For the Relief of Unbearable Urges

Introduction

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges is a short story collection by Nathan Englander, first published by Knopf in 1999. It has received many positive reviews.[1] It earned Englander a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction. The collection contains nine stories, many of which are set in the Jewish Orthodox world. The title story tells of a married Hasidic Jew who receives special dispensation from a rabbi to visit a prostitute – "for the relief of unbearable urges."[2] The story "The Twenty-seventh Man", about Yiddish writers killed by Stalin, is an allusion to the Night of the Murdered Poets.

The contents, in order:

  • "The Twenty-seventh Man"
  • "The Tumblers"
  • "Reunion"
  • "The Wig"
  • "The Gilgul of Park Avenue"
  • "Reb Kringle"
  • "The Last One Way"
  • "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges"
  • "In This Way We Are Wise"

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