10-22-2008 04:35 PM
Here is a place for you to share any links that are pertinent to aspects of the book.
Those of you who have already posted some wonderful historical info on other threads, feel free to re-post the links here.
10-28-2008 08:06 AM
I like your comparison to madeleines and pretzels. Here is a nice website on bialys. They look like a good comfort food. They are Polish so perhaps are a link to Audrey's Polish parents. According to the Wikipedia website they have a connection with the Bialy Bakers Association, a trade union, so that is also relevant to the book.
(In my extended family we have a Polish Jew and two of the delicacies that she brings to various gatherings are bialys and makowiec, poppy seed cake. Yum!)
Zoe Heller wrote: My decision regarding the more abstruse parts of Jewish observance was to do as little as explaining as possible. I didn't want the novel to end up reading like a work of anthropology or sociology. In most instances, I tried to make the gist clear - so that even if the reader didn't fully understand the ritual or law mentioned, she/he would understand enough for the purposes of the story. Am I wrong? Have a lot of you had trouble following what's going on in the Jewish scenes?
Most of the terms were broadly clear from the context, near enough as you say for the story, but my problem was that there were so many unfamiliar terms, and each one stopped the flow of the story to make me think about whether it was important enough to go to the dictionary (or beyond for some of the more abstruse terms) or just read along getting the gist but not the details. For a simiplistic example, in Chapter 1 Joel is upset because his wife didn't get bialys. So I stop and wonder, how important is it to know that a bialy is? It's still early in the book before I know whether you as author are saying something important with the bialys (are they going to be your madelines?? are they somehow representative of some image, as a pretzel carries the old symbolism of praying children?) . You say that they are carbohydrates, but of what kind? Not bagles, presumably, or donuts, or you would have said those. Are they nothing he could have gotten at the bogeda when he got the papers? So I felt compelled to go look up what a bialy is, which interrupted the flow of the reading. Once or twice or three times this isn't a great distraction, but after awhile I just accepted that I wouldn't understand precisely what you were talking about, which was a pragmatic decision but I don't like not knowing whether the precision of meaning might sometimes be important.
10-30-2008 04:20 PM
Speaking of bialys, Mimi Sheraton, the former restaurant critic for The New York Times, wrote a great homage to that perfect circle of carbohydrate a few years ago.
11-01-2008 05:07 PM
While trying to see things through Rosa's eyes a little better, I came across this little bit of information on Monsey, New York - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
I hope others will find this a little helpful with understanding the significance of Rosa's trip.