Sunday, May 13, 2012

What is Tony Eprile reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Tony Eprile, author of The Persistence of Memory, a novel about South Africa’s turbulent history at the end of the 20th century, and the collection of stories Temporary Sojourner.

His entry begins:
My reading tends to be eclectic and international in scope. While I’ll read the latest topics in American literature—such as Nathan Englander’s new collection of stories—I’m just as likely to pick up an Israeli, Japanese, or African novel or memoir.

Right now, I’m reading Israeli author Meir Shalev’s Four Meals (1994), beautifully translated by Barbara Harshav. It’s the story of a boy whose mother had three lovers, each of whom has some claim on him as their son:
From Moshe Rabinovitch, I inherited a farm and a cowshed and yellow hair.

From Jacob Sheinfeld I inherited a fine house, fine furnishings, empty canary cages, and drooping shoulders.

And from Globerman the cattle dealer, I inherited a knipele of money and my gigantic feet. (p.7)
There is a great deal that’s out of the ordinary in each of these fathers, and the reader is quickly caught up in a world where the unusual happens without being remarked as strange. The boy is named Zayde—grandfather—which so disgusts and disturbs the Angel of Death, that the boy cannot die…even if he falls out of a high tree or is shot at during one of Israel’s conflicts. I love the...[read on]
Among the praise for Temporary Sojourner:
“A young writer of promise, with an eye both tender and acerbic.”
–Nadine Gordimer

“A vigorous, supple portrayal of the diversity and divisiveness of South Africa… false steps are few in this vibrant work, ringing with harnessed outrage and with love for a people and a land rich in potential.”
Publishers Weekly

“A riveting collection of memories, observations, and comment.”

“Eprile writes about being an outsider — as child, black, Jew, immigrant, exile or returnee — to South African society … [these] stories display acute sensitivity to the details of human interaction.”
New York Newsday
The Persistence of Memory, which won the Koret Jewish Book Award, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and was listed as a best book of 2004 by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles TimesTemporary Sojourner, which was also a New York Times Notable Book, was recently reissued by PFP/Ajar Contemporaries.

The Page 99 Test: The Persistence of Memory.

Writers Read: Tony Eprile.

--Marshal Zeringue