• Review
By – November 13, 2023

A hilar­i­ous and pro­found explo­ration of mor­tal­i­ty, this nov­el begins with the death of Avishay Sar-Shalom, a renowned eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor and a pos­si­ble can­di­date for the Nobel Prize in eco­nom­ics. Because the Nobel Prize is giv­en only to those who are alive at the time of the announce­ment, Avishay’s four best friends decide to keep his death a secret for a week until the prize com­mit­tee in Swe­den makes its deci­sion. As the pres­sure of being dis­cov­ered mounts, and Avishay’s body steadi­ly decom­pos­es in the back­ground, the read­er is thrown head­first into a won­der­ful­ly macabre, slap­stick adventure.

Avishay’s ground­break­ing eco­nom­ic the­o­ry, called the Class King” mod­el, pre­dicts shift­ing pow­er rela­tions with­in groups. Noa Yedlin bril­liant­ly explores this top­ic through dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters’ points of view, and through the com­plex yet frag­ile dynam­ics of their friend group.

Each friend has some­thing to gain from Avishay win­ning the cov­et­ed prize. Zohara, a ghost writer who has been hav­ing a secret affair with Avishay for years, hopes to inher­it the prize mon­ey. Yehu­da, who invent­ed the bag open­er” decades ago and made mil­lions sell­ing the patent, wants to pub­lish a book about becom­ing an inven­tor — a book for which Avishay has (begrudg­ing­ly) writ­ten an intro­duc­tion. Yehu­da fan­ta­sizes about the sub­ti­tle for this book: With an intro­duc­tion by Nobel Prize Lau­re­ate Avishay Sar-Shalom.” Amos, Avishay’s aca­d­e­m­ic rival and a pro­fes­sor who spe­cial­izes in the eco­nom­ics of hap­pi­ness, wish­es to prove that he isn’t jeal­ous of his more suc­cess­ful friend. And Nil­li, a pedi­a­tri­cian who hates chil­dren, has always felt like a hang­er-on, and views the sit­u­a­tion as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to show that she, too, is an inte­gral part of the friend group.

One par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable moment involves a child­hood mem­o­ry. Yehu­da remem­bered that time in ele­men­tary school when they’d built the Shoah out of card­board box­es in Avishay’s liv­ing room: this is the ghet­to, that’s the SS com­mand. Then Avishay’s cat peed on the Gestapo, and they weren’t sure if they were allowed to laugh.” Read­ers of Yedlin’s nov­el might ask them­selves the same ques­tion: Am I allowed to laugh? This is what makes the humor in Stock­holm so enjoy­able — it is irrev­er­ent, and feels slight­ly dangerous.

An eight-day time­line serves as a pres­sure-cook­er for this joy­ous and bleak com­e­dy of errors. Yedlin has cre­at­ed a mov­ing and fun­ny nar­ra­tive about a group of friends, each full of regrets, desires, and inse­cu­ri­ties that are cast into sharp focus fol­low­ing the death of Avishay.

Omer Fried­lan­der was born in Jerusalem in 1994 and grew up in Tel Aviv. He is the author of the short sto­ry col­lec­tion The Man Who Sold Air in the Holy Land, win­ner of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries Fic­tion Award and a final­ist for the Wingate Prize. The book was cho­sen as an Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion Sophie Brody Medal Hon­or Book for out­stand­ing achieve­ment in Jew­ish Lit­er­a­ture and longlist­ed for the Sto­ry Prize. Omer has a BA in Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cam­bridge and an MFA from Boston Uni­ver­si­ty, where he was sup­port­ed by the Saul Bel­low Fel­low­ship. He was a Star­works Fel­low in Fic­tion at New York Uni­ver­si­ty. His col­lec­tion has been trans­lat­ed into sev­er­al lan­guages, includ­ing Turk­ish, Dutch, and Ital­ian. His writ­ing has been sup­port­ed by the Bread Loaf Fel­low­ship and Ver­mont Stu­dio Cen­ter Fel­low­ship. He cur­rent­ly lives in New York City and teach­es cre­ative writ­ing at Colum­bia University.

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