Synopses & Reviews
Moll Flanders in America, this epic, intimate novel follows a young Russian immigrant determined to make her way--and find her daughter--in the hip, harsh 1920s.
On a morning in 1924, a young woman rises from the floor of her family's small home in Belorussia to find her parents and her husband slaughtered beside her and her infant daughter, Sophie, missing. When her aunt tells her the baby is dead, Lillian emigrates to America. She is working as a seamstress at the Yiddish Theater and enjoying café society when a cousin arrives and insists that her daughter is still alive--in Siberia.
Lillian cannot stop dreaming of Sophie; she feels she must get to Russia, yet she can't afford the passage. Her only friend, an actor turned tailor, steals atlases from the New York Public Library and sews them into an overcoat for her. She crosses North America by rail, truck, and foot, encountering drifters, wardens, pimps, missionaries, and tattoo artists. From Dawson City, Alaska, she sets sail for Russia. She falls in love, falls in with the wrong people, leaps before she looks, hopes hard, and refuses to give up.
Inspired by a true story, Away is Moll Flanders in America and Odysseus in the Jazz
"Rosenblat, who has narrated hundreds of books over the past 15 years, has a deep, clear, engaging voice and a mastery of cadence and inflection that projects wit and nuanced meaning. Rosenblat is renowned for her proficiency with accents an important skill for Bloom's fifth novel, which includes all sorts of wonderfully complex human beings: Reuben and Meyer Burstein, scions of the 1920s Lower East Side Yiddish theater; Midwestern WASPS; and Seattle's 'colored' lumpen. Lillian Leyb, a 22-year-old Yiddish-speaking immigrant whose parents and husband were brutally slaughtered during a Russian pogrom, is searching for her missing three-year-old daughter, Sophie. In New York, Lillian hears that Sophie has been seen with a family in Siberia. With her dictionary, thesaurus and a map, she sets out on her journey across America. Bloom's graphic, often witty and erotic descriptions of Lillian's adventures include a blow job exchanged for a free ride in the broom closet of a train; her odd friendship with Gumdrop, a 'colored' prostitute whose pimp they accidentally murder; and, finally, her moving redemption through care and love. Away is a remarkable saga best experienced through Rosenblat's masterly interpretation. Simultaneous release with the Random House hardcover (Reviews, June 18, 2003). (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The pleasures of Away
are the ordinary pleasures of extraordinary novels: finely wrought prose, vivid characters, delectable details."
--The Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times
An urgent, riveting, fabulously entertaining road trip of a novel, Away
grabs you by the throat from the first page to the last, breaks your heart and shakes all your senses awake.
--Emma Donoghue, author of Touchy Subjects
Amy Bloom's work has always revolved around what love and desire can make us do. In Away
, she paints filial love on an immense geographic and historical canvas. The result, a story of loss and survival, is gripping.
--Christopher Tilghman, author of Roads of the Heart
"Amy Bloom gets more meaning into individual sentences than most authors manage in whole books."
--New Yorker The New Yorker
"Any new book by Amy Bloom is a cause for celebration."
--The Times (London) The Times (London)
is a modest name for a book as gloriously transporting as Amy Bloom's new novel. Alive with incident and unforgettable characters, it sparkles and illuminates as brilliantly as it entertains."
--Janet Maslin, New York Times The New York Times
"...reads like dry wood bursting into flame: desperate and impassioned, erotic and moving--absolutely hypnotic. [W]hat begins as a paean to the immigrant spirit in a city of millions is ultimately a gasp of wonder at the persistence of love, even in the remotest spot on earth."
--The Washington Post The Washington Post
Summary doesn't do justice to this compact epic's richness of episode and characterization, nor to the exemplary skill with which Bloom increases her story's resonance through dramatic foreshadowing of what lies ahead . . . .Echoes of Ragtime, Cold Mountain
and Irving Howe's World of Our Fathers
, in an amazingly dense, impressively original novel.
--Kirkus Reviews (starred) Kirkus Reviews
"Bloom is a first-rate story-teller . . ." [starred review]
Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and inmate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New York's Lower East Side, to Seattle's Jazz District, and up to Alaska, along the fabled Telegraph Trail toward Siberia. All of the qualities readers love in Amy Bloom's work--her humor and wit, her elegant and irreverent language, her unflinching understanding of passion and the human heart--come together in the embrace of this brilliant novel which is at once heartbreaking, romantic, and completely unforgettable.
About the Author
AMY BLOOM is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, one a nominee for the National Book Award and the other a National Book Critics Circle Award nominee. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, Slate, and Salon, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award. Her first book of nonfiction, Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude, is an exploration of the varieties of gender. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University.Multiple Audie® Award winner Barbara Rosenblat has been named a "Voice of the Twentieth Century" by AudioFile magazine. The New York Times writes,"Watch Ms. Rosenblat work...and you get the sense that even an Oscar winner might not be able to pull this off." She created the role of "Mrs. Medlock" in the Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical The Secret Garden.