My “Timely” Novel
When I first set out to write Acts of Assumption, back in 2014, I had no intention of producing something “timely.” I had no plan to provide what one Haitian friend called “a much-needed, eye-opening and affectionate introduction to three ‘outsider’ cultures—Jewish, Latina and gay— that are so often misjudged in this country.”
My idea was simply to write a short story about a fervently-Orthodox little boy who finds himself dealing with a very odd affliction.
As things turned out, however, that little boy needed an older sister who could narrate and translate his story to a readership who might not be familiar with “sitting shiva” or ritual circumcisions or mincha ma-ariv prayer services. And no sooner than that sister began taking shape, she began whispering: “I don’t fit in with my family. I’m different. I’m gay. Tell my story.” And then, of course, that sister needed a partner—and that partner turned out to be Latina. And then, whoosh, the novel began taking off in all sorts of new directions—inspired and fueled by my lucky and beloved ties to all three of those “outsider” worlds.
And now, four years later—tragically—we have a white nationalist who opens fire on a Jewish synagogue because Jewish organizations dare to support refugees who are fleeing war and famine. We have a powerful segment of the country shouting for a wall against Latinos and increasing attacks on LGBTQI individuals—and against anyone else deemed to be “other” in a nation that is actually largely comprised of “other.”
So, it seems I have written a “timely” novel.
And—that being the case—I offer the book up with the prayer that it will somehow, in some small way, advance the idea that in every culture (as in every family) there exists both beauty and strengths, difficulties and dysfunction. And that—therefore—it is our duty to try to learn from one another and bear with one another and support one another and try to find our way together.