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Light Fell Hardcover – January 1, 2008
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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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Awarded the 2009 Stonewall Prize for Fiction.
Winner of the Publishing Triangle's 2008 Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction.
“Touching . . . It raises brave questions about the nature of family and betrayal, rupture and healing." —San Francisco Chronicle
"A stirring exploration of obsession, spirituality and the healing power of time . . . Light Fell is an astonishingly accomplished first novel, wisely attuned to life’s infinitely strange turns." —The Miami Herald
"Evan Fallenberg has written an honest and brave book." —Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment
"Elegant . . . Moving.” —The Jewish Daily Forward
"Powerful." —Victoria Redel, author of The Border of Truth
"Credible and absorbing." —Publishers Weekly
"Fallenberg’s smoothly flowing observations of father-son bonds and of love of many kinds resonates on many levels.” —Booklist
"Intelligent." —Kirkus Reviews
"Compelling." —Library Journal
"Exquisite, marvelously peopled and extraordinarily moving." —Aryeh Lev Stollman, author of The Illuminated Soul --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
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If you are gay and Jewish, particularly if you grow up in a household with any degree of religious observance, this book will mesmerize you on many levels. From his beginning as a "conventional" intellectual, balancing his studies with a family of five highly diverse boys and his wife, to his metamorphosis to his independence as a gay man trying to reconnect with his children, the story amazes and spellbinds.
Evan Fallenberg's flowing prose navigates us admirably through the complexities of these relationships, against the background of Israeli moshav life in the 1970s, and later, Tel Aviv in the 1990s.
A powerful and thought-provoking book, lifting us well above the usual banalities of gay relationships.
20 years earlier, Joseph, a literature professor, meets Rabbi Yoel Rosenznweig, who is something of a genius/prodigy of the Torah. Something connects between the two of them. Almost without a second thought, Joseph abandons his faithful wife and 5 sons...only to discover that Yoel has committed suicide.
I felt that *Light Fell* was a frustrating book because Joseph works hard in preparing the arrival of his sons. His sons are spoiled, judgmental and unappreciative. In addition, Fallenberg doesn't give the sons any depths as he has given to Joseph. Perhaps if we knew more about the sons' views, we might be able to understand their position with their father.