"Edges O Israel, O Palestine" by Leora Skolkin-Smith, Edited by Grace Paley, A PEN/Faulkner Award Nominee, 2006

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Novelists Oscar Hijuelos and Katharine Weber rave about Leora Skolkin-Smith’s debut novel, Edges, a story set in pre-1967 Israel and Palestine. Narrator Liana Bialik is fourteen years old when her American father’s suicide forces her family to leave their New York suburb and return to her mother’s native Jerusalem. Although tensions simmer beneath the surface of this divided land, Liana’s mother longs to reunite with relatives and the beloved homeland that her family fought for as part of the 1940’s Haganah (the Jewish underground). For Liana, however, the beauty and turmoil of this land becomes a place of sexual and emotional self-discovery. With her young lover, she escapes to live in the Palestinian world beyond Jerusalem’s border. There, she grows away from her intense relationship with her mother into a womanhood formed by the boundary-less spaces of a lost geography and people.

"Edges" takes the reader to an Israel before high walls formed a border, when, instead, metal wires hung "like hosiery lines" across the land. Liana’s coming of age brings this tumultuous region into startling light and relief.

A PEN/Faulkner Award Nominee, "Edges" will be

featured at The Virginia Festival of the Book, 2006. "Edges" was also picked by "The Bloomsbury Review's 25th Anniversary Issue" as a "Favorite Book of the Last 25 Years"

Ms. Skolkin-Smith has received grants from The New York State Council on the Arts, The Department of Cultural affairs, The Millay Colony for the Arts, The Vermont Studio Center, and Art-Without-Walls. She was awarded a Teaching Fellowship for graduate work at Sarah Lawrence College where she holds a BA and MFA in writing.

Reviewers have written:

"Leora Skolkin-Smith's Edges is "sensual, visual," notes Carolyn Howard-Johnson, using a lyrical style to convey the family's "tendency toward secrecy," says Duffie Bart.'

-Blake Eskin, Nextbook

"Edges is an elegantly written, quite moving novel that has a lot to say about love, identity, history and the meaning of nationality. The book is worth reading alone for its superb language, but it is gripping and unforgettable as well in its story telling and evocation of place and emotions. It is a wonderful novel by an author with a quite accomplished voice and style, one well deserving a wide and receptive audience. -Oscar Hijuelos, author of the Pulitzer-prize winning novel, "The Mambo King Sings Songs of Love"

"Edges is an elegant and moving novel. Leora Skolkin-Smith has that rare gift of the writer who can convey the sensibility — the essence of a place and its people — with precision and clarity. A provocative debut."

—Katharine Weber, author of "The Little Women" and "The Music Lesson"

"Where, and how and to whom do we really belong? Skolkin's brilliant debut novel is a hypnotic meditation on the ever-changing boundaries of love and need. A coming of age story of the bond between a young American and her powerful mother, etched in a wartime Mideast as shifting and dangerous and mysterious as the Israeli desert."

—Caroline Leavitt, author of "Girls in Trouble" and "Coming Back to Me"

"... The turmoil both of the girl and her mother is graphically detailed as they struggle to define themselves in the light of a haunted past and present. The poetry of the girl’s sexual awakening ripples through many pages, softening the fierce realities of the conflict between Arab and Jew. The pages evoke as well the memories of a shared land, and the mother’s childhood growing up in an old Jerusalem before the city was separated by physical barriers, the religious, cultural, divide between Arab and Jew easier to bridge. The author’s vivid sense of landscape, her gift for identifying with both mother and daughter, Arab and Jew, gives the novel a unique sense of balance and brings the reader, regardless of political conviction into sympathy with this portrait of a vanished Jerusalem. Edges is a powerful evocation of lost worlds which it is a joy to wander back into."

--Mark Mirsky, writer and founder of Fiction Magazine, and Professor of English at City College of New York. Books include "Diaries: Robert Musil 1899-1942"; "Dante, Eros, and Kabbalah"; "My Search for the Messiah: Studies and Wanderings in Israel and America";" Blue Hill Avenue: A Novel"; "The Red Adam"; and" Absent Shakespeare."


by Leora Skolkin-Smith, Edited by Grace Paley

Glad Day Books                            

June, 2005

ISBN 1-930180-14-4

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