From Publishers Weekly
When literature professor Joseph Licht invites his five adult sons to celebrate his 50th birthday in 1996 Tel Aviv, he hopes to win his boys' love and forgiveness by plying them with their favorite foods. From that opening in Fallenberg's ambitious debut, Joseph's life unfolds in retrospect: 20 years earlier, as a married father of five, Joseph discovers he is gay as he falls in love with a charismatic, and married, rabbi. The rabbi kills himself not long after he and Joseph start their affair, and a crushed Joseph, in one fell swoop, jettisons his marriage and adherence to Modern Orthodox Judaism. The familial repercussions are myriad and extreme, leaving Joseph's wife bereft and his sons with issues that range from low self-esteem and lack of trust to fanatical nationalism and religiosity. While Joseph and the rabbi's lovemaking is sentimentalized, and Joseph's and one son's homosexual awakenings seem abrupt, Fallenberg's descriptions of Israeli life, from the rural and academic arenas to the gay milieu, are credible and absorbing. The book adroitly sketches the heartfelt struggles of a sympathetic cast. (Jan.)
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