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Set in contemporary Berlin, Disposable Man tells the story of Max Krumm: American expatriate, struggling journalist and the reluctant descendant of Holocaust survivors. Krumm also suffers from a mysterious genetic disorder: All of the men in his family are cuckolds. After his German wife leaves him, Krumm falls ill and is haunted by memories of his Jewish past—in particular, a desperate postcard his great aunt once sent from the Siberian gulag addressed simply, “Albert Einstein, U.S.A.” A multigenerational novel woven into the backdrop of revolutionary-era Russia and Nazi Europe, Disposable Man tackles enduring themes of loss, male identity and the search for meaning. Holding up a mirror to Gen X and millennials, it explores today’s generation of stalled, disposable men as it follows Krumm on a rambling journey east through Poland into Lithuania where he attempts to uncover a family secret and, in the process, regains his manhood.
This remarkable novel about a young man’s search for the continuity of his portable life, among the ruins of a murdered past and in the face of a blank future, is rich with delights, insights, warranted sadness, and a longing to make sense of history.
Todd Gitlin, author of The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage and the novel Undying
Welcome to the nadir of post-employment, post-feminist, mediocre masculinity. Michael Levitin’s wise, funny tale is brilliant in both its pathos and earnestness. You’ll thank him afterward for this splash of world-historical cold water.
author of Everything for Everyone: The Radical Tradition that is Shaping the Next Economy
We’ve collectively torched the planet the last century and a half, men leading the ruination. Levitin’s labyrinthian embrace of our follies, tyrants, cuckolds, and lovers, not to mention aunts who write postcards to Einstein from the gulag and stoned buddies on bikes in Poland, is laughter and memory layered over it all and delivered by a compelling, life-hammered voice you trust from page one.
Joe Sherman, author of Fast Lane on a Dirt Road and Gasp! The Swift and Terrible Beauty of Air
This picaresque novel allows us to explore not only Eastern Europe but gives us entrée into Berlin’s expatriate scene and tenders a witty sociological analysis of the city’s bourgeois-bohemians that is worth the price of admission. Michael Levitin, a journalist by trade and former Berlin resident, knows this turf well. This is an insightful, entertaining and multi-faceted work with something on offer for everyone.
Kevin McAleer, author of Errol Flynn: An Epic Life and the novels Surferboy and Berlin Tango
Michael Levitin was born in Maine in 1976 and grew up in northern California. He studied history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned his Masters degree from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time, among other publications. He was co-founding editor of the Occupied Wall Street Journal and founding editor of the Prague Literary Review. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his partner and daughter. This is his first novel.