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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Cannibal Galaxy

Cynthia Ozick

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To purchase The Cannibal Galaxy

Title: The Cannibal Galaxy
Author: Cynthia Ozick
Genre: Novel
Written: 1983
Length: 162 pages
Availability: The Cannibal Galaxy - US
The Cannibal Galaxy - UK
The Cannibal Galaxy - Canada
La galaxie cannibale - France
Die Kannibalengalaxis - Deutschland

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Our Assessment:

A- : a well-written, dense, entertaining little novel

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times A- 29/8/1983 Michiko Kakutani
The NY Times Book Rev. A 11/9/1983 Edmund White

  From the Reviews:
  • "Dense with ideas and philosophic speculation, The Cannibal Galaxy is also an organic and beautifully told story of one teacher's attempts to discover his place in history and the meaning of his vocation." - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

  • "This ending left me bewildered, but moved and convinced that Miss Ozick can convert any skeptic to the cult of her shrewd and fecund imagination." - Edmund White, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Joseph Brill, principal of the Edmond Fleg Primary School in Mid-America, is the central figure of Ozick's impressive little novel. In her dense, carefully observed and very much to the point style, Ozick analyzes and describes this émigré's life. Parisian, his roots are (this being Ozick) also emphatically Jewish. Out of place in the center of the United States, he is a European intellectual incapable of completely adapting to American ways. His vision for his school ultimately fails as it winds up fostering little more than mediocracy, and he is eventually pushed out of his position. The institution itself is then renamed, as the Lakeside Grade School, American culture (or values) replacing Brill's traditional ones.
       Brill believes strongly in his system, as he tries to make something of his students, to mold them into something better. A student he places great hopes in is Beulah Lilt, but as he follows her progress through school she remains unremarkable. Brill eventually marries and fathers a child who becomes the Wunderkind of the school, a straight A student that finally realizes all Brill's hopes and proves his theories right. In a fine final twist Ozick allows Beulah to become the success (albeit as an artist -- make of that what you will), while Brill's son fails to achieve much of anything.
       A convincing portrait, painted in small, quick brushstrokes, Ozick convinces with her marvelously attuned ear. Language has always been her strength but here she also creates the scenes to sustain her narrative and form a novel out of it.
       We enjoyed The Cannibal Galaxy very much, and we recommend it highly

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Reviews: Cynthia Ozick: Other books by Cynthia Ozick under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Contemporary American fiction

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About the Author:

       American author Cynthia Ozick is the author of numerous works of fiction, as well as several collections of essays. She has been awarded a number of prizes and honors, and she has received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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