Light Fell

Light Fell

4.8 5
by Evan Fallenberg

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Awarded the 2009 Stonewall Prize for Fiction, the first and most enduring award for GLBT books, sponsored by the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table.

Twenty years have passed since Joseph left behind his entire life—his wife Rebecca, his five sons, his father, and the religious Israeli farming community…  See more details below


Awarded the 2009 Stonewall Prize for Fiction, the first and most enduring award for GLBT books, sponsored by the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Round Table.

Twenty years have passed since Joseph left behind his entire life—his wife Rebecca, his five sons, his father, and the religious Israeli farming community where he grew up—when he fell in love with a man, the genius rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig. Their affair is long over, but its echoes continue to reverberate through the lives of Joseph, Rebecca, and their sons in ways that none of them could have predicted.

Now, for his fiftieth birthday, Joseph is preparing to have his five sons and the daughter-in-law he has never met spend the Sabbath with him in the Tel Aviv penthouse that he shares with a man—who is conveniently out of town that weekend. This will be the first time Joseph and all his sons will be together in nearly two decades.

The boys’ lives have taken widely varying paths. While some have become extremely religious, another is completely cosmopolitan and secular, and their feelings toward their father range from acceptance to bitter resentment. As they prepare for this reunion, Joseph, his sons, and even Rebecca, must confront what was, what is, and what could have been.

Evan Fallenberg is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and has since 1985 lived in Israel, where he is a writer, teacher, and translator. His recent translations include novels by Batya Gur and Meir Shalev. He is a graduate of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Vermont College MFA program. He is the father of two sons.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When literature professor Joseph Licht invites his five adult sons to celebrate his 50th birthday in 1996 Tel Aviv, he hopes to win his boys' love and forgiveness by plying them with their favorite foods. From that opening in Fallenberg's ambitious debut, Joseph's life unfolds in retrospect: 20 years earlier, as a married father of five, Joseph discovers he is gay as he falls in love with a charismatic, and married, rabbi. The rabbi kills himself not long after he and Joseph start their affair, and a crushed Joseph, in one fell swoop, jettisons his marriage and adherence to Modern Orthodox Judaism. The familial repercussions are myriad and extreme, leaving Joseph's wife bereft and his sons with issues that range from low self-esteem and lack of trust to fanatical nationalism and religiosity. While Joseph and the rabbi's lovemaking is sentimentalized, and Joseph's and one son's homosexual awakenings seem abrupt, Fallenberg's descriptions of Israeli life, from the rural and academic arenas to the gay milieu, are credible and absorbing. The book adroitly sketches the heartfelt struggles of a sympathetic cast. (Jan.)

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Library Journal

Fallenberg (creative writing, Bar-Ilan Univ., Israel), who has translated the works of several renowned Israeli authors, presents his first novel, which takes place in 1996 Tel Aviv on the eve of literature professor Joseph Licht's 50th birthday. As Joseph prepares to reunite with his five sons for the first time in 20 years since he left their mother for a prominent male rabbi, flashbacks enlighten us as to the circumstances of his choice as well as to the characters of his sons, who serve as a bizarre microcosm of Israeli society, ranging from the completely secular to the ultra-Orthodox. After so much buildup, the denouement feels somewhat rushed, and several characters are little more than stereotypes. But Joseph's story, in which he eventually realizes his desires, is a compelling one. Recommended for general fiction collections.
—Alicia Korenman

Kirkus Reviews
Love between men-fathers and sons, as well as lovers-binds a sensitive first novel of family reconciliation. Israeli academic Joseph Licht, married with five sons, is shocked to encounter a kindred soul when he meets "young Torah genius" Rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig. The intensity of their love affair compels Licht to forsake his wife Rebecca and their children at the moshav and move to a small apartment in Tel Aviv. But almost immediately Yoel commits suicide. These facts are 20 years in the past when the book opens, on Licht's 50th birthday, as he prepares a meal to which his five sons are invited, coming together for the first time in two decades. Licht has weathered many difficult years since Yoel's death, finally finding happiness with rich Pepe, a crude (but loving) hedonist, in contrast with Yoel's eloquent intellectualism. The father's departure affected his sons differently-Ethan, the army officer, learned to take responsibility early, while Gideon, the ultra-Orthodox Jew, rejects his father's homosexuality as the sin of all sins. After the elaborate meal, Licht unburdens himself, offering the boys his side of the story. Angry eldest son Daniel counters with his account of saving Rebecca from a suicide attempt. But the next day brings a confession, a paternal reprimand, a long-lost suicide note and finally a frank conversation with Daniel that reopens the door to Licht's role in his family's life. Intelligent craftsmanship confined within a theatrical, excessively tidy format.

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Light Fell 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and was drawn in from page one. Evan Fallenberg's writing is so beautiful, articulate and descriptive. This particular parent must choose between his happiness and what is best for his children. This is a dilemna that all parents face at some point. I highly recommend this book - very thought provoking.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1996 in Tel Aviv, literature professor Joseph Licht hopes to reconnect with his five adult sons as he desperately needs their forgiveness. Twenty years ago he deserted them and their mother when he realized he loved married male Rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig Joseph was unaware that he was gay until that moment, but soon after he and his rabbi began their affair until a guilt wracked Yoel killed himself. Stunned by his loss, a grieving Joseph ended his marriage to Rebecca and his relationship with their five offspring. He also no longer practiced Judaism after three decades as an Orthodox Jew. Now he invites his children to join him on his fiftieth birthday although he is unsure they will come for each of them has major emotional problems that he knows he caused by what he did to them two decades ago when they were young.----------------------- Readers will feel empathy towards the five sons although their range of issues seems to run the gamut. Life in many aspects of Israel comes across very deep as the audience is taken to locales where the Licht family live to include the Negev, the university, the kibbutz and a small gay enclave. Although the look back to the Joseph-Yoel tryst is seen through a fond schmaltzy nostalgic lens even by the sons rather than a nuke that destroyed two families, readers will enjoy this deep family drama of a disdained patriarch trying to reconnect with the now adult children he deserted.-------------- Harriet Klausner