March 10, 2017
Les Do Books
Salem West Talks Jewish Lesbian Fiction
Listen as Tara talks to author, reviewer and Bywater Books publisher Salem West. Salem comes prepared with her reader hat on and shares about three books by Jewish lesbian authors that are not to be missed.
Check out the books discussed here:
Learn more about Salem West
Come talk to us about these books and any other lesfic you’ve been reading lately at our Facebook group, The Lesbian Review Book Club.
You can see all of our reviews, top 10 lists and author profiles on TheLesbianReview.com and don’t forget to send your emails, questions and more to Tara@TheLesbianReview.com
Beyond the Pale
Set in Russia and New York during the early twentieth century, Beyond the Pale follows the lives of two women born in a Russian-Jewish settlement who immigrate to New York’s Lower East Side. Gutke Gurvich is a midwife who travels to America with her partner, a woman passing as a man. Their story crosses with that of Chava Meyer, a girl who was attended by Gutke at her birth and was later orphaned during the Kishinev pogrom of 1903. Chava immigrates with the family of her cousin Rose, and the two girls begin working at fourteen as they live through the oppression and tragedies of their time. They grow to become lovers, which leads them to search for a community they can truly call their own.
Touching on the hallmarks of the Progressive Era—the Women’s Trade Union League, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, anarchist and socialist movements, women’s suffrage, anti-Semitism—Dykewomon’s Beyond the Pale is a richly detailed and moving story, offering a glimpse into a world that is often overlooked.
The Escape Artist
Sofia, a nice Jewish girl from Poland, is lured away from home by Tutsik Goldenberg, a wealthy traveling businessman who claims to be a lonely Argentine diamond merchant in search of a wife. Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, Tutsik dumps Sofia at his sister’s brothel.
Hankus, also a nice Jewish girl from Poland, is passing as a man. Having escaped the pogroms of Poland that killed her family, she lives her life as a handsome and mysterious magician and escape artist.
When Tutsik spots the talented juggler and acrobat Hankus he envisions success as his manager, seeing Hankus as the means to get out from under his sister’s thumb.
Sofia and Hankus fall in love and their attempts to walk the tightrope of love, freedom, and independence are quickly put to the test.
Sex, deception, magic, and love are the main ingredients of this tour de force novel by Lambda Literary Award winner Judith Katz. In The Escape Artist, Katz reveals that all human interactions consist of love and hate, deception and candor, altruism and self-interest. This is as true in our lives today as it was in an immigrant community at the turn of the last century.
I Came Out for This
There’s only one place Joanna Kane can tell it like it is. Her journal:
I hate Terri Rubin, the woman I’m in love with. She called and told me she’s dating a woman named Sonya. I hate this Sonya and I hate Terri and I hate myself because I was never like this in my life. Do you know what it’s like to come out when you’re in your forties, having menopausal symptoms, for God’s sake, and then fall madly in love with someone? All of a sudden you’re in adolescencefor the first time. You don’t even recognize yourself. My whole adult life I was this cool, collected writer, strutting around in jeans and leather jacket, advising friends and siblings about their relationships, being a devoted daughter and a responsible professional person and a good citizen, and then one day I woke up and realized I was gay, and then this sassy woman walked into my life and I fell in love at first sight, after spending my life thinking that never really happened and only watching West Side Story because of the gangs. And now I’ve become the kind of person I used to make fun of, who becomes hysterical because her beloved tells her she’s dating some woman named Sonya who has an apothecary store in Bethesda, Maryland.
I’m sick of being in this endless rut, I’m sick of Cleveland, and I’m thinking of moving to Washington, DC to be with Terri Rubin who I hate.