Review: The Elected Member – Bernice Rubens (1970 ‘Lost’ Booker prize winner)

Before I get started on reviewing the book, I started out on this book expecting something different… I work in local government, so to me an elected member is a councillor – which isn’t what this book is about! But in tribute to my area of work my picture for this post is of the book in our council chamber, and to support the local government library cause here’s an article on the importance of libraries (one of which I borrow this book from!).

The Elected Member

Anyway, time for the real review…

‘The Elected Member’ centres around the Zweck family, namely Rabbi Zweck a first  generation Jewish immigrant, and his adult children Norman and Bella.

Norman, a highly intelligent barrister, is living at home following a break down in which he has started hallucinating and seeing silverfish everywhere.

The story follows the family’s battle with Normans illness and his admittance into a psychiatric hospital. As the book progresses we learn more about each member of the family and their relationship with Norman which gives any number of possible reasons for Normans state of mind.

Although it seems perverse the book is funny in a dry way, in the way that in some situations you find yourself in you have to laugh, because if you didn’t you’d cry.

I found this book easy to read, something which definitely hasn’t been the case for some of the other winners I’ve read so far in this challenge, as a result I read it all in about a week of bus journeys to and from work.


Some quotes from the book…

A patient in the psychiatric hospital

” ‘Listen,’ he whispered. ‘I wouldn’t admit this to anyone else , but I think both of us might be lunatics. I mean everyone says the place is clean, and you and me can see with our own eyes it’s bloody filthy’ “

On family relationships…

“His heart was bursting with his long-hoarded love, yet he we as looking at a complete stranger”

“It was all he had to live for, and he loved it now with a love that was killing him”


Format read on: paperback borrowed from Kingston libraries reserve stock.

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