I Am the Clay by Chaim Potok

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"Potok writes powerfully about the suffering of innocent people caught in the cross-fire of a war they cannot begin to understand....Humanity and compassion for his characters leap from every page."
As the Chinese and the army of the North sweep south during the Korean War, an old peasant farmer and his wife flee their village across the bleak, bombed-out landscape. They soon come upon a boy in a ditch who is wounded and unconscious. Stirred by possessiveness and caring the woman refuses to leave the boy behind. The man thinks she is crazy to nurse this boy, to risk their lives for some dying stranger. Angry and bewildered, he waits for the boy to die. And when the boy does not die, the old man begins to believe that the boy possesss a magic upon which all their lives depend....

From the Paperback edition.

About Chaim Potok

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Chaim Potok was born in New York City in 1929. He graduated from Yeshiva University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, was ordained as a rabbi, and earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. He also served as editor of the Jewish Publication Society of America. Potok's first novel, The Chosen, published in 1967, received the Edward Lewis Wallant Memorial Book Award and was nominated for the National Book Award. He is author of eight novels, including In the Beginning and My Name is Asher Lev, and Wanderings, a history of the Jews. He died in 2002.
Published April 19, 2010 by Fawcett. 257 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, War. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for I Am the Clay

Kirkus Reviews

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Then--surely the boy is magic--the three find that the old man's village has been spared.

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Publishers Weekly

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On their way to becoming a family, each of the trio grapples with personal demons and dreams of a past that cannot be reclaimed--the old man fighting to suppress his insatiable craving for meat caught in his strong, young hunting days, the old woman recalling her baby son who died in infancy and ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Potok presents a wrenching tale about the trek of a Korean peasant couple and an orphaned boy across a war-blighted landscape.

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Los Angeles Times

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"He is the carrier of too much memory," writes Chaim Potok of the Korean boy, half-magical and half-cursed, whose story he tells in "I Am the Clay."

Jun 02 1992 | Read Full Review of I Am the Clay

The Independent

He is guided by his grandfather's favourite paradox: 'Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.' And so in the end Kim manages to be both wise and true to his grandfather - a typical Potokian compromise.

Dec 06 1992 | Read Full Review of I Am the Clay


Fans of The Chosen, The Promise and My Name Is Asher Lev may be surprised that Potok's latest work isn't even remotely connected to his usual subject, Jewish life in America.

Jul 13 1992 | Read Full Review of I Am the Clay

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