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Fiction Jewish


by (author) Adele Wiseman & Margaret Laurence

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Jan 2008
Jewish, Classics, Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2008
    List Price

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Hoda, the protagonist of Crackpot, is one of the most captivating characters in Canadian fiction. Graduating from a tumultuous childhood to a life of prostitution, she becomes a legend in her neighbourhood, a canny and ingenious woman, generous, intuitive, and exuding a wholesome lust for life.

Resonant with myth and superstition, this radiant novel is a joyous celebration of life and the mystery that is at the heart of all experience.

About the authors

Adele Wiseman won the Governor General's Award for her novel The Sacrifice. She is also the author of Old Markets, New World (1964), Crackpot (1974), Testimonial Dinner (1978), Old Woman at Play (1978) and Memoirs of a Book Molesting Childhood (1978). Kenji and the Cricket is Ms Wiseman's first book for children.

Adele Wiseman died in 1991.

Adele Wiseman's profile page

Margaret Laurence was born in 1926 in Neepawa, Manitoba. She published her first novel, This Side of Jordan (one of several works to be set in Africa), in 1960. The Stone Angel, published in 1964, was her second novel. It was an immediate success, as were her four subsequent Manawaka novels: A Jest of God (which won the 1967 Governor General's Award and was later made into the film Rachel, Rachel), The Fire Dwellers, A Bird in the House, and The Diviners — winner of the 1974 Governor General's Award. In 1971, Laurence was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Remembered also as a peace activist, she died in 1987.

Margaret Laurence's profile page

Excerpt: Crackpot (by (author) Adele Wiseman & Margaret Laurence)

Out of Shew. Bed and Golda came Rahel Out of Malka and Benyamin came Danile, Out of Danile and Rahel came Hoda, Out of Hoda, Pipick came, Pipick born in secrecy and mystery and terror, for what did Hoda know?
In the daytime her frail and ever-so-slightly humpbacked mother, or so they described her to blind Danile before they rushed them off to be married, used to take Hoda along with her to the houses where she cleaned. And partly to keep her quiet, and partly because of an ever-present fear, for she felt that she would never have another child, Rahel carried always with her, in a large, cotton kerchief, tied into a peasant-style sack, a magically endless supply of food. All day long, at the least sign of disquiet, she fed the child, for Hoda even then was big-voiced and forward, and sometimes said naughty things to people. Rather than risk having an employer forbid her the privilege of bringing the little girl to work, Rahel forestalled trouble. Things can’t go in and out of the same little mouth simultaneously.

Hoda for her part enjoyed eating. She was on the whole a good-natured child. Even in the moments when her jaws were unwillingly at rest she was content to let her flecked ashgrey eyes linger contemplatively on the yellow and white dotted kerchief sack for what she felt were long periods of time while she restrained herself from disturbing her mother at her work. When at last she could refrain no longer, for she was only a child after all, Hoda would give vent to a surprisingly chesty contralto. “Ma-a-a,” she would rumble, “Maa-a-a-a-ah!”

Rahel would rise quickly from her knees, wipe her hands, untie the kerchief, and give her daughter another little something to chew on. It amused some of her employers to see this continuous process, and they entertained themselves by feeding the child too, just to be able to comment, in what Rahel mistook for admiration, on how much she could put away. Hoda herself never refused these gifts of food, though there was something of aloofness, even of condescension, in her acceptance, as there is with some zoo animals that people feed for their own amusement. It was as though in allowing them to play their game she was not necessarily accepting their terms of reference. Occasionally a woman with kindly intentions would scold Rahel for letting her little girl get so fat. Rahel misinterpreted the kindly intentions and resented these critics who wanted her to deny her child. She saw in it simply another sign that it is the way of the rich to deny the poor, and continued to make sure that her child was bigger and more beautiful every day. Why else does a mother crawl on her knees in the houses of strangers?

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