There are strange noises and a rotten smell coming from the attic of Solomon Kugel’s old farmhouse in upstate New York. His wife resents him, his kid is sickly and his mother, who grew up in the United States, imagines herself a Holocaust survivor with PTSD. Yet, Kugel remains an optimist, which his shrink declares is the problem: the more hell bent one is on life, the more terrified of death. Kugel is part Nathan Zuckerman, part early Woody Allen, and the entirely comic protagonist of Hope: a tragedy, a new novel by Shalom Auslander. Shalom is a regular contributor to This American Life and author of the international bestseller, Foreskin’s Lament.