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I am the Clay Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jun 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bravo Ltd; Reprint edition (1 Jun. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449221385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449221389
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 1.7 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 775,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Potok writes powerfully about the suffering of innocent people caught in the cross-fire of a war they cannot begin to understand....Humanity and compassion for his characters leap from every page. --San Francisco Chronicle

From the Inside Flap

"Potok writes powerfully about the suffering of innocent people caught in the cross-fire of a war they cannot begin to understand....Humanity and compassion for his characters leap from every page."
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
As the Chinese and the army of the North sweep south during the Korean War, an old peasant farmer and his wife flee their village across the bleak, bombed-out landscape. They soon come upon a boy in a ditch who is wounded and unconscious. Stirred by possessiveness and caring the woman refuses to leave the boy behind. The man thinks she is crazy to nurse this boy, to risk their lives for some dying stranger. Angry and bewildered, he waits for the boy to die. And when the boy does not die, the old man begins to believe that the boy possesss a magic upon which all their lives depend....

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Top Customer Reviews

By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Feb. 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As the Chinese invade South Korea from the North and the civilian population evacuates ahead of the advancing forces, "I Am the Clay" follows one elderly couple. This childless couple stumbles across a wounded and unconscious eleven year old boy in a ditch, and much to the old man's disapproval the old woman takes the boy along with them. The story follows their harrowing escape from the invaders and the hardships and horrors of their journey, including the often at best indifferent treatment at the hands of their own defending soldiers.

It is a very moving story told in a unique prose style which keeps the reader on his toes as the thoughts of the three characters are often interwoven in the same sentences. It is very much narrative drive, with minimal dialogue certainly until towards the end, and even then there is not a lot; but through the narrative we learn the thinking and motives of the characters. The old woman, caring and very much taken with the boy; the old man torn between his fear of what the boy will cost them and the good fortune he seems to bring them; and the boy, dependant, trusting yet intelligent and resourceful, a boy with integrity. It is also through the thoughts and dreams of the characters that we learn much of their individual and very different backgrounds.

A compelling and beautifully told story, very different in style from some of Chaim Potok's novels, with three very different yet appealing characters, even the seemingly bitter old man has his redeeming points. The horror and futility of war inevitably come across, indirectly for there is no propaganda here, no hidden agenda. My only reservation is that the conclusion seems somewhat abrupt; and I would really like to know the eventual prospects for the young boy especially. It is a very good story, but perhaps not quite as good as "The Chosen" and its sequel, or the Asher Lev books.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is such a different topic to his other 'Jewish' writing. A must for all Potok fans
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
great book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8bf43c30) out of 5 stars 39 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bab8e34) out of 5 stars Potok is the potter 15 July 2004
By William A. Sowka Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow. I just finished this book. I've read many of Chaim Potok books and have enjoyed each one so much that I keep picking up another one. He is such a great storyteller. I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about this one. Most of his books center on Judaism and this one seemed so different than his other writings. I wondered how he would manage a different culture. However, what I have learned is that certain themes are universal to humanity. Heroism in the face of extreme conditions is a theme that certainly holds true in the Judaic experience and in this book on the Korean War experience. Heroism to me is the ability to remain human and loving even under the most stressful and dire of conditions. The heroism of the characters in this book is so moving and heart warming. It is classic Potok. He leaves you thinking about the characters and their future long after reading his books.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b77de10) out of 5 stars Refugees acting as The Good Samaritan 5 May 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you ever wondered how refugees find the strength -- emotion, physical, spiritual -- to live through wars and insurrections on their homeland -- this fictional book explores the true horrors of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. The characters are touching and realistic. Potok investigates the human soul to explore hate vs. love, cruelty vs. kindness, etc. Read "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck as well.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b77d354) out of 5 stars review of Chaim Potok's "I am the Clay" 31 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I first started reading this book, I assumed that it would be boring, and redunant, and hard to understand. That all changed after I got into the book, and I found myself attached to the young eleven year old boy, who is orphaned by war. "I am the Clay" is an intimate and touching novel about the cruelties of the Korean war, and how it affected the little people, the citizens of Korea. I think that it should be read by all people to better understand a different point of view on the wars. I trust I will never forget the images of survival and suffering put into my head, and am confident that I have gained a better knowledge of war.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b87e9f8) out of 5 stars I am the Clay by Chaim Potok 14 Dec. 2004
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Book Review

I felt that I am the Clay by Chaim Potok, is a very emotional story that also puts emphasis on the relationships the characters develop. These relationships help the reader to understand the way people treated one another and what is important to their Asian culture. This book also gives you a feel of what it would be like to live during the war and how hard it must have been to pack only the necessities and leave your home. Not only did they have to worry about their survival but also what condition the house would be in if they returned. Would they have to build a new life from scratch for themselves and how many of they're neighbors and friends made it through this horrible ordeal? These are the questions they had to ask themselves everyday while they suffered from the cold and hunger. Chaim Potok really gives a descriptive view of the life they led and the hardships they had to succumb in order to survive.

What I found very odd about how Chaim Potok wrote the book was how he named Kim Sin Gyu, but only referred to the couple that took care of him as the "old man and woman." I would like to know his reason for doing this and how it enhanced the book. Another style of his I picked up on was how he tended to have a lot of long sentences when the boy spoke and how he tended to ramble on a bit about things that is not completely relevant. So I would recommend this book for those who have some past knowledge in history and war, or it may be a little hard to follow. However the author's vivid description of their hardships and struggles really made the book come to life.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bc89e94) out of 5 stars Good, but not potok's best 19 July 2006
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
'I am the Clay' is a refreshing change to Potok's readers from an intimate view of Jewish family life to an intimate portrayal of innocent people caught in war.

Set in South Korea during the Korean war of the mid 1950's, I am the Clay is centered around the journey of two elderly South Korean peasants as they struggle to save a young orphaned boy they found in a ditch, and travel north (a poor choice during the war).

The book, as with most of Chaim Potok's, is very well-written and detailed.

However, I am the Clay lacks the intimacy od Potok's other celebrated works due to the fact that Potok, despite having served for two years as a Chaplain in South Korea and Japan, is largely ignorant about Korean culture. I am the Clay has two peasants who believe animals to be spirits, and a little boy to be a magical charm. Although the characters are intended to be simple-minded, it is not a part of Korean culture to believe animals to be spirits, and human beings are not regarded as lucky charms.

for this, I am the clay is certianly one of Chaim Potok's less imporessive novels. However, he does deserve three stars for experimenting with themes outside of Orthodox Judaism.
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