Finalist, Best First Book, 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (the Caribbean and Canada)
There is a Jewish proverb that goes: "Grandchildren are your reward from God for not having murdered your children." And so The Briss begins, with Sammy, the father of two grown children he would like to choke the life out of. His daughter Marilyn has just ended an affair that should have been kept a secret. In the meantime, his younger son, Teddy, who had left months ago on a ten–day Birthright Israel tour, got himself mixed up with gush shalom Israelis who introduced him to a diaspora Palestinian woman visiting her ailing grandmother in Ramallah. Teddy falls in love with her, and, well, knocks her up.
Sammy, who fought in Israel in '48 but moved back home to Winnipeg years ago, a move he has regretted, is forced into an angry struggle with his son that reveals all their unresolved emotional conflicts. A wildly entertaining and poignant novel, The Briss explores, on a personal level, family relationships, and on a political level, the continuing debate about Jewish identity and its connection to Israel and Palestine.
"[A]n almost perfectly executed comic novel ... [a] multigenerational comic gem" and "a wonderful debut ... Tregebov has a tone–perfect ear for dialogue in both settings, and a compassionate eye that finds humanity and humor in all his varied characters." – Vancouver Review
"[Tregebov] has a pitch–perfect ear for language and dialogue ... The Briss ... teeters precariously between comedy and tragedy ... Tregebov, like other exceptional Winnipeg Jewish writers including Adele Wiseman and Miriam Waddington, ultimately succeeds on the force of his authenticity, which gives rise to genuine pathos and a comedic glimpse at the absurdity of life ... Buy it." – National Post
"The cast of players, from stars to walk–ons, are distinct and immediate ... The characters are in the room with you ... [The Briss] is a trend–breaker, aggressively funny and stealthily horrific, plus it doesn't fret about including serious discussions on the politics of war – sort of like Hemingway, but with stand–up panache in place of biblical cadences ... an equal literary might be at work here ... Tregebov's Jewish Winnipeg raises echoes of Richler's Montreal." – the Globe and Mail
"[A] provocative novel [that's] ideal for those who like a little politics with their humour ... outrageously funny, even as it confronts hard questions of Palestinian, Arab, Israeli and Jewish identity." – Winnipeg Free Press
"Tregebov. . . isn't just interested in tackling the problems of the Middle East, but also in showing how remote conflicts can influence the lives of ordinary Canadians ... With such controversial subject matter, it's inevitable that The Briss is going to ruffle some feathers ... Tregebov paints a sympathetic and often funny portrait of an aging Jewish couple disappointed by their children, and ostracized by their friends." – Prairie Books NOW
"The Briss ricochets from Winnipeg kitchens to the ravaged West Bank. Its family dialogues soar on absurdist realism: the illogic of resentments, clashing egos and dangerous ideals. Mixing humour with the stealthily horrific, Tregebov echoes the incisiveness of Hemingway on war, with stand–up panache in place of biblical cadences" – Jim Bartley's Top 5 for 2009 (the Globe and Mail)close this panel