Book picks similar to
Judah the Pious by Francine Prose


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historical-fiction
judaica
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Air & Fire


Rupert Thomson - 1993
    The Indians are indifferent to Western notions of time and industry. The French, on the other hand, are sufficiently meticulous to import 2,348 pieces of cast iron to the desolate mining town of Santa Sofia, there to be assembled into a church under the supervision of a disciple of the renowned Gustave Eiffel.

Ella Price's Journal


Dorothy Bryant - 1997
    Ella’s growing consciousness begins to shake the foundations of her life, and she comes to the realization that she is irrevocably changed—and that to be true to herself, she must make painful choices.First published in 1972, Ella Price's Journal is a deeply authentic literary rendering of a woman’s struggle to give voice to what Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique called “the problem that has no name,” and a novel that affirms the possibility of growth toward a richly intense and authentic life at any age.

River Angel


A. Manette Ansay - 1998
    Somehow they ended up at the river, whooping and hollering on a two-lane bridge. Somehow the boy was shoved, he jumped, he slipped—acounts vary—into the icy water. The kids told police they never heard a splash; one reported seeing a brilliant flash of light. (Several people in the area witnessed a similar light, while others recalled hearing something "kind of like thunder.") All night, volunteers walked the river's edge, but it was dawn before the body was found in a barn a good mile from the bridge . . .The owner of the barn had been the one to discover the body, and she said the boy's cheeks were rosy, his skin warm to the touch. A sweet smell hung in the air. "It was," she said, "as if he were just sleeping." And then she told police she believed an angel had carried him there.For years, it had been said that an angel lived in the river. Residents flipped coins into the water for luck, and a few claimed they had seen the angel, or known someone who'd seen it. The historical society downtown had a farmwife's journal, dated 1898, in which a woman described how an angel had rescued her family from a flood. Now, as the story of the boy's death spread, more people came forward with accounts of strange things that had happened on that night. Dogs had barked without ceasing till dawn; livestock broke free of padlocked barns. Someone's child crayoned a bridge and, above it, a wide-winged tapioca angel.A miracle? A hoax? Or something in between? With acute insight and great compassion, A. Manette Ansay captures the inner life of a town and its residents struggling to forge a new identity in the face of a rapidly changing world.

Little Bastards In Springtime


Katja Rudolph - 2014
    Jevrem Andric is eleven years old, and brutal civil war is erupting in Sarajevo. At first it's just boring, as kids shut in apartments run out of ways to entertain themselves. A few weeks later, boredom is a luxury. Hell has arrived. They are trapped and face starvation and death. Jevrem's only comfort is his beloved grandmother, a tough World War II partisan who has seen everything there is to see in war. Five years later, what's left of his family has immigrated to Toronto, where spring feels like mid-winter, his grandmother is broken and ill, and sixteen-year-old Jevrem is on a rampage, drinking, doing drugs and breaking into houses with his small gang of Yugoslav friends.When his grandmother dies, he faces a moral reckoning that compels him to try, in his own warped way, to do some good in the world—the consequences be damned. Rudolph's voice is searing, tender and at times hallucinatory as she creates a brilliant portrait of a boy's fight for emotional survival and a family's attempt to find peace in a new land.

The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien


Oscar Hijuelos - 1993
    In a small Pennsylvania town, Nelson O'Brien runs the Jewel Box Movie Theater, raising 14 daughters and a son with his wife, Mariela Montez. Through the eyes of Margarita, the eldest daughter, the lives, loves and tragedies of the Montez O'Briens and their complex family relationships unfold. While reflecting on the life of Emilio, her doggedly masculine brother, Margarita also ruminates on the nature of femininity, family, sex, love and earthly happiness. Her musings recall exhilarating adventures, eliciting tears and laughter, and tenderly reveal the bounteous heart of a warm, passionate family. At once lush, erotic and gorgeously written, The Fourteen Sisters of Emilio Montez O'Brien is a masterwork by one of America's greatest writers.

The Accordionist's Son


Bernardo Atxaga - 2003
    With affection and lucidity, Bernardo Atxaga describes the evolution of a young man caught between country and town, between his uncle the horse-breeder and his political father. The course of David's life changes one summer night when he agrees to shelter a group of students on the run from the military police.This is the most accomplished novel to date by an internationally celebrated writer. The Accordionist's Son is memorable for its epic scope—from 1936 to 1999—and the details with which it sparkles in gorgeous prose. It is easy to understand why The Observer listed Atxaga as one of the top twenty-one writers for the twenty-first century.

Blood Tie


Mary Lee Settle - 1979
    At first the characters appear to have little in common, but as the novel progresses their motives and desires cross and blend in a geometry of misunderstanding.

Everything Will Be All Right


Tessa Hadley - 2003
    Joyce watches the two sisters - her aunt's unbending dedication to the life of the mind, her mother worn down by housework - and thinks that each of them is powerless in her own way.For Joyce, art school provides an escape route, and there she falls in love with one of her teachers. When she marries and has children, she is determined to manage her relationship with a new freedom, and to save herself from the mistakes of the previous generation. But her daughter Zoe, growing up, comes to see Joyce as a bourgeois housewife, and when Zoe has a baby of her own, she demands more from motherhood...

The Waters of Kronos


Conrad Richter - 1960
    As was well known at the time, Richter had spent several years in the Southwest, where he collected the material for his first successful book, Early Americans and Other Stories, but by 1933, he had returned to live in his hometown, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania.John Donner, the main protagonist in The Waters of Kronos, traces a similar route from west to east, although he finds that his family home and native town have been submerged under the deep waters of a lake formed by the construction of a hydroelectric dam. As Richter narrates his alter ego's efforts to salvage his past, he moves beyond semi-autobiography to offer what are widely recognized as his most haunting reflections upon the power of family history, the fragility of human memory, and art's role in structuring the communal ethos. David McCullough, a fellow Pulitzer Prize winner, met and befriended Richter in the 1960s and has called him an American master, praising The Waters of Kronos as his most beautiful book.

The Last of the Vikings


Johan Bojer - 1921
    Its action centers upon a single fishing season, when the Norwegian peasantry, descendants of the Vikings, make their annual voyage to the islands.

Noble Norfleet


Reynolds Price - 2002
     A few days before Noble Norfleet's eighteenth birthday, his family suffers a violent catastrophe. The sole survivor, Noble throws himself into a reckless affair with his Spanish teacher, whose husband is fighting in Vietnam. When Noble graduates, he enlists as well and, while serving as an army medic, experiences a mysterious vision that seems tied to uncanny events in his recent past. Not until thirty years later -- after a life short on friends and troubled by a compulsion to worship women's bodies -- is Noble challenged to rethink the decades-old mystery of his family tragedy. Faced with an ominous choice, Noble finally comes to accept an enormous duty he's long tried to ignore. Soon, perhaps for the first time, his future seems hopeful.

Desertion


Abdulrazak Gurnah - 2005
    Pearce and Rehana begin a passionate illicit love affair, which resonates fifty years later when the narrator’s brother falls madly in love with Rehana’s granddaughter. In the story of two forbidden love affairs and their effects on the lovers’ families, Abdulrazak Gurnah brilliantly dramatizes the personal and political consequences of colonialism, the vicissitudes of love, and the power of fiction.

Mortal Friends


James Carroll - 1978
    James Carroll is the author of five novels and two acclaimed works of nonfiction, including the National Book Award-winning An American Requiem.

Esau


Meir Shalev - 1969
    Patriarch Abraham Levy, the proud descendant of fifteen generations of Sephardic Jews, and his wife, the convert Sarah, a monumental, generous woman, illiterate and complex, establish themselves in a village to the west of Jerusalem and become the center of a sprawling, colorful family whose passions, suffering, and unexpected fates partake of both the real and the mythic, not to mention the miraculous. Esau's eponymous narrator is one of a pair of near-sighted Levy twins, who have only a single set of eyeglasses between them. The life choice each boy makes as a result of this childhood experience determines the course of the novel: Jacob, who wears the eyeglasses most of the time, follows his father and becomes the village baker, marrying Leah, fathering children, and shouldering the responsibility of ancestral tradition; while the narrator, with his willfully blurred vision, is cursed and disinherited by his beloved mother and leaves his family and village to become a writer in the United States. After thirty years of exile, he returns home and offers us the brilliant and deeply moving mosaic that is the story of the Levy family. Like his progenitor, Meir Shalev, the narrator finds his portion of the world in books, and the two of them share a Rabelaisian appetite for story and character, an exuberant playfulness, a mischievous sense of irony, and a fascination with the sensuality of childhood, those images, sounds, and odors at the origin of all memory and roots.

Galveston


Paul Quarrington - 2004
    Visitors usually wash up there by accident, rather than by design. But this weekend, three people will fly to the island deliberately. They are not coming for a tan or fun in the sun. They are coming because Dampier Cay is where it is, and they have reason to believe that they might encounter something there that most people take great measures to avoid -- a hurricane.A lottery windfall and a few hours of selfishness have robbed Caldwell of all that was precious to him, while Beverly, haunted by tragedy and screwed by fate since birth, has given up on life. Also on the flight is Jimmy Newton, a professional storm chaser and videographer who will do anything for the perfect shot. Waiting for them at Dampier is the manager of the Water’s Edge Hotel, “Bonefish” Maywell Hope, who arrived at Dampier by the purest accident of all -- the accident of birth. A descendent of the pirates who sailed the Caribbean hundreds of years ago, Hope believes if he works hard enough, he can prevent the inevitable. Until, that is, the seas begin to rise . . . Cinematic and harrowing, spiced with Quarrington’s trademark humour, Galveston shows just how far people will go to feel alive.From the Hardcover edition.