A propulsive, incendiary novel about faith, race, class, and what it means to have a home, from Joshua Cohen, “a major American writer” (The New York Times)
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY VULTURE AND BOOKFORUM
One of the boldest voices of his generation, Joshua Cohen returns with Moving Kings, a powerful and provocative novel that interweaves, in profoundly intimate terms, the housing crisis in America’s poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods with the world's oldest conflict, in the Middle East.
The year is 2015, and twenty-one-year-olds Yoav and Uri, veterans of the last Gaza War, have just completed their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces. In keeping with national tradition, they take a year off for rest, recovery, and travel. They come to New York City and begin working for Yoav’s distant cousin David King—a proud American patriot, Republican, and Jew, and the recently divorced proprietor of King’s Moving Inc., a heavyweight in the tri-state area’s moving and storage industries. Yoav and Uri now must struggle to become reacquainted with civilian life, but it’s not easy to move beyond their traumatic pasts when their days are spent kicking down doors as eviction-movers in the ungentrified corners of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, throwing out delinquent tenants and seizing their possessions. And what starts off as a profitable if eerily familiar job—an “Occupation”—quickly turns violent when they encounter one homeowner seeking revenge.
Praise for Moving Kings
“A Jewish Sopranos . . . utterly engrossing, full of passionate sympathy . . . Cohen is an extraordinary prose stylist, surely one of the most prodigious at work in American fiction today.”—James Wood, The New Yorker
“Brilliant . . . It feels master-planned to slowly unsettle your convictions, as the best novels do. . . . Cohen has a brain-on-fire intellect and a Balzac-grade enthusiasm for understanding varieties of experience.”—Los Angeles Times
“Moving Kings is a lit fuse, a force let loose, a creeping flame heading for demolition, and Cohen himself is a master of argot and wit.”—Cynthia Ozick
“A dazzling and poignant book.”—Rachel Kushner
“Cohen’s writing is filled with sharp turns of phrase and elegant rhythms. . . . The denouement is as vengeful as any Old Testament plot twist. . . . Cohen has become one of America’s top young novelists.”—Time
Two Israeli soldiers immigrate to New York City to work as eviction movers in this striking, erratic novel from the author of Book of Numbers. The novel's early sections follow the middle-aged Jewish owner of King's Moving, David King, an estranged father who invites his 22-year-old cousin, Yoav, to work for him after Yoav's discharge from the IDF. Following a poignant flashback to David's lone trip to Israel, the novel focuses on Yoav, first on his fraught military experience, then on the unsmooth transition to American civilian life. The novel then alternates between Yoav's assimilation and the arduous lack thereof for Uri, another solider from his unit, who eventually comes stateside to work for King's Moving, leading to a haphazard climax involving a sledgehammer, a gun, and some reactivated military training. The prose achieves a wild brilliance but cannot sustain it, focusing too little on what feels like the beating heart of the story. There are, however, admirable risks to be found on most every page, resulting in an ambitious and thought-provoking read.