The Village Idiot

We rated this book:


If even half of what is in this book is accurate, Chaim Soutine was a fascinating man. Unfortunately, he was also a man intent on his own mystery; the acknowledgments mention there are few biographical writings about him. My mild forays into research revealed mostly anecdotes and stray stories.

So: I am left with the novel. It is experimental, but not so much that it becomes off-putting or too clever for its own good. It jumps back and forth between years in Soutine’s life, always anchored by the story of him walking along the bottom of a river. Bit by bit, pieces are stitched together, forming a whole. It is beautiful in the same way Soutine’s paintings are beautiful. It is never entirely real and, at times, reveals the fascinating grotesque of the perfectly ordinary.

It wouldn’t be right to say that I couldn’t look away. It’s better to say I had no wish to.

Stern has crafted a biographical novel that drew in even me, someone only occasionally interested in art history. I’m very glad I had the chance to delve into the richness of this book.

Reviewed By:

Author Steve Stern
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count
Publisher Melville House
Publish Date 13-Sep-2022
ISBN 9781612199825 Buy this Book
Issue September 2022
Category Historical Fiction