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Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan Summary and Reviews

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan

by Ruth Gilligan

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan X
Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2017
    400 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Three intertwining voices span the twentieth century to tell the unknown story of the Jews in Ireland. A heartbreaking portrait of what it means to belong, and how storytelling can redeem us all.

At the start of the twentieth century, a young girl and her family emigrate from Lithuania in search of a better life in America, only to land on the Emerald Isle instead. In 1958, a mute Jewish boy locked away in a mental institution outside of Dublin forms an unlikely friendship with a man consumed by the story of the love he lost nearly two decades earlier. And in present-day London, an Irish journalist is forced to confront her conflicting notions of identity and family when her Jewish boyfriend asks her to make a true leap of faith.

These three arcs, which span generations and intertwine in revelatory ways, come together to tell the haunting story of Ireland's all-but-forgotten Jewish community. Ruth Gilligan's beautiful and heartbreaking Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan explores the question of just how far we will go to understand who we really are, and to feel at home in the world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"I really wanted to like this book but found the heavy use of Irish and Yiddish slang words to be pretentious – I mean, if your story doesn't sound Irish or Jewish enough so that you have to throw these in at every turn, then maybe you've not chosen the right subject matter. But the final death knell for me was that she broke my #1 cardinal rule about writing Jewish characters - a glaring mistake on a simple point of Judaism. I am willing to forgive a whole lot, but when someone describes a strict Jewish household having lamb with a side dish of potatoes, dripping with butter in the same meal (i.e., she mixed milk and meat, and it is the most basic of all things that Jewish dietary laws forbid), that's a bridge too far. No one who goes to the amount of trouble she describes in this book to get their house Kosher and ready for Passover, would ever in their right mind put butter on potatoes for a meat meal." - Davida Chazan

Other Reviews
"Starred Review. Gilligan makes a stellar U.S. debut with this wistful and lyrical multigenerational tale." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. All three stories - more intertwined than any of the participants know - are gripping, nuanced, and clever, occupying a rich and hazy space between realism and metaphor." - Kirkus

"Slow to come together at first, her deft interweaving of three families' histories across the 20th century is replete with folk tales, jokes, and memories." - Library Journal

"A wonderful new novel from a writer to look out for." - Colum McCann

"I haven't read anything like it, and I was delighted to meet with their voices: voices that are so real - sometimes funny, sometimes frustrating, sometimes devastated - and that linger in the little streets imagined by the novel long after the story has been told." - Belinda McKeon, author of Tender

"I loved this beautifully written and elegantly managed novel and was sorry when it ended." - Joseph O'Connor, author of The Thrill of it All

This information about Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Cheryl

9 Folds Makes a Paper Swan
Did not capture my interest, even though my grandparents are immigrants.

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Author Information

Ruth Gilligan Author Biography

Photo: Paul Musso / Hay Festival 2019

Ruth Gilligan is a graduate of Cambridge and Yale, and now works as a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. She contributes regular literary reviews to the Guardian, Los Angeles Review of Books, Irish Independent, and the Times Literary Supplement.

Link to Ruth Gilligan's Website

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