Synopses & Reviews
“A taut, visceral account of a young Jewish boy’s African life . . . offering at times page-turning thrills and at others a painful meditation on destiny and volition.” — NPR, All Things Considered
A powerful family saga, The Lion Seeker is a thrilling ride through the life of Isaac Helger, from redheaded hooligan on the streets of Johannesburg to striving young man on the make. Growing up in the shadow of World War II, Isaac is caught between his mother’s urgent ambition to bring her sisters to safety out of the old world and his own desire for the freedoms of the new. But soon his mother’s carefully guarded secret takes them to the diamond mines, where mysteries are unveiled in the desert rocks and Isaac begins to learn the bittersweet reality of success bought at truly any cost.
“[A] master storyteller . . . Bonert’s zest for description, his attention to social nuances, and his eagerness to tell a large story in a large way . . . [creates] a big, richly detailed novel.” — Tablet Magazine
“Raw and ambitious.” — Moment
“Astonishingly mature, admirably incautious . . . It’s visually and thematically sweeping, rich with diverse personalities, packed with tender waves and roiling crests of love, loss, hope, hatred.” — National Post (Canada)
“Stunning.” — Jewish Daily Forward
“Powerful and thoroughly engrossing . . . To read it is to be reminded how great a great novel can be.” — David Bezmozgis, author of The Free World
"In a powerfully moving and ambitious debut, Gilmore follows the lives of three immigrant families, the Brodskys, the Verdoniks and the Blooms, who all begin their American journeys in shtetl-like Brooklyn and end up somewhere unexpected between the 1920s and the 1960s. Struggling door-to-door salesman Joseph Brodsky invents Essoil, the world's first two-in-one cleaner, and makes his childhood friend Frances Verdonik whose husband, Vladimir, invents the television its first TV spokesperson. Meanwhile, Joseph's brother, Solomon Brodsky, works his way up through New York's Prohibition-era underworld to become a powerful bootlegger known as the Terrier. When he marries Pauline Verdonik, Frances's sister, and draws Seymour Bloom, whose son eventually marries Joseph Brodsky's daughter, into organized crime, the lives of all three families are inextricably linked. Gilmore's large cast allows her to take a panoramic look at the period of intense change spurred by waves of immigration and the television, which brought celebrities and products into living rooms throughout America. She also delves into the daily goings-on in three generations of families as they are forged in the 20th-century crucible. Talented and compassionate, Gilmore is a writer to watch. (Sept. 5)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Gilmore vividly renders the lives of the Brodskys and Blooms as they experience both sides of the American dream.... Gilmore deftly documents the history of the era, from the Depression to the invention of television, but her real strength is in her characters.... Readers will embrace Gilmore's tale of individuals who test their mettle in a bittersweet era suffused with sorrow and success." Booklist (starred review)
"[An] affecting debut... While assimilation, from nose jobs to New England colleges, comes into play, Gilmore's sweeping narrative goes much further, covering the political and social markers of almost five decades. Gender relations, as well as the impact of class ascendance on both individuals and families, are deftly and sensitively covered
the novel's historical backdrop the lure of the Mafia in Brooklyn's impoverished Williamsburg community, the Great Depression, the 1939 World's Fair, the invention of television, the magic of Broadway musicals makes this a memorable and often powerful book. Highly recommended." Library Journal (starred review)
vividly brings to life the intertwining stories of three immigrants seeking their fortunes: the handsome and ambitious Seymour, a salesman turned gangster turned Broadway producer; the gentle and pragmatic Joseph, a door-to-door salesman who is driven to invent a cleanser effective enough to wipe away the shame of his brother's mob connections; and the irresistible Frances Gold, who grows up in Brooklyn, stars in Seymour's first show, and marries the man who invents television. Their three families, though inextricably connected for years, are brought together for the first time by the engagement of Seymour's son and Joseph's daughter. David and Miriam's marriage must endure the inheritance of not only their parents' wealth but also the burdens of their pasts.
Spanning the first half of the twentieth century, Golden Country captures the exuberance of the American dream while exposing its underbelly disillusionment, greed, and the disaffection bred by success.
Gilmore reinvents the classic Jewish American novel in her ambitious and extraordinary debut that follows the intertwining lives of three immigrant families from the 1920s to 1960s.
A LOS ANGELES TIMES
BOOK PRIZE FINALIST
A NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FINALIST
Golden Country vividly brings to life the intertwining stories of three immigrants seeking their fortunes: the handsome and ambitious Seymour, a salesman turned gangster turned Broadway producer; the gentle and pragmatic Joseph, a door-to-door salesman who is driven to invent a cleanser effective enough to wipe away the shame of his brothers mob connections; and the irresistible Frances Gold, who grows up in Brooklyn, stars in Seymours first show, and marries the man who invents television.
"Gilmore's lively prose captures both the exuberance and the disillusionment of the immigrant experience."--Entertainment Weekly
"With a voice at turns wise and barbed with sharp humor, Gilmore warns: be careful what you wish for, the American Dream can sometimes be a nightmare."--Vanity Fair
"Jennifer Gilmore might just be the Jewish answer to Jhumpa Lahiri. Her absorbing novel captures the sadness and wonder of the immigrant experience."--W Magazine
"This novel is extremely engaging . . . well researched and charmingly recalled."The Washington Post Book World
JENNIFER GILMOREs work has appeared in magazines, journals, and anthologies, including the New York Times Magazine, Allure, Nerve, and Salon. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit www.JenniferGilmore.net.
In the tradition of the great immigrant sagas, The Lion Seeker brings us Isaac Helger, son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, surviving the streets of Johannesburg in the shadow of World War II
About the Author
JENNIFER GILMORE's first novel, Golden Country, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2006 and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She currently teaches at Eugene Lang College, the New School for Liberal Arts and lives in Brooklyn, New York.