* Finalist in Gival Press’ 2015 novel competition under its working title, The Trial of Leopold Plotkin
Something Is Rotten in Fettig: ($20, 268pp, 6X9″, Print ISBN: 978-1-68114-197-8, EBook ISBN: 978-1-68114-198-5; LCCN: 2015949531, February 2016; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble; $8.99 Kindle or Google Books editions): Told in a wry, understated voice, the novel satirizes the travails of Leopold Plotkin, a failing kosher butcher with a pathological aversion to conflict. After Plotkin commits an act that ignites a crisis in his Republic, he is propelled into conflicts with every branch of government. When he refuses the government’s demands to undo what he did, he is indicted by a Secret Blind Jury, arrested by the National Constabulary, and consigned to the notorious Purgatory House of Detention, where he languishes next to a defrocked insane lawyer whose nocturnal machinations threaten to drive him crazy. After months of languishing in prison, Plotkin is prosecuted by the Republic’s ethically-challenged Prosecutor General, tried before a congenitally pro-prosecution judge, and defended by a reclusive lawyer who has never been in a courtroom. The butcher’s only witness in the highly anticipated trial is an unhinged resident of the Warehouse for the Purportedly Insane. Everybody, including Plotkin and his small circle of supporters, expects a conviction and imposition of the longest sentence allowed by law, if not longer.
Among other things, the novel lampoons prosecutors, public defenders, judges, juries, expert witnesses, high courts, low courts, trials, and potential perjurers.
“Plotkin expects the worst, but there are surprises. Readers will enjoy this humorous trip through absurdity. The author has drawn caricatures of some of the characters to enhance the story. He also provides a list of characters at the beginning to help readers keep track of the large cast. The story is especially relevant given the current challenges to civil rights. The author’s gift for satire and his well-defined characters demonstrate ‘Tzedek, tzedek tirdof.’ This is an excellent choice for book clubs and anyone who enjoys stories in the tradition of Shalom Aleichem.” –Association of Jewish Libraries: Reviews, September/ October 2016, Volume XI, No. 3, Reviews of Literature Titles for Adults; Barbara M. Bibel, Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA: http://jewishlibraries.org/content.php?page=AJL_News___AJL_Reviews.
“…The uproarious novel is first and foremost a comedy, rife with absurdist humor…[e]nough jabs at law and criminal justice to make a point, all packaged in a courtroom drama that’s pure entertainment.” —Kirkus Reviews
“4/5*: You’re moving along at steady clip, completely immersed in Plotkin’s unwitting journey towards public damnation, and properly outraged by the irrational and illogical flavor of the evidence that’s stacked against him. Delightfully satirical, the author takes a jab at everything from judges, to juries, to lawyers, to public manipulation and ignorance, oftentimes with hilarious results.” —Manhattan Book Review, “Humor,” Heather Clawson
“Oh, my. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed Something Is Rotten in Fettig. It’s glorious, it really is. It’s surreal and high-spirited and such good fun to read. But more than that, it’s also so detailed. This is a satire of the American legal system and it lampoons every stereotype from hang ’em high judges to desperate-to-convict juries via bail prisons and dramatic opening and closing speeches. Being British, I may have missed a target or two but even if I have, there was something to recognize and laugh at on every single page./ I loved the character names, which are Dickensian in their whimsicality. I loved the slapstick and the absurdism. I loved the speed of it all but also that the hectic pace still took care over the clever touches, such as the standard of proof beyond a nagging doubt and a trial’s opening speech becoming an opening rant. And I was rooting for sad, awkward little Leopold Plotkin with everything I had./ Something Is Rotten in Fettig is hilarious. Honestly, it is. It’s serious and its satire is, as all good satire should be, saying something important and timely about the US justice system. But lessons are best learned when there is laughter involved and this novel, with its flavours of Dickens, Heller and Woody Allen, provides a great deal of laughter.” –Bookbag (UK), Jill Murphy
“Imagine a courtroom drama written by Kafka, directed by Mel Brooks. Angst and hilarity abound with side dishes of neurosis and paranoia.” –Broad Street Review, Stacia Friedman, January 28, 2017
“It’s easy to imagine a former civil-rights attorney who’s worked extensively in the criminal-justice system writing a book inspired by the experience. But you might not foresee the result as this comic burlesque of a novel. It takes place in the fictional republic of Fettig, a setting that could pass for a circa-1900 Lower East Side. It’s populated by European ethnic types including protagonist Leonard Plotkin, a Jewish butcher who despite his ‘pathological aversion to conflict’ ends up facing trial on absurd criminal charges./ With its wide-angle aim at a deranged republic’s corrupt institutions, and its feel for a punchline, Something Is Rotten is hardly the earnest treatise you might expect from a lawyer whose résumé includes (as Pittsburgh resident Krakoff’s does) the ACLU National Prison Project and a local legal-aid program. Instead, the novel is sort of Dickens by way of Woody Allen, featuring characters with names like Emile Threadbare and Primo Astigmatopolous, and a writing style and approach to jokes that suggests Allen’s satirical short stories. (One artist character, for instance, is described as ‘an untalented abstractionist who occasionally sold her impenetrable works to customers who appreciated confusion.’) Each chapter begins with one of Krakoff’s own caricatures of this highly populous novel’s main character, all adding to the impression of a society where palms are greased and egos readily flattered, but justice is seldom served.” —Pittsburgh City Paper, “Reviews of the first 50 pages of recent works by local authors,” Bill O’Driscoll
“5/5*: Something Is Rotten in Fettig wittily satirizes a legal system that is very similar to our own…this fast-paced work is filled with good writing, presented in highly readable prose…characters are well developed…very enjoyable.” —Midwest Book Review: Molly’s Bookshelf; AuthorsDen
Edited by: Jordan Baker
Prior to writing Something Is Rotten in Fettig, Jere Krakoff was a civil rights attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project in Washington, D.C., the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Mississippi, and a legal aid program in Pittsburgh. The book was inspired by people, places, and events he encountered while litigating, and a lifetime of observing both the best and the worst of the human condition.
Krakoff’s Website: http://www.jerekrakoff.com