The King of Chicago by Daniel Friedman
Memories of My Father

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Ostensibly about his forebears, the slim narrative is really about the author’s struggles with his Jewishness, although he doesn’t really seem to care much until the end of the book. A mostly well-written book for the author’s family and friends; others may take a pass.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

The King of Chicago is the story of a father-son relationship as real and hugely loving as that in Philip Roth’s Patrimony. At its heart is a young son who tries furiously to heal his father from a violent childhood inside a Chicago orphanage. The orphanage, the Marks Nathan Home, still stands today on the West Side of Chicago, marked by a tarnished, barely legible plaque. Once home to 14,000 Jewish orphans, it is now just another barely remembered relic of a great city. Using original articles from the orphanage newspaper, Friedman attempts to reconstruct and understand his father’s childhood, a time that his father never discussed.

Expanding its reach, The King of Chicago becomes a multigenerational saga of Jewish life, moving from a mysterious little man named Kasiel, who arrived in the Port of Baltimore in 1903 with two dollars to his name, to the factory floor of a scrap paper business, a golf course where children played without knowing the rules, and a home on the North Shore among fellow immigrants looking for something better for their children.

At its core, this memoir is both a snapshot of immigrant life in Chicago in the early twentieth century and a poignant reminder about the need to never forget who you are and where you come from.
 

About Daniel Friedman

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Dan Friedman was born in Chicago, graduated from Oxford University, and taught writing at the University of Virginia. He founded Albemarle magazine, was founding editor of La Belle France, and is author of a travel memoir, My Mother’s Side. His writing has been praised by the New York Times, Gourmet, and Money. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
 
Published May 23, 2017 by Carrel Books. 184 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction
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Kirkus

Below average
on Mar 20 2017

Ostensibly about his forebears, the slim narrative is really about the author’s struggles with his Jewishness, although he doesn’t really seem to care much until the end of the book. A mostly well-written book for the author’s family and friends; others may take a pass.

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