- Paperback: 247 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0812977793
- ISBN-13: 978-0812977790
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 226 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Away: A Novel Paperback – June 24, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Life is no party for Lillian Leyb, the 22-year-old Jewish immigrant protagonist of Bloom's outstanding fifth novel: her husband and parents were killed in a Russian pogrom, and the same violent episode separated her from her three-year-old daughter, Sophie. Arriving in New York in 1924, Lillian dreams of Sophie, and after five weeks in America, barely speaking English, she outmaneuvers a line of applicants for a seamstress job at the Goldfadn Yiddish Theatre, where she becomes the mistress of both handsome lead actor Meyer Burstein and his very connected father, Reuben. Her only friend in New York, tailor/actor/playwright Yaakov Shimmelman, gives her a thesaurus and coaches her on American culture. In a last, loving, gesture, Yaakov secures Lillian passage out of New York to begin her quest to find Sophie. The journey—through Chicago by train, into Seattle's African-American underworld and across the Alaskan wilderness—elevates Bloom's novel from familiar immigrant chronicle to sweeping saga of endurance and rebirth. Encompassing prison, prostitution and poetry, Yiddish humor and Yukon settings, Bloom's tale offers linguistic twists, startling imagery, sharp wit and a compelling vision of the past. Bloom has created an extraordinary range of characters, settings and emotions. Absolutely stunning. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Inspired by the legend of Lillian Alling, a Russian immigrant who decided to walk home to Siberia in the 1920s, Amy Bloom has taken the few details known to history and fleshed them out into a brilliant, enthralling novel. Critics universally lauded Bloom's lovely prose, wit, incisive characterizations, and keen grasp of the complexities of the human heart. Her careful balance of tragedy and humor, and irony and compassion, sidesteps sentimentality, and the novel retains a Dickensian flair without ever becoming maudlin. (Only USA Today faulted its epic-like narrative.) Critics also praised Bloom's narrative trick of revealing her characters' futures as they leave the plot. Hailed as a "literary triumph" by the New York Times, "it is also a classic page-turner, one that delivers a relentlessly good read."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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The author provides a degree of closure for each chapter by spelling out the futures of those Lillian leaves behind on her journey to recover Sophie. In this respect, the novel is structured like a series of short stories with a common central character, Lillian.
Not many picaresque novels have a woman as a central character, and Bloom makes the most of her character's gender. In America on the road in the 1920s, in the working-class environment, sex was both a commonplace and a commodity. Lillian learns this lesson quickly and uses it to her best advantage. She's neither totally straight nor totally lesbian, simply whatever works for her at the given moment. Like many heroes and anti-heroes, she lives by her wits. Even though she is separated by death and distance from her entire family, she makes a life for herself.
It is true that many secondary characters seem to come and go and are not especially well developed, but the same is true of most characters in novels of this type, such as Kerouac's "On the Road," Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and Cervantes' "Don Quixote." I am not saying that "Away" has the permanent literary value of these works but that it should be understood in the same tradition.