On Division: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Through one woman's life at a moment of surprising change, the award-winning author Goldie Goldbloom tells a deeply affecting, morally insightful story and offers a rare look inside Brooklyn's Chasidic community

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just a block or two up from the East River on Division Avenue, Surie Eckstein is soon to be a great-grandmother. Her ten children range in age from thirteen to thirty-nine. Her in-laws, postwar immigrants from Romania, live on the first floor of their house. Her daughter Tzila Ruchel lives on the second. She and Yidel, a scribe in such demand that he makes only a few Torah scrolls a year, live on the third. Wed when Surie was sixteen, they have a happy marriage and a full life, and, at the ages of fifty-seven and sixty-two, they are looking forward to some quiet time together.

Into this life of counted blessings comes a surprise. Surie is pregnant. Pregnant at fifty-seven. It is a shock. And at her age, at this stage, it is an aberration, a shift in the proper order of things, and a public display of private life. She feels exposed, ashamed. She is unable to share the news, even with her husband. And so for the first time in her life, she has a secret—a secret that slowly separates her from the community.

Goldie Goldbloom's On Division is an excavation of one woman's life, a story of awakening at middle age, and a thoughtful examination of the dynamics of self and collective identity. It is a steady-eyed look inside insular communities that also celebrates their comforts. It is a rare portrait of a long, happy marriage. And it is an unforgettable new novel from a writer whose imagination is matched only by the depth of her humanity.

About the Author

Goldie Goldbloom’s first novel, The Paperbark Shoe, won the AWP Prize, was named the Literary Novel of the Year by Foreward Magazine and is an NEA Big Reads selection. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and has been the recipient of multiple grants and awards, including fellowships from Warren Wilson, Northwestern University, the Brown Foundation, the City of Chicago and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She is chassidic and the mother of eight children.

Praise For…

"[Goldie] Goldbloom, who is herself Chasidic, writes with great depth of feeling about this close community but also with humor. . . She shows the joy of belonging to a community as well as the feelings of frustration at its strictures. How can a community bind itself together? How can one person ever truly know another? Goldbloom explores complicated questions about community and individuality with humor, wit, and great sensitivity."

"Reader, prepare thyself: you will soon be in Surie’s grip, and she will forever intrigue you with her fierceness and vulnerability, her honesty and self-deception, and her tender, brutal heart filled with both longing and rage. In this achingly suspenseful novel of satisfying psychological depth, Goldie Goldbloom asks what happens when the ones we know most intimately become strangers, and when one of those strangers is oneself.”
—Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men

“Goldie Goldbloom’s Surie is a character at once mythic and deeply human: a wise Chassidic elder in a youthful predicament, freighted by loss, denial, and blossoming hope. On Division is as beautiful as it is unexpected.”
—Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl

On Division is brilliant and beautiful. This book brings the reader into the heart of a close-knit Jewish family and their joys, loves, and sorrows. Goldie Goldbloom shows us the pains of being included and excluded, the delights of tradition, and the difficulties of coming to terms with oneself, of truly knowing one’s own deepest mind. This is a marvelous book by a masterful writer.”
—Audrey Niffenegger, author of Her Fearful Symmetry and The Time Traveler’s Wife

“What a marvel this novel is! Unsentimental, beautifully observed, rich in both joy and heartbreak, this is an indelible portrait of a remarkable woman embedded in a community pulsing with all the feelings and contradictions of a living faith.”
—Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and Archangel

“A fifty-seven-year-old woman—a Chassidic wife and mother and grandmother—is pregnant with twins. Goldie Goldbloom offers us, out of the very specific and often unfamiliar, a woman to be known and loved by every reader. On Division is a novel of wisdom and uncertainty, of love in its greater and lesser forms, and of the struggle between how it should be and how it is. It is impossible not to be moved and surprised by Goldie Goldbloom.”
—Amy Bloom, author of White Houses

“Oh, this book! I feel that I have been waiting for this book all my reading life. Goldie Goldbloom creates a magnificently human woman in Surie Eckstein, unprepossessing, yet heroic in her determination to understand past tragedies, to face her own failings, and to improve. The moral complexities of this Chassidic community, lovingly and critically detailed, spring to life as complexities and challenges for us all, whatever our customs and beliefs. On Division is a triumph, and an essential one at that.”
—Robin Black, author of Life Drawing

“What Evan Connell’s Mrs. Bridge does for a woman in an upper-middle-class community in Kansas in the 1920s, Goldie Goldbloom’s On Division does for a mother in the Chasidic community in present-day Williamsburg. Tracing the life (primarily) of a woman absorbed in and chafing against her world, Goldbloom creates the memorable Surie, living in a community that offers her beauty and connection, while requiring impossible choices. Goldbloom knows Jewish tradition and the world of her characters so well, I felt profoundly educated, even as I was entertained and moved by this knowing, loving, magical novel.”
—Debra Spark, author of Unknown Caller

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374175313
ISBN-10: 0374175314
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: September 17th, 2019
Pages: 288
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