Thursday, May 16, 2019

What is Leah Hager Cohen reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Leah Hager Cohen, author of Strangers and Cousins: A Novel.

Her entry begins:
I’ve just finished A Simple Story, the 1923 novel by the Nobel Laureate S. Y. Agnon. Should I be embarrassed to say that I’d never even heard of Agnon until recently?

Any simplicity here is deceptive; the title should be taken with a wink. Although the story, set in the fictional Polish town of Szybusz at the turn of the 20th century, unfolds as if a familiar tale (think star-crossed lovers) in a familiar setting (think Isaac Bashevis Singer’s The Fools of Chelm or Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye the Dairyman), it’s anything but.

The experience of reading this book was wonderfully disorienting, as my expectations were...[read on]
About Strangers and Cousins, from the publisher:
A novel about what happens when an already sprawling family hosts an even larger and more chaotic wedding: an entertaining story about family, culture, memory, and community.

In the seemingly idyllic town of Rundle Junction, Bennie and Walter are preparing to host the wedding of their eldest daughter Clem. A marriage ceremony at their beloved, rambling home should be the happiest of occasions, but Walter and Bennie have a secret. A new community has moved to Rundle Junction, threatening the social order and forcing Bennie and Walter to confront uncomfortable truths about the lengths they would go to to maintain harmony.

Meanwhile, Aunt Glad, the oldest member of the family, arrives for the wedding plagued by long-buried memories of a scarring event that occurred when she was a girl in Rundle Junction. As she uncovers details about her role in this event, the family begins to realize that Clem’s wedding may not be exactly what it seemed. Clever, passionate, artistic Clem has her own agenda. What she doesn’t know is that by the end, everyone will have roles to play in this richly imagined ceremony of familial connection-a brood of quirky relatives, effervescent college friends, ghosts emerging from the past, a determined little mouse, and even the very group of new neighbors whose presence has shaken Rundle Junction to its core.

With Strangers and Cousins, Leah Hager Cohen delivers a story of pageantry and performance, hopefulness and growth, and introduces a winsome, unforgettable cast of characters whose lives are forever changed by events that unfold and reverberate across generations.
Visit Leah Hager Cohen's website.

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Writers Read: Leah Hager Cohen.

--Marshal Zeringue