The Book of Calamities by Peter Trachtenberg
Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning

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What does it mean to suffer? What enables some people to emerge from tragedy while others are spiritually crushed by it? Why do so many Americans think of suffering as something that happens to other people-who usually deserve it? These are some of the questions at the heart of this powerful book.
Combining reportage, personal narrative, and moral philosophy, Peter Trachtenberg tells the stories of grass-roots genocide tribunals in Rwanda and tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka, an innocent man on death row, and a family bereaved on 9/11. He examines texts from the Book of Job to the Bodhicharyavatara and the writings of Simone Weil. THE BOOK OF CALAMITIES is a provocative and sweeping look at one of the biggest paradoxes of the human condition--and the surprising strength and resilience of those who are forced to confront it.

About Peter Trachtenberg

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Peter Trachtenberg is the author of the memoir 7 Tattoos and The Book of Calamaties: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning. His essays, journalism, and short fiction have been published in The New Yorker, Harper's, BOMB, TriQuarterly, O, The New York Times Travel Magazine, and A Public Space. His commentaries have been broadcast on NPR'S "All Things Considered." The recipient of a Whiting Writers Fellowship and a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Trachtenburg was also honored for The Book of Calamities, which was the recipient of the 2009 Phi Beta Kappa Ralph Waldo Emerson Award "for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity."
Published August 20, 2008 by Little, Brown and Company. 464 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Trachtenberg (Seven Tattoos ) wryly observes: “Everybody suffers, but Americans have the peculiar delusion that they’re exempt from suffering.” He shared in this denial until a friend died of cancer, and then he began to ask questions.

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Sep 07 2008 | Read Full Review of The Book of Calamities: Five ...

The Book of Calamities: Five Questions About Suffering and Its Meaning (Little, Brown) is Peter Trachtenberg's frank and urgent investigation of "the ways in which people try to find meaning in suffering, or try not to be driven mad by the possibility that it means nothing."

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Job had it right all those years ago when he queried God about his tribulations: “Why me?” Well, if he didn’t actually ask that question straight-up, that’s what the pages of anguished prose in the Book of Job meant, and it’s this age-old scurry to find meaning for calamity and suffering that’s a...

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