Synopses & Reviews
Many years have passed since Oliver Levin -- a bestselling mystery writer and a lifetime sufferer from blocked emotions -- has given any thought to his parents. Not to their double suicide inside a Miami synagogue, not to the horrors they endured in the Nazi concentration camps. He also hasnt thought much about his wife, who vanished inexplicably a decade earlier. Now, after years of uninterrupted literary output, Oliver Levin finds himself blocked as a writer, too.
The only person aware of Oliver's anguish is his teenage daughter, Ariel, who lives with him on Edgar Allan Poe Street in Manhattan, longing for the grandparents she never knew and the mother she never had. An amateur kabbalist and suddenly a klezmer violin virtuoso, Ariel sets out to rescue her father from his demons and denial by summoning the people who she thinks hold the key to Oliver's emotional black hole -- his dead parents, Rose and Lothar.
Inspired by the tale of the Golem of Prague, Ariel resurrects her grandparents as creatures of rescue, but they come back as ghosts with a plan of their own. Moreover, they don't come back alone; their entourage includes six famous writers -- all, including Primo Levi and Jerzy Kosinski, Holocaust survivors and suicide victims.
Trekking through the surreal, millennial landscape, the Golems of Gotham transform Manhattan and take Ariel and Oliver on an achingly symbolic and hilarious journey that confronts the mysteries and the conflicted legacy left to the post-Holocaust world.
Highly original and deeply insightful, The Golems of Gotham is a novel of moral philosophy that explores the relationship between art and atrocity, the artist's romance with madness, and his responsibility to history. Part ghost story, part mystery, it offers lasting commentary on the preservation and reinvention of memory, and the power of the mind to conjure both its own prison and liberation.
On the surface a poignant story about a child's longing to save her father and a mystery writer's quest to decipher the riddle of his own life, The Golems of Gotham is a work of staggering imagination that explores some of the most haunting, unanswered questions of our time.
"In...The Golems of Gotham, Rosenbaum combines the strangeness of his early stories with the realism of his previous novel [Second Hand Smoke] to produce a book at once magical and natural....Rosenbaum is too wise and too fine a writer...to allow for sentimental solutions....Rosenbaum's novel is at once chilling and warm, rigorous and fanciful, savagely witty and profoundly reasoned. The Golems of Gotham charms as it frightens and moves us, and shows a novelist moving into the fullness of his imaginative capacity." Floyd Skloot, The San Francisco Chronicle
"Rosenbaum's latest promises an engagement with the relations between art, suffering, and memory, but delivers Mel Brooks without the rim shots in the tale of a blocked Jewish mystery writer whose daughter resurrects ghosts to release his creativity." Kirkus Reviews
"[An] intriguing but undisciplined second novel....Rosenbaum's far-fetched modern fairy tale is entertaining, despite some sappy moments, but his focus wanders frequently, particularly when he goes off on tangents about the golems as they work their strange magic....The author's passion for his subject permeates these pages, but it will be tough for this book to earn an audience beyond readers who share Rosenbaum's devotion to keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive." Publishers Weekly
Part ghost story, part haunting fable inspired by Jewish mysticism and folklore, "The Golems of Gotham" tells the story of Oliver Levin, a bestselling gothic mystery writer and his teenage daughter, Ariel, who suddenly emerges as a precocious klezmer violinist and amateur kabbalist. A wildly imaginative exploration of how the Holocaust became part of society's shared consciousness, and what will happen once it retreats from the center of collective memory.
About the Author
Thane Rosenbaum teaches courses in human rights, legal humanities, and law and literature at Fordham Law School. He is also an award-winning novelist (The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible). His essays appear frequently in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and other national publications. He lives in New York City with his daughter, Basia Tess.