Dropped from Heaven

Sophie Judah, Author . Schocken $23 (243p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4248-5

The 19 stories in Judah's debut explore the little known Jewish community of Bene Israel in India over the course of more than a century. Though Judah touches on a wide array of topics in these vignette-like stories of life in the fictional town of Jwalangar—the fusion of Jewish and Indian (both Hindi and Muslim) customs, the India-Pakistan partition, the birth of Israel—the most prevalent theme is the underappreciated strength and wisdom of the community's women. In "Hannah and Benjamin," Hannah's parents refuse to allow her to marry a man from a lower class, but they eventually relent when she protests by remaining in her bedroom for a year. Bride-to-be Sunita in "Dreams" wants a life of more than domestic servitude. The pieces that finish tragically, such as "Monsoon" and "The Horoscope Never Lies," are the most memorable of the collection because Judah cracks open human weakness and depicts the resulting pain. But most stories are less successful and suffer from explanatory prose and clunky dialogue. The obscure intersection of India and Judaism provides Judah with rich material, though the finished products aren't always polished. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 03/01/2007
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-0-307-49494-8
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