Edges is set in a pre-1967 Israel, during the Cold
War. Liana Bialik is fourteen years old when the suicide of her American father
forces her family to return to her mother's native Jerusalem. A chance meeting
with a runaway American diplomat's son in the forest draws Liana into an odyssey
of borders, loss, and love. After witnessing the accidental death of a young
Arab boy caught in a crossfire between snipers, Liana is impelled to confront
her conflicts about identity and culpability. She must choose between following
the paths of darkness that have kept her bound to her grieving and engulfing
mother and her own sexual self-discovery . Characters are drawn from Israel's
long-forgotten past, members of the 1940's Haganah and Jewish underground who
find themselves displaced amidst the chaotic and complex tensions of an Israel
just beginning to modernize and expand. Liana learns about her mother's
childhood in the ancient city, and her past in the wars. Places and dates
eventually yield to timeless truths as she is able to use this heritage as her
own mystical starting point.
Nominee for PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, 2006
A 'Virginia Festival of The Book' Selection, 2006.
May 2009: Hamilton Stone Editions, Ltd. will be publishing an expanded version of Edges as The Fragile Mistress - a movie movie tie-in version for the feature film now in development with Triboro Pictures, and currently part of the Cannes Film Festival's Producer's Development Lab.
Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo King Sings Songs of Love Edges is an elegantly written, quite moving novel that has a lot to say
about love, identity, history and the meaning of nationality. The book is worth
reading alone for its superb language, but it is gripping and unforgettable as
well in its story telling and evocation of place and emotions. It is a wonderful
novel by an author with a quite accomplished voice and style, one well deserving
a wide and receptive audience.
Caroline Leavitt, author of Girls in Trouble and Coming Back to Me
Where, and how and to whom do we really belong? Skolkin's brilliant debut novel is a hypnotic meditation on the ever-changing boundaries of love and need. A coming of age story of the bond between a young American and her powerful mother, etched in a wartime Mideast as shifting and dangerous and
mysterious as the Israeli desert.
Philip Graham, Director, Creative Writing Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Edges takes the reader to an Israel before the high walls formed a border, when instead metal wires hung like "hosiery lines" across the land...Here, Skolkin-Smith's young heroine tries to shake off her father's suicide and her mother's mourning by making an escape with the missing son of an American diplomat...Skolkin-Smith, in clear, burnished prose, fuses personal and political rifts into an exhilarating debut novel.
Katharine Weber, author of The Little Women and The Music Lesson Edges is an elegant and moving novel. Leora Skolkin-Smith has
that rare gift of the writer who can convey the sensibility - the essence of a
place and its people - with precision and clarity. A provocative debut.
Mark Mirsky, writer and founder of Fiction Magazine, and Professor of English at City College of New York.
In Edges Leora Skolkin-Smith skillfully tells the story of a girl of fourteen in the wake of her father's suicide, brought abruptly by her distraught mother from a comfortable suburban Westchester to the harsh terrain of a young State of Israel. The girl is caught in the maelstrom of political claims between Israel and a West Bank, still part of the Kingdom of Jordan. The turmoil both of the girl and her mother is graphically detailed as they struggle to define themselves in the light of a haunted past and present. The poetry of the girl's sexual awakening ripples through many pages, softening the fierce realities of the conflict between Arab and Jew. The pages evoke as well the memories of a shared land, and the mother's childhood growing up in an old Jerusalem before the city was separated by physical barriers, the religious, cultural, divide between Arab and Jew easier to bridge. The author's vivid sense of landscape, her gift for identifying with both mother and daughter, Arab and Jew, gives the novel a unique sense of balance and brings the reader, regardless of political conviction into sympathy with this portrait of a vanished Jerusalem. Edges is a powerful evocation of lost worlds which it is a joy to wander back into.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Shelley Hunt unique and riveting It took me only a few days to read Edges,this book blew me away. It is hypnotic, frightening--the feeling of danger never let up, not for a second. It is beautiful, visceral--I think of it and smell oranges and desert (I grew up in a desert), and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Jamie Callan Compelling and quite beautifully written debut novel I enjoyed Leora Skolkin-Smith's powerful debut novel "Edges" very much. It's a deeply felt and authentic book written in lyrical and compelling language, telling a universal story about mothers and daughters. The geography of Israel is especially... Read More
A tale about a beautiful woman - an anonymous victim of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem - whose luminous smile, graceful neck and bright eyes are so beguiling that even in death she can lead a man to fall in love with her.
The year is 1949 and Nora, a prickly, strong-willed survivor of the Holocaust, has just walked off the boat in Israel with her German daughter-in-law, Louisa. Superb...a seamless interweaving of observation, memory, and imagination...A mature and absorbing story...
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