Cover image for Who was David Weiser?
Who was David Weiser?
Huelle, Paweł, 1957-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1992]

Physical Description:
304 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Translation of: Weiser Dawidek.

"A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book."
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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

An unbroken reminiscence on a mysterious episode from childhood, this first novel is a brooding and strange time capsule from the summer of 1957. The author, a professor of Polish literature at the University of Gdansk, got his start in the press office of Solidarity and completed this book in 1987. He writes elliptically about his fixation--an 11-year-old Jewish boy named David Weiser--attributing to David all kinds of miracles, including the power to hypnotize man and beast; to single-handedly orchestrate and win a soccer game; to amass an entire artillery and to set off prettily colored explosions with a magneto; to levitate; and finally, to disappear without a trace. The character of David may be a metaphor for the peculiar, glorified role the Jew sometimes plays in the Polish psyche. Without a doubt, David Weiser, appearing to be both demon and angel, has left an indelible mark on the narrator. ~--Anne Schmitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

This strange, almost hypnotic but ultimately unsatisfying novel by a Polish literature professor examines the summer of 1957 in Gdansk. Looking back from the present day, the narrator, Heller, describes how he and his friends, then 11-year-olds, grew involved with a mysterious classmate, the eponymous Weiser. A Jew, Weiser seems possessed of magical powers, and the boys fall under his sway, eventually becoming unwitting accomplices to his inexplicable disappearance. In a ruminative narrative--filled with repetitions which become almost musical in structure, asides, false starts, flash forwards and flashbacks--Huelle offers a hard-nosed, Polish version of magical realism. A small boy, for example, entrances a panther in the local zoo, levitates himself and sets off surreal explosions. Rumbling in the background are the political upheavals of 1970 and 1980, events that will kill a central character. The novel is on its surest footing in its merciless delineation of a sadistic teacher, and in a spirited series of digressions involving an escaped lunatic. But the denouement, regrettably, leaves many questions unanswered, including the one posed by the title. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Author-journalist-professor Huelle makes an auspicious debut with this highly creative first novel, originally published in 1987 in his native Poland. Reaching into his memory, seeking help futilely from childhood friends, the novel's protagonist aims to discover what really happened to David Weiser 30 years ago during the summer of 1957 in Gdansk. Does his memory serve him well when he recalls feats of levitation and spectacular explosions, Jew-baiting, and thousands of dead fish, or is it playing tricks on him? The novel unfolds with stories nested in stories while the author makes intriguing use of fictive time, interweaving past, present, and future. The novel, well translated here, is an imaginative tour de force by one of Poland's most prominent contemporary writers. Essential for libraries whose patrons are interested in European fiction.-- Olivia Opello, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.