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Traveling in steerage to Ellis Island, the family endures the poverty and dirt of New York City and retreats to a farm in southern New Jersey--to find not the agricultural Eden they were promised, but Babylon. Told in several voices, this...
Traveling in steerage to Ellis Island, the family endures the poverty and dirt of New York City and retreats to a farm in southern New Jersey--to find not the agricultural Eden they were promised, but Babylon. Told in several voices, this tale bears witness to a new generation learning to find hope in a land that often sacrifices human decency for profit and greed.
Posted June 8, 2010
This novel traces the diaspora of eastern European immigrants to the U.S. eastern seaboard from their squalid voyage to Ellis Island to their residence in rat-infested apartments in the Bronx to their transfer to supposedly utopian agricultural communities in New Jersey. The protagonists, a family of Cohens, are distinctly drawn: a reflective, bibliophilic, non-working father; a manipulative mother who maneuvers her son into marrying the inane daughter of a wealthy businessman; the son's affairs with an American Indian prostitute and a neighboring Polish Catholic girl who becomes pregnant and dies from complications of an illegal abortion performed sub rosa by a physician; the son's criminal friends who avenge his bigoted neighbors' refusal to assist a drowning black fisherman after his canoe tipped over. As in all of Paul M. Levitt's novels, the characters are memorably drawn, convincingly motivated, and inextricably intertwined.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.