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Elana Dykewomon's Lambda Award-winning novel Beyond the Pale announces itself to the world with an infant's scream--"a new voice, a tiny shofar announcing its own first year." The midwife attending this birth is Gutke Gurvich, a half-Jew with different colored eyes and a gift for seeing into the spirit world. Beyond the Pale is Gutke's story, detailing her odyssey from a Russian shtetl to a comfortable Manhattan brownstone. But, as Dykewomon puts it, "Whenever you tell the story of one woman, inside is another," and this rich, multilayered novel is also the story of Chava Meyer, the baby girl Gutke delivered that day, as well as the story of the important women in both of their lives: mothers, sisters, neighbors, lovers, friends. After seeing her mother raped and killed during a particularly vicious progrom in her native village of Kishinev, Chava immigrates to America. There, on Manhattan's Lower East Side, both she and Gutke find themselves involved in the nascent labor union and suffrage movements. Dykewomon has clearly done her research here, and Beyond the Pale presents a beautifully detailed account of life among turn-of-the-century immigrant Jews, from classes at the Henry Street Settlement House to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Through the lens of several lesbians' lives, Dykewomon draws a portrait of an entire Diasporan community living through the terror and uncertainties of both Russian progroms and life in the New World. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The pale was a marker outside the Russian towns where Jews were forced to live, but neither separation nor integration protected them from pogroms, which continued into the 20th century. Into this world, midwife Gutke delivers baby Chava in 1889. They meet again after emigrating to New York City, when Chava is a young adult. Dykewomon, author of the classic Riverfinger Women (1974), has written a page-turner that brings to life turn-of-the-century New York's Lower East Side, with its teeming crowds, its sweatshops, the Henry Street Settlement House, and events like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire. Chava becomes active in the Women's League and is confronted with its racism and anti-Semitism. Gutke, married to a woman who passes as a man, shows Chava (and today's readers as well) one way that women made their lives with other women in the pre-Stonewall era. Infighting and lack of vision among progressive groups, immigrants torn between assimilation and preserving the traditions that define them?these issues are as pressing today as they were a century ago, and they are well portrayed in this historical fiction. Recommended for all collections.?Ina Rimpau, Newark P.L., N.J.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I finished Beyond the Pale more than 4 weeks ago, yet it is still resonating within me. The author's writing style is wonderfully rich. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2004 by MB
Amazing story about amazing women. Also about the Jewish identity. The author mentions that she wanted to tell a story of Jewish persecution outside the Holocaust, to show that it... Read morePublished on Jan. 24 2004 by Elizabeth K. Roth
Opening in the early years of the twentieth century, Beyond The Pale by Elana Dykewomon is the engaging story of Gutke Gurvich and Chava Meyer -- two Russian Jewish women who go... Read morePublished on Jan. 17 2004 by Midwest Book Review
Beautifully told. Please refer to Jewett62's review, she really says it all. I just needed to add my 5-star rating!Published on Oct. 30 2001
Elana uses the themes of love, loss, family, tradition, and religion to weave a novel that tackles life's core issues and illuminates several historical time-periods. Read morePublished on March 9 2001 by Jennifer Wiley
Dykewomon's latest novel is intricate and well-researched. It was a treat for my mind and my heart. Prospective readers should know that Beyond the Pale is no ordinary cotton-candy... Read morePublished on Dec 2 1998
This is an important story which needs to be heard, which means it also deserves to be written well. Read morePublished on July 20 1998