by Ruth Gilligan - £8.99 Atlantic Books (2017)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781782398592 | ISBN 10: 1782398597
1901. Cork can sound very similar to New York to foreign ears and tired brains, so it’s no surprise that Ruth’s family – Jewish refugees fleeing the European pogroms – mistakenly disembark from their boat to America a few stops and a few countries too soon. Still, her father can spin a story like pure silk, so surely Ireland’s just a layover till he writes his great play and they can continue their journey west.
1958. He’s still not spoken. It’s been years since Shem was struck mute at his bar mitzvah, forcing his mother to hand him over to the care of Catholic nuns. There aren’t too many of his kind in Ireland let alone in the sanatorium, so it’s a lonely existence, but at least his secret is safely locked up in his mouth and kept behind closed doors, where it can never hurt the one person he loves.
2013. Aisling came to London to escape the Irish recession and concentrate on her career, not to fall in love with a part-time magician. She would marry him in a heartbeat, if only his family didn’t insist that the ceremony should be performed by a rabbi. Unsure whether to give up her own heritage for some else’s, Aisling looks to the past – from a rootless girl who never saw America to an outcast boy who never spoke again – to see if she can decide on her future.
(Price & availability last checked: May 2017)
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In booklists: Fiction and Poetry: Immigration, Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Fiction - Irish Writers (and novels set in Ireland), Writers by Surname - G, In categories: Fiction, Anti-Racism, Poetry & Writing, Ireland, Scotland & Wales,