and to continue reading readers must turn the book upside down and start again at the other end. The book has two front covers, and readers can start with either one.” Also see my review on New York Journal of Books: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/review/canvas
Yesterday The Canvas, a psychological mystery by contemporary Jewish-German author Benjamin Stein(no relation to the American comedic actor, game show host, and conservative pundit) was published by Open Letter, a literary press of the University of Rochester that specializes in literature in translation. Open Letter should be commended for publishing foreign literature in translation, but who was the genius who scheduled the publication date of a Jewish-themed book on Yom Kippur?
The Canvas has a unique structure: half way through the book the first of its two narratives ends, and to continue reading readers must turn the book upside down and start again at the other end. The book has two front covers, and readers can start with either one.
Each of the two narratives is focused on a different protagonist, and the paths of the two cross towards the end of each section. Amnon Zichroni is an Orthodox from birth psychiatrist whose coming of age story story starts in early adolescence and is vaguely reminiscent of Chaim Potok’s The Chosen. Like The Chosen, part of Amnon’s story takes place in New York’s Yeshiva University. Jan Wechsler is a book publisher who became Orthodox as an adult and fears he is experiencing amnesia.
In my New York Journal of books review I guardedly recommend The Canvas to Jewishly knowledgable fans of the psychological mystery genre. My recommendation is guarded because I found the endings of the two narratives disappointing, and because the book requires suspensions of disbelief without which readers are likely to become preoccupied with the plausibility of particular details that don’t add up–something likely to frustrate mystery readers.
There is a video interview of The Canvas‘s author Benjamin Stein on the publisher’s Three Percent blog.