Award-Winning Novel, 'Edges, O Israel, O Palestine'

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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 Barish 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. 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.

Glad Day Books is very pleased to announce that "Edges, O Israel, O Palestine" by Leora Skolkin-Smith has been awarded a stipend from the PEN/Faulkner Foundation's Writers-in-the-Schools.

"Edges" is set in a pre-1967 Israel, during the Cold War. Characters are drawn from Israel’s long-forgotten past, members of the 1940’s Haganah and Jewish underground who find themselves displaced amidst the chaotic and complex tensions of an Israel just beginning to modernize and expand.

"'Edges' is a dark and penetrating look at pre-1967 Israel and Palestine through the eyes of a 14 year old Liana Bialik. After her American father's suicide, Liana's Jerusalem-born mother decides to take Liana and her sister back to her homeland, where her family had lived for four generations. Once they get to Israel Liana, who feels overwhelmed and suffocated by her mother, begins to detach herself from her. She embarks on a mission of self-discovery to learn why her mother does not speak about her father and why he took his own life. Edges is well-written, powerful in both imagery and subject matter..."

-- Jewish Book World, Spring 2006

Vol. 24, Number 1

Grace Paley writes: "'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 Barish is fourteen years old when the suicide of her American father forces her mother, mourning, in despair back to her family -- to Jerusalem where she grew up. For Liana it is the place where the powerful interdependence of mother and daughter -- physical and spiritual -- ends. It is the place of her sexual awakening."

Katharine Weber, book critic and author of "Triangle, The Little Women, The Music Lesson, And Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear" raves: "'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."

Caroline Leavitt, columnist at "The Boston Globe" and author of "Girls in Trouble" writes: "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."

"Edges" is a novel "told with restraint and poetic precision," Robert Whitcomb at "The Providence Journal" has written "...memorable (for the) the sense of place that Ms. Skolkin-Smith has achieved -- the sunny and scary Jerusalem and countryside -- and the hope, love, hate and fatalism of the groups, Palestinian and Israeli, living amongst and apart from each other..."

Oscar Hijuelos, author of the Pulitzer-prize winning novel, "The Mambo Kings Sing Songs of Love," has called "Edges," "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."

"EDGES, O Israel O Palestine"

by Leora Skolkin-Smith

Glad Day Books

ISBN 1-930180-14-4
Represented by Russell and Volkening Literary Agency

"EDGES: O Israel O Palestine" was selected by Grace Paley and edited for "Glad Day Books."

"Edges" was nominated for the 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award and The PEN/Ernest Hemingway Award by Grace Paley.

Awarded a Stipend from the Pen/Faulkner Foundation

A National Women Studies Association Conference Selection

“Bloomsbury Review” Pick, 2006: “Favorite Books of the Last 25 Years”

A Jewish Book Council Selection, 2005

Featured at The Virginia Festival of the Book, 2006.

Ms. Skolkin-Smith has received grants from The New York State Council on the Arts, The Department of Cultural affairs, and P.E.N. American Center. She was awarded a Teaching Fellowship for graduate work at Sarah Lawrence College where she holds a BA and MFA in writing.

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