On Division: Book summary and reviews of On Division by Goldie Goldbloom

On Division

by Goldie Goldbloom

On Division by Goldie Goldbloom X
On Division by Goldie Goldbloom
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2019
    288 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Through one woman's life at a moment of surprising change, the award-winning author Goldie Goldbloom tells a deeply affecting, morally insightful story and offers a rare look inside Brooklyn's Chasidic community.

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just a block or two up from the East River on Division Avenue, Surie Eckstein is soon to be a great-grandmother. Her ten children range in age from thirteen to thirty-nine. Her in-laws, postwar immigrants from Romania, live on the first floor of their house. Her daughter Tzila Ruchel lives on the second. She and Yidel, a scribe in such demand that he makes only a few Torah scrolls a year, live on the third. Wed when Surie was sixteen, they have a happy marriage and a full life, and, at the ages of fifty-seven and sixty-two, they are looking forward to some quiet time together.

Into this life of counted blessings comes a surprise. Surie is pregnant. Pregnant at fifty-seven. It is a shock. And at her age, at this stage, it is an aberration, a shift in the proper order of things, and a public display of private life. She feels exposed, ashamed. She is unable to share the news, even with her husband. And so for the first time in her life, she has a secret―a secret that slowly separates her from the community.

Goldie Goldbloom's On Division is an excavation of one woman's life, a story of awakening at middle age, and a thoughtful examination of the dynamics of self and collective identity. It is a steady-eyed look inside insular communities that also celebrates their comforts. It is a rare portrait of a long, happy marriage. And it is an unforgettable new novel from a writer whose imagination is matched only by the depth of her humanity.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Goldbloom's characterization of Surie, and of the whole cast, is wonderfully complex...she explores complicated questions about community and individuality with humor, wit, and great sensitivity." - Kirkus Reviews

"Goldbloom's portrait of a woman on the verge of claiming her own agency even after she thought all her life's questions had been answered makes for fascinating, stirring reading." - Publishers Weekly

"This is a novel that moves and affects us on so many levels—as a witness to the unremitting pain of losing a child, as an exploration of the dance of intimacy and interiority in a marriage that is nearly lifelong, and as a celebration of our endless capacity to create new life, and to create new lives for ourselves." - Lilith Magazine

"Goldie Goldbloom's Surie is a character at once mythic and deeply human: a wise Chassidic elder in a youthful predicament, freighted by loss, denial, and blossoming hope. On Division is as beautiful as it is unexpected." - Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl

"What a marvel this novel is! Unsentimental, beautifully observed, rich in both joy and heartbreak, this is an indelible portrait of a remarkable woman embedded in a community pulsing with all the feelings and contradictions of a living faith." - Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Archangel

"Goldie Goldbloom offers us, out of the very specific and often unfamiliar, a woman to be known and loved by every reader. On Division is a novel of wisdom and uncertainty, of love in its greater and lesser forms, and of the struggle between how it should be and how it is. It is impossible not to be moved and surprised by Goldie Goldbloom." - Amy Bloom, author of White Houses

This information about On Division 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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Betty Taylor

A look inside an insular community
This book provided an in-depth look at life within the insular Chassidic community. However, the third person perspective left me feeling no connection to the characters. I think I would have preferred a first person perspective for this story.

Surie, at the age of 57, is pregnant with twins. She already has 32 grandchildren. She fears for her family’s reputation. None of her peers have been pregnant within the past decade. Ashamed, she begins lying to her husband for the first time in their marriage. She and her children will be shunned if others find out about her pregnancy. I couldn’t really connect with Surie’s feelings given the narrative was an observation.

This book is good for people who have an interest in learning about the lives of the Chassid. Goldblum presents their lives in a very respectful manner, revealing the positives of such a close-knit community along with its negatives.

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the advance e-galley. Opinions expressed are my own.

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Author Information

Goldie Goldbloom Author Biography

Goldie Goldbloom is an Australian novelist and short story writer. Her novel The Paperbark Shoe won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Award for Fiction and the Foreword Magazine Novel of the Year. She's been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Dora Maar House-Brown Foundation Fellowship.

She teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago and is the mother of eight children. Goldie raises chickens, trout and organic vegetables at her urban garden.

Author Interview
Link to Goldie Goldbloom's Website

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