Mourning the death of his wife after a senseless and tragic accident, Boston businessman Adam Friedman finds solace through living the mitzvoth--instructions for goodness, justice, and compassion. In a frenzy of good deeds, he saves lives and helps the needy. Even his adolescent daughter, whose grief is as intense as his own, begins to wonder if there isn't more than a shared joke to the superhero T-shirt she has designed for him.
When a thwarted crime and a supplicant's good fortune propel Friedman into the headlines, followers gather unbidden on his doorstep. Voices, dreams, and auras visit him. Miracles occur among family, friends, and strangers alike. But while some hail the Mitzvah Man as a modern-day prophet, others brand him a madman in danger of losing custody of his only child.
Is he crazy? Is he holy? Through his experiences of love and loss, beauty and pain, language and custom, Friedman's daily quest reveals the unexpected ways in which God may inhabit us all.
A fascinating, extremely well-crafted, important work . . . about middle-class, assimilated Jewish American life, and its real need for connections to a faith that has come to seem almost irrelevant. --Sanford Sternlicht, author of The Tenement Saga: The Lower East Side and Early Jewish American Writers
John J. Clayton, author of Wrestling with Angles: New and Collected Stories, Bodies for the Rich, Kuperman's Fire, The Man I Never Wanted To Be, and What Are Friends For?, has taught modern literature and fiction writing at the University of Massachusetts since 1969. His stories have appeared in O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. His collection Radiance won the Ohio State University Award in Short Fiction and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.