"...her characters are full and deep, brimming with pathos and eccentricity. And while the traumatic legacy of the Holocaust is well-traversed terrain, Sivan forges a refreshingly original path of her own." Kirkus
Make it Concrete
Isabel Toledo’s publisher is getting impatient. An American living in the Galilee, Isabel has been telling other people's stories for twenty years – as a ghostwriter for Holocaust survivors. But her latest project has bogged her down in a way no other has. Barking dogs, a clerk asking for her papers, a shadowy figure glimpsed in the streets of Prague. The stories are slipping out of her control, collapsing boundaries between past and present.
Isabel has two grown daughters and a seven-year-old son to keep her grounded. She has an official boyfriend who wants to be more than that, a young lover who understands her demons, and another man on the side in Prague. But the temporary relief she finds in their arms is not enough to keep the ghosts at bay.
And the story she most wants to uncover, her own mother’s ordeal, defies all efforts to be brought to light. Why won’t her mother share her story? Why has her father’s story, which was never even on Isabel’s radar, inserted itself unwanted into her life? Isabel wants concrete realities. She needs to slam the brakes on using the Holocaust as her measuring stick in the world.
SNAFU & Other Stories
A traumatized American living on a kibbutz is drawn to a stray dog. An artist meets her lover during a missile attack. A pregnant woman consumed by the legacy of her grandparents’ generation sits shiva with Kafka’s grandson. From New York City to Haifa and Tel Aviv, from Afghanistan to the Galilee, Miryam Sivan presents a dozen stories of women and men experiencing cross-cultural pollination and coping with the very serious business of war and love. History, dogs, obsession, religion, and the lost promise of romance weave their way through tales of mad partners, passionate lovers, wearied fighters, and folk just trying to make it through.
"An extraordinary maelstrom of mind and sensation." Cynthia Ozick
"Haunting portraits of ex-pats at the intersection of history, sex, and war." Dorit Rabinyan
"She is brilliant on the eternal dance between men and women, tender on animals, and thoughtful and reflective on the challenges facing Israel today... This is a collection to savor from an author to watch."
Yona Zeldis McDonough
Belonging too Well:
Portraits of Identity in
Cynthia Ozick's Fiction
In Belonging Too Well, Miriam Sivan draws on contemporary literary theory as well as traditional Jewish texts and culture to explore the question of identity in Cynthia Ozick’s fiction. Many critics have pointed to a split in Ozick’s work between Judaic and secular culture and values. Sivan suggests, however, that Ozick never settles for a simple either/or dichotomy between traditional Judaism and secular American culture, but that her protagonists instead fashion new means of living genuinely Jewish lives within the American Diaspora. Often they struggle not with not belonging to either the Old or the New Worlds, but of belonging too well to both. Part of a recent trend toward analyzing Jewish American literature in the context of a deep encounter with and understanding of Judaism and traditional Jewish texts, Sivan’s study enables readers of Ozick’s fiction to penetrate the complex webs she creates among cultures, time periods, and characters, some quite sober, others fantastic, all unusual.