by LEORA SKOLKIN-SMITH
In the summer of 1963, fourteen year old American teenager Liana travels to Jerusalem, accompanied by her older sister and her larger than life mother. The trip takes her from the sheltered life of an East Coast suburb to the hot, bustling and thoroughly confusing landscape of the Middle East, where Jewish and Arab cultures exist side by side in an uneasy truce…
Leora Skolkin-Smith celebrated novel Edges is now in preproduction as a Feature Film, The Fragile Mistress, from Triboro Pictures. In anticipation of the film, Hamilton Stone Editions has published a revised and expanded version of the novel, containing yet unpublished chapters and text, added to the original. More info here.
PRAISE FOR EDGES
“In Edges Leora Skolkin-Smith skillfully tells the story of a girl of fourteen in the wake of her father’s suicide, brought abruptly by her distraught mother from a comfortable suburban Westchester to the harsh terrain of a young State of Israel. The girl is caught in the maelstrom of political claims between Israel and a West Bank, still part of the Kingdom of Jordan. 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.
“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 Pulitzer-prize winning novel, The Mambo King Sings Songs of Love
“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
“Edges takes the reader to an Israel before the high walls formed, a border, when instead metal wires hung like “hosiery lines” across the land…Here, Skolkin-Smith’s young heroine tries to shake off her father’s suicide and her mother’s mourning by making an escape with the missing son of an American diplomat…Skolkin-Smith, in clear, burnished prose, fuses personal and political rifts into an exhilirating debut novel.”
–Philip Graham, Director, Creative Writing Program,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
“…. Leora Skolkin-Smith’s new novel, Edges: O Israel O Palestine (is) about the adventures of an adolescent girl in Israel in the early ’60s. Her character’s mother had grown up in British Mandate Palestine, one of several factors making the memory bank of this book so rich — appropriate for a place with almost too much history to bear and retain one’s sanity at the same time.
What is most memorable to me is 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 in a thin, rocky, brilliantly bright corridor too rarely shaded by old gray-green olive trees.
Perhaps above all, the novel, told with restraint and poetic precision, is about how we shoulder on (and wing it) under the weight of history — family and public.
– Robert Whitcomb, Providence Journal