Book Review: The Big Kahn

The Big Kahn (2009)
Written by Neil Kleid and Nicolas Cinquegrani
176 pages

For forty years Rabbi David Kahn served as the leader of his community, helping all who needed him. When the Rabbi’s estranged older brother crashes his funeral, he lets everyone know Rabbi Kahn’s biggest secret: he isn’t Jewish and his name isn’t David Kahn. After this lie is exposed, the lives of the rabbi’s family is forever changed from Avi, the oldest son who’s supposed to walk in his father’s shoes, Rachel the widow, Eli the youngest Kahn who becomes the target of bullies and Lea the rebellious daughter¬† who’s tries to find a new balance with the religion her father taught her.

I really loved the idea of this story: a con man who lives for most of his life because he fell in love. What I didn’t like was the execution. The characters were two dimensional. I never understood why Roy Dobbs, the estranged brother, decided to tell Kahn’s secret. Once the younger brother decided to keep the con up and start a serious relationship with Rachel, all communication between the two brothers ceased. The motives of Dobbs and most of the Kahn family left me guessing until the end. I wanted to know why was Lea so rebellious as an adult and why the rabbi decided to leave his youngest son a book on being a trickster and cards. I understood that the oldest Kahn son, Avi, wanted to be this great and perfect person but I wanted to know more about what drove him to that besides following his father.¬† I loved the ending which involved Avi. It really put a smile on my face.

The one character I really enjoyed was the widow Rachel. Readers see Rachel as a woman who’s grieving and having to deal with being the target of gossip. I loved the scene when she’s in the grocery store and the neighborhood women are checking to see if Rachel is still buying only kosher food. You feel the loneliness and hurt.

The artwork by Cinquegrani was simple and went perfectly with the story. It didn’t distract and helped to move the story along. You can see some of the artwork here.

Overall this is a good but not great book. I wish the story was more meaty.

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: The Big Kahn

  1. It makes me sad when such a good premise somehow falls flat. I like the play on words here (Though I always thought of Khan as a Muslim name. Maybe there is a very large difference between Khan and Kahn). I wish the characters came to life more, though. I wonder if there is another book like this that succeeds with the premise? If so, I hope you are able to find it and enjoy it!

    PS- I know I am slow, but I just noticed your new blog layout! LOVE the blue-greens in the background :-)

  2. What a great premise for a novel. Too bad it didn’t deliver a great book to go with that premise. But it still sounds intriguing.

  3. Vivienne: I know! In the book it takes a little about how the rabbi had to learn everything he didn’t know but not enough.

    Aarti: I thought the play on words was really nice too.I’m hope I’m able to find a book that has a similar premise too. That would be awesome. Thanks!

    Kathleen: It is such a great premise. If the book would have been longer, I would have loved it.

  4. Sorry this wasn’t as good as it could have been :( My library actually has this on order and I will probably check it out, I enjoy graphic novels that stray from the supernatural/comic/hero genre. I like to support the comic format for novel-like stories.

  5. I assume this was based on a true story? Sounds like a fascinating story; it’s too bad the graphic novel didn’t quite meet all your expectations!

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