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The Child: A Novel Hardcover – April 20, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; First Edition edition (April 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786718668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786718665
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,142,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The age of consent provides the flash point for Schulman's disturbing eighth novel (after 1998's Shimmer). The online activities of Stew Mulcahey—15, gay and troubled—lead him straight into the arms of David Ziemska, 39, and his lover, Joe. The two are subsequently arrested for child molestation. Schulman, a noted playwright and gay and lesbian rights activist, examines, with unflinching precision, the aftermath for Stew—his unhappy relationship with his family and the mental deterioration that leads to the senseless murder of Victor, Stew's young nephew. But if Stew is tried as an adult for murder, should the child molestation charge against David and Joe be dismissed? David's gay lawyer, Hockey Notkin, who's struggling with AIDS, turns for help to longtime friend and fellow lawyer, Eve Krasner, who's depressed, estranged from her partner and worried about cancer. Schulman crafts a piercing investigation into desire, mores and the law. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A well-researched, energetic, bitterly truthful novel...It is Schulman's ability to look pain in the eye and convert it to wisdom that the reader admires."

More About the Author

Sarah Schulman is the author of novels, nonfiction books, plays and movies. Her forthcoming works are THE COSMOPOLITANS, a novel coming in March 2016 from The Feminist Press and a nonfiction book CONFLICT IS NOT ABUSE: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility and the Duty of Repair. She recently published ISRAEL/PALESTINE AND THE QUEER INTERNATIONAL from Duke University Press, THE GENTRIFICATION OF THE MIND: WItness to a Lost Imagination by University of California Press, the paperback of TIES THAT BIND: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences and the paperback edition of her novel THE MERE FUTURE from Arsenal Pulp.Previous novels are THE CHILD, SHIMMER, EMPATHY, RAT BOHEMIA, PEOPLE IN TROUBLE, AFTER DELORES, GIRLS VISIONS AND EVERYTHING and THE SOPHIE HOROWITZ STORY. Her nonfiction titles are TIES THAT BIND: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences, STAGESTRUCK:Theater, AIDS and the Marketing of Gay America, and MY AMERICAN HISTORY: Lesbian and Gay Life During the Reagan/Bush Years. A working playwright, her productions include: CARSON McCULLERS (published by Playscripts Ink), MANIC FLIGHT REACTION and the theatrical adaptation of Isaac Singer's ENEMIES, A LOVE STORY. As a screenwriter, her films include THE OWLS (co-written with director Cheryl Dunye)- Berlin Film Festival 2010, MOMMY IS COMING (co-written with director Cheryl Dunye)- Berlin Film Festival selection 2011. and JASON AND SHIRLEY, directed by Stephen Winter. She is co-producer with Jim Hubbard of his feature documentary UNITED IN ANGER: A History of ACT UP. As a journalist, her essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, and Interview. She has won a Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwrighting, a Fullbright in Judaic Studies, two American Library Association Book Awards, and is the 2009 recipient of the Kessler Prize for sustained contribution to LGBT studies. Sarah is Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York, College of State Island, a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University. A member of the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, Sarah is faculty advisor to Students for Justice in Palestine at The College of Staten Island. She lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on June 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stewie Mulcahey is a shy and troubled 15 year old gay boy from a dysfunctional home, who finds his only acceptance and comfort in the arms of David, a 39 year old man he met through an internet chat room. When his parents find out, Stewie is coerced by the police into testifying against the adult, although the boy insists he always initiated their contacts and was not forced into anything. His home life deteriorates further, with his parents and sister making it clear they want him out of the house, and they become upset when a social worker refuses to send him to a juvenile detention home. The situation escallates until an episode in which he is charged as an adult with murder in the death of his young nephew, whom they suspected him of molesting.

One of the two attorneys for David, the adult charged in the molestation, is Eva Krasner, who is simultaneously going through some tough times with his lover, Mary, and facing a possible health crisis. She is working with gay attorney Hockey Notkin, who seems a bit bitter and distracted since losing his lover to AIDS. They struggle with the dilemma of creating a defense for David without simultaneously pushing more of the blame on Stewie who, while he is not their client, they feel is more of a victim of his family's and the justice system's homophobia than anything else.

Sarah Schulman is a well-known lesbian writer who has a reputation for edgy works, and this is no exception. She tackles a difficult and controversial subject head on, but with a skillfully light touch that doesn't prejudge or challenge the opinions of the reader. The novel reads like a crime mystery, and catches the readers attention every step of the way.
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Format: Hardcover
The 'child' of the (ironic) title is Stew, a typical, lonely, 15 year old gay male living with his self-involved parents. He meets a gay male couple though the internet and starts building a full relationship (including sexual elements) with them. For a brief moment he believes that he has found happiness and acceptance - perhaps life is worth living after all? On the way back from a visit with them, he is the subject of a entrapment scene is a public toilet; arrested, he is taken to a police station whereupon he is manipulated into revealing where he had been. The gay couple are arrested on charges of 'child abuse', and Stew's nightmare begins:

"He was surrounded by walls, his family, the police. No one was flexible. No one had a reasonable explanation for their behavior, and no one had to."

A variety of characters and sub-plots populate this novel, with particular precedence given to Eva, a lesbian woman and a lawyer, who becomes involved in defending one of the partners in the gay couple detained on 'child abuse' charges. Indeed, the novel focuses not so much on the subsequent legal processes, but rather on the background cast of characters involved: Eva; her relationship with her partner Mary; Stew's family; the social worker assigned to Stew; and Hockey, an HIV+ lawyer working alongside Eva. This broader perspective enables the author to capture her primary theme: exposing the delusions that individuals create in order to satisfy their own egoistic desires.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Labella on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If you know who Procrustes was, and what "procrustean" means, then you'll be at home in this book. That mythical character is alive and well, but his modus operandi has changed since Greek times: now s/he's the person who asks "Can't we all just get along together?" when what s/he really means is, "Why aren't you more like me and how can I force you to become so without being perceived as a monster?"

This novel is part of a line of great works of art that show, in very entertaining terms, how individuals are often destroyed by the helping systems that are supposed to protect them. I think of "The Consul" by Gian Carlo Menotti as a similarly great work with the same timely overarching theme. This is not to say that if you loved Menotti's "The Consul", you'll love Schulman's book - but you *might* if you are willing to re-read the book until you 'get it'.

About the humor: Wonderful! but I missed a lot of it at first read because there are so many other things that grabbed my attention. Examples: Eva's riffs on voice mail systems at large companies; and there are screamingly funny sentences all throughout the book, one being something like 'I can't believe f****** Michele disconnected me!' (Michele being a sour and uninformed operator at some unnamed company.) Some writers would get a chuckle out of such a line; the way Schulman writes, it is so beautifully set up that I laughed, in pain, out loud, on the subway, for a long time. People were suspicious: "What is wrong with that man that he is laughing in public in front of strangers."

How can something so humiliating feel so cathartic?

"The Child" is rooted in a set of Gay/Lesbian experience that seems pretty common to me, so "What happens next, and Why" made total sense.
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