Safe in America

Marcie Hershman, Author
Marcie Hershman, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (285p) ISBN 978-0-06-017144-5
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-06-092734-9
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Hershman's second novel (after Tales of the Master Race) is a penetrating study of loss, and of how a family can meet grief with resilience or evade it with reticence. Evan and Vera Eichenbaum, Jewish immigrants who left the Hungarian region of Czechoslovakia in the 1920s, are owners of a Cleveland clothing store. Opening with Evan's heart attack in 1967, the narrative flashes back to 1935-1943, when the Eichenbaums changed from a safe-in-America family of five to a pain-filled unit of four. Hapless in the face of separations caused by world events, Evan and Vera fail to cut through the red tape that keeps family members in Europe lingering on quota lists until it's too late. They save their second son from the draft, but he ultimately inherits his mother's fatalism and her evasions of tragedy through whispers; years later, in 1993, he cannot face his nephew's death from AIDS. Through three generations, siblings lose siblings--to the Nazi camps, to combat, to disease. No shore is safe from cataclysm. Despite the heavily drawn parallels between the Holocaust and the AIDS epidemic, this is an intimate, unsparing and psychologically profound portrait of a Jewish family in crisis. Author tour; translation, first serial, dramatic rights: Ellen Levine Agency.
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