Book Club 1/21/2018

Please note the new date:

We will meet Sunday, January 21, to discuss Cynthia Ozick’s Heir to the Glimmering World. Cynthia Ozick is the author of numerous acclaimed works of fiction and nonfiction. She is a recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Man Booker International Prize. Her stories have won four O. Henry first prizes.

About the book:
Heir is a character-driven novel set in 1933, when the Mitwissers, a family of German Jews, arrive in America after a narrow and eccentric escape from Berlin. (Forced to hide for a week before they could flee, they circled the city in a rented limousine, wearing their finest clothes and assuming a regal air at hotels where they slipped in to use the bathroom.) After landing somewhat haphazardly in New York, they place an ad for help in a local paper. The only applicant for the job is an eighteen-year-old orphan, Rose Meadows, who narrates the story, and who observes the Mitwissers with the dry neutrality of an invisible servant. Ozick portrays this ramshackle household to dazzling effect, as it adjusts to its many states of exile—from a sense of security, from cherished ideas, and from the consolations of each other.

After that we’ll read Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink (date TBD in February). This is Kadish’s third novel, and her stories have also been published and won awards.

About the book:
Set in London of the 1660s and in the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history. As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of an American graduate student, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.” Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices women must make in order to reconcile the life of the heart and mind.

Rebecca Egolf