The Trick

A Novel

The Trick

A deeply moving, humorous story of a boy who believes in everything and an old man who believes in nothing.

In 1934, a rabbi’s son in Prague joins a traveling circus, becomes a magician, and rises to fame under the stage name the Great Zabbatini just as Europe descends into World War II. When Zabbatini is discovered to be a Jew, his battered trunk full of magic tricks becomes his only hope of surviving the concentration camp where he is sent.

Seven decades later in Los Angeles, ten-year-old Max finds a scratched-up LP that captured Zabbatini performing his greatest tricks. But the track in which Zabbatini performs his love spell—the spell Max believes will keep his disintegrating family together—is damaged beyond repair. Desperate for a solution, Max seeks out the now elderly, cynical magician and begs him to perform his magic on his parents. As the two develop an unlikely friendship, Moshe discovers that Max and his family have a surprising connection to the dark, dark days the Great Zabbatini experienced during the war.

Recalling the melancholy humor of Isaac Bashevis Singer and the heartbreaking pathos of the film Life is Beautiful—this outstanding first novel is at once an irreverent yet deeply moving story about a young boy who believes in magic and a disillusioned old man who believes in nothing, as well as a gripping and heartfelt tale about the circle of life.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501155826 | 
  • September 2017
List Price $35.00 (price may vary by retailer)

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Trick includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

When the son of a rabbi walks into the tent of a traveling circus, his life is changed forever. Mesmerized by the Half-Moon Man and his beautiful assistant, he decides to leave home and train as a magician, eventually rising to fame under the stage name the Great Zabbatini. As Europe descends into World War II, Zabbatini is discovered to be a Jew, and his battered trunk full of magic tricks becomes his only hope for survival.

Seventy years later in Los Angeles, ten-year-old Max finds a scratched-up LP that captured Zabbatini performing his greatest illusions. But the track in which Zabbatini performs the spell of eternal love—which Max believes will keep his parents from getting divorced—is damaged beyond repair. Desperate for a solution, Max seeks out the Great Zabbatini. What he finds instead is an elderly cynical magician in need of redemption who no longer believes in anything.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. From the beginning of The Trick, Moshe Goldenhirsch’s story is woven like a fairy tale—a stark contrast see more

About the Author

Emanuel Bergmann
Philipp Rohner/© Diogenes Verlag

Emanuel Bergmann

Emanuel Bergmann was born in Germany and is a journalist and translator. He has been living in Los Angeles since 1990. His first novel, The Trick, is an international bestseller.

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