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The Village Idiot by Steve Stern
Paperback $19.99
Sep 12, 2023 | ISBN 9781685890773

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  • Sep 12, 2023 | ISBN 9781685890773

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  • Sep 13, 2022 | ISBN 9781612199825

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  • Sep 13, 2022 | ISBN 9781612199832

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Product Details


A Publishers Weekly Best Novel of 2022

“Stern has blended biography and fabulism into a frothy picaresque that … vibrates to the “sweet celestial confusion” of Soutine’s painting: delirious and earthy, reverent and irreligious.” — The New York Times Book Review

“A lively work of intellectual escapism in the vein of a Tom Stoppard comedy…the book’s frantic pace and vivid prose feel true to the artist.” — The Wall Street Journal

“Mixing history, art criticism, biographical facts, and fiction, Stern aims to put flesh and blood on the bare bones of what little is known about Soutine…Descriptions of the Paris art scene, its cafés and its museums, add a vibrant touch…His evocation of Soutine’s misshapen faces, twisty white houses, wind-bent trees, bloody beef carcasses, and dead birds helps to bring the narrative alive.” — National Review

“Stern brings the slovenly, uncouth, and smelly Chaim to life as a modern art visionary, adding humor and heartache to the inspired artist’s painful and tragic life, and he shines in his use of Jewish folklore and characters. This luscious blend of fantasy and reality captivates.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“Poignant, richly colorful… An outstanding portrait by a writer at the top of his form.” — Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

“In an act of resounding creative alchemy, audaciously imaginative Stern combines his fascination with Jewish folktales and mysticism with the life and work of painter Chaim Soutine, forging saturated, gleaming, and tumultuous prose that captures the vision and vehemence of Soutine’s thickly textured, writhing, nearly hallucinatory paintings….Stern’s kinetically inventive and insightful homage is incandescent, riveting, and revelatory in its wrestling with the mysteries of creativity and the scourge of antisemitism.” — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Witty, dark, and poignant, you’ll want to strap in for Stern’s venture into Soutine’s adventures and romances.” — Apartment Therapy

“A playful, frolicking novel, one that leans well into the exuberance of Paris and the art world located at its heart… Even while The Village Idiot aptly wrestles with weighty issues such as the nature of art and the realities of the Holocaust there is, much like life itself, nonetheless much to enjoy and entertain.” — The Chicago Review of Books

“In The Village Idiot, Soutine comes fully to life and is fully alive…There are many difficult truths in Soutine’s life, and Stern doesn’t shy from any of them. Instead, he offers to readers a biography, completely fiction yet seemingly true, a portrait as complete and inhabited as any Soutine could have painted himself.” —

“Through this vivid, affecting portrait of a confounding iconoclast, Stern reminds us of the importance of moving forward, adapting to unusual circumstances, and finding true friends.” — The Washington Independent Review of Books

“An inherently fascinating and impressively well crafted novel from first page to last, “The Village Idiot” showcases author Steve Stern’s exceptional storytelling skills.” — The Midwest Book Review

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