The Brothers Ashkenazi

  • Author I. J. Singer
  • Narrator Stefan Rudnicki
  • Publisher Blackstone Publishing
  • Run Time 17 hours and 19 minutes
  • Format Audio
  • Genre Fiction: general and literary.

Listen to a sample

What to expect

In the Polish city of Lodz, the Brothers Ashkenazi grew up very differently in talent and in temperament. Max, the firstborn, is fiercely intelligent and conniving, determined to succeed financially by any means necessary. Slower-witted Jacob is strong, handsome, and charming but without great purpose in life. While Max is driven by ambition and greed to be more successful than his brother, Jacob is drawn to easy living and decadence. As waves of industrialism and capitalism flood the city, the brothers and their families are torn apart by the clashing impulses of old piety and new skepticism, traditional ways and burgeoning appetites, and the hatred that grows between faiths, citizens, and classes. Despite all attempts to control their destinies, the brothers are caught up by forces of history, love, and fate, which shape and, ultimately, break them.

First published in 1936, The Brothers Ashkenazi quickly became a bestseller as a sprawling family saga. Breaking away from the introspective shtetl tales of classic nineteenth-century writers, I. J. Singer brought to Yiddish literature the multilayered plots, large casts of characters, and narrative sweep of the traditional European novel. Walking alongside such masters as Zola, Flaubert, and Tolstoy, I. J. Singer’s pre-modernist social novel stands as a masterpiece of storytelling.

Critics Review

  • “One of the great books…It can be compared to Tolstoy’s War and Peace without condescension.”

    New York Sun
  • “A wonderful novel.”

    Saul Bellow
  •  “The most important novel of Jewish life so far published in English.”

    Philip Rahv
  • “The book has the grand sweep of Tolstoy…with pitch-perfect artistry and pace.”

    Wall Street Journal
  •  “The Brothers Ashkenazi rates a place on any shelf devoted to modern works of art.”

  • “Stefan Rudnicki has the perfect voice for this epic tale about very different brothers living in Poland…Rudnicki’s narration is raspy, low, and rapid…[and] conveys a harsh masculinity that suits the narrative trajectory…an apt choice for this enduring family epic.”


More from the same

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to get tailored content recommendations, product updates and info on new releases. Your data is your own: we commit to protect your data and respect your privacy.