The Gift of Asher Lev // Chaim Potak.


The Gift of Asher Lev is a fitting sequel to My Name is Asher Lev.

Nearly 20 years after My Name, Asher Lev, exiled Hasid artist, thrives in France. His name is among contemporary greats, listed with Picasso and Jacob Kahn. He is married to Devorah and has two beautiful kids, Rochelah and Avrumel. His exile is home. But two events in sharp succession throw Asher into Ambiguity: vicious criticism of his most recent exhibition and the death of his beloved Uncle Yitzchok. In one swoop, his critics — especially the good ones — struck down Asher: “He is repeating himself.” An artist entrapped in a loop is an artist in Ambiguity: he is repeating himself because he cannot see clearly. If My Name is about Asher’s undeniable gifted perception, The Gift is about its curse and burden.

Asher and his family fly to Brooklyn for the ritual mourning: a mixed array of emotions with ironic results. The death of Uncle Yitzchok pulled Devorah out of her grave and connected grandparents with grandkids. The family that Asher’s parents had and lost is now found after mourning. A family in exile is now in a community of a people — except for Asher. He is the original exile — exiled because of his gift.

The Gift is a riddle. But it is Asher’s wrestling with riddles, truths in ambiguous forms, that pulls him out of Ambiguity. He sees clearly once he reckons that he cannot see clearly. And what he sees is not always satisfying. Sometimes, seeing with clarity is more painful than seeing with Ambiguity. The gift of The Gift is to see the pain; the curse of The Gift is to see that pain; and the burden of The Gift is to live with that pain.