A funny and moving first novel of nostalgia for Catskills hotel life
Paradise, New York
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Philadelphia Book Clinic Certificate of Award, 1999
We first meet Lucy Appelbaum, the heroine of Paradise, New York, in 1970, as a nine-year-old girl enjoying her family's Catskills hotel, the Garden of Eden. Ten years later, having found nothing else at which she can distinguish herself, Lucy tries to save the Eden by capitalizing on a wave of nostalgia for the Borscht Belt and running the hotel as a sort of living museum of Yiddish culture.
In the course of the season, Lucy battles her grandmother's attempts to sabotage Lucy's success, her parents' superstitious fears of anything that attracts attention to the Jews, and her brother's contention that what Lucy is doing is more a matter of ego than authentic religious feeling.
Paradise, New York explores the comforts and complexities of American ethnic identity with a charming commitment to laughter and love.
"...a stark and precise depiction of the psychological and cultural states of American Jewry, a narrative challenge that Pollack meets with legend, parable, sociology, history and old-fashioned storytelling."
"Pollack's first novel succeeds...in taking on such large themes as racism and bigotry, love and loyalty
"This first novel of 'the last Catskills resort' nearly bursts off the page. Eileen Pollack's characters crack wise, work hard, make loving trouble for one another, and then, as soon as they've got us laughing, they move on and break hearts. Eileen Pollack is a marvelous writer; and Paradise, New York is a sharply observed and poignant novel about the dangers of nostalgia and the willfulness of time."