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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Red Magician by Lisa Goldstein

The Red Magician

Fairy tale?  Magical realism?  Allegory? Jewish fantasy?  Holocaust story?

All are true.  Voros, the Red Magician, foresees the Holocaust and tries to warn people, but he cannot be specific, and the idea of leaving their ordinary lives to flee a vague and unbelievable danger is beyond the scope of most people.

Kisci is a young girl in one of the villages, and she becomes very attached to Voros and tries to aid him.  But a confrontation with a stubborn and misguided magical Rabbi ends with Voros moving on.

Things in the village proceed for a few years, but eventually the Germans arrive and the villagers who survive end up in the camps.  Kisci barely survives until the end of the war, but Voros finds her and nurses her back to health.  The two have one more journey to make.

A tale of faith and the lack of faith, of vengeance and of guilt, of Jewish mysticism, magic, and the harsh realities of Holocaust.

I can't say I loved it, but The Red Magician was provocative.  I've never been entirely comfortable with magical realism-- it always leaves me with a kind of dissonance and that is certainly true in this case. 

"Lisa Goldstein has published ten novels and dozens of short stories under her own name and two fantasy novels under the pseudonym Isabel Glass. Her most recent novel is The Uncertain Places, which won the Mythopoeic Award. Goldstein received the National Book Award for The Red Magician."

NetGalley/Open Road Media

Magical Realism/Fantasy.  Originally published in 1982; new publication Oct. 21, 2014.  Print length:  144 pages.  


  1. Magical realism and I get along sometimes, but definitely not all the time.

    This book sounds interesting and like it covers quite a bit of ground and takes on several serious subjects.

  2. Wendy -- Sometimes I love magical realism, and often I don't. I think this book is a good example, but I'm still a bit uncomfortable with it.

  3. This book sounds like a good mix of everything. The holocaust subject doesn't make an easy read but I'm always intrigued by all its stories. Not sure about this one but this is definitely a book which requires the mood to read it.

  4. Melody - The book is interesting, maybe a bit allegorical. I didn't love it, but I'm not a huge fan of magical realism.