Marching to Zion: A Novel

Overview

The tempestuous, tragic love story of a beautiful Jewish immigrant and a charismatic black man during the early twentieth century 

Mags Preacher, a young black woman with a dream, arrives in St. Louis from the piney woods of her family home in 1916, hoping to learn the beauty trade. She knows nothing about Jews except that they killed the Lord Jesus Christ. Then she begins working for Mr. Fishbein, an Eastern European émigré who fled the ...

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Marching to Zion

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Overview

The tempestuous, tragic love story of a beautiful Jewish immigrant and a charismatic black man during the early twentieth century 

Mags Preacher, a young black woman with a dream, arrives in St. Louis from the piney woods of her family home in 1916, hoping to learn the beauty trade. She knows nothing about Jews except that they killed the Lord Jesus Christ. Then she begins working for Mr. Fishbein, an Eastern European émigré who fled the pogroms that shattered his life to become the proprietor of Fishbein’s Funeral Home. By the time he saves Mags from certain death during the 1917 race riots in East St. Louis, all her perceptions have changed. But Mr. Fishbein’s daughter, the troubled redheaded beauty Minerva, is a different matter. There is something wrong with the girl, something dangerous, something fateful. And it is Magnus Bailey, Mags’s first friend in the city, who learns to what heights and depths the girl’s willful spirit can drive a man.
 
Marching to Zion is the tragic story of Minerva Fishbein and Magnus Bailey, a charismatic black man and the longtime business partner of Minerva’s father. From the brutal riots of East St. Louis to Memphis, Tennessee, during the 1920s and the Depression, Marching to Zion is a tale of passion, betrayal, and redemption during an era in America when interracial love could not go unpunished. Readers of Mary Glickman’s One More River will celebrate the return of Aurora Mae Stanton, who joins a cast of vibrant new characters in this tense and compelling Southern-Jewish novel that examines the price of love and the interventions of fate.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/16/2013
In her third novel chronicling the experience of Jews in the South, Glickman (National Jewish Book Award Finalist for One More River) captures the untamed Midwest of the 1920s and ’30s, when the Mississippi offered an escape route and unleashed biblical wrath in the form of horrific floods. She follows the stories of two young upstarts: Mags Preacher, a plucky black girl bent on making it as a beautician in St. Louis, and Magnus Bailey, the first person Mags meets in the big city—a dapper, smooth-talking black man who is in love with Minerva, the adopted daughter of a Jewish man named Fishbein, who runs the funeral home where Mags finds work. Glickman puts Minnie and Magnus’s love affair through trial after trial: “They hurtled along a primrose path strewn with brambles sharp as arrow tips, studded with insurmountable boulders, crisscrossed by poisoned streams.” In describing their downfall, she eventually focuses on the glimmering citadel of Eretz Israel and Zion as a paradise of tolerance—“a solution to all our troubles,” Fishbein says. But religion isn’t the only thing that stirs Glickman to fervor: she writes in a high-drama, no-holds-barred style when it comes to romance. The result is a preachy yet entertaining novel about sins of the flesh and the redemptive power of belief. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

“This moving novel . . . handled with credibility by the talented Glickman . . . is sustained by the rich period detail and by strong and fully realized characters.” —Booklist

“Coincidence or not, the publication of Marching to Zion on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of The March on Washington is a powerful reminder of the discrimi­nation and unspeakable hardships African Americans suffered. . . . Marching to Zion is a memorable story, with a very clear message that the journey is not over.” —Jewish Book Council

“Readers who are interested in Southern historical novels examining black-white relationships and those who enjoy good storytelling are the natural audience here.” —Library Journal

“Religion isn’t the only thing that stirs Glickman to fervor: she writes in a high-drama, no-holds-barred style when it comes to romance. . . . [An] entertaining novel about sins of the flesh and the redemptive power of belief.” —Publishers Weekly

“Glickman skillfully conveys the struggles of African-Americans and Jews during this era.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A powerful tale of love, hatred, violence, hope, and regeneration. At its center, lives entwined, are a black man and a Jewish refugee, each as staunch and tenacious as the Zion they both seek.” —Sonia Taitz, author of The Watchmaker’s Daughter

“A literary triumph, and easily the best novel I have read this year. Mary Glickman’s story of hope burns brightly through the darkness, driven by characters fighting to maintain dignity above all else.” —Sandi Krawchenko Altner, author of Ravenscraig

“Mary Glickman gives us a nuanced image of our twentieth-century selves, our society woven into stunning art. I see the Mississippi floods, the Jewish and African American dance of interconnection, and ultimately our paired journey toward Zion.” —Carolivia Herron, author of Thereafter Johnnie and Nappy Hair

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
Characters are kicked to the side of the road with little afterthought in Glickman's (One More River, 2011, etc.) tale of forbidden love and intolerance, set in the South during the early 1900s. When Mags Preacher arrives in St. Louis in 1916, the young black woman dreams of one day owning a beauty shop. Armed with a $10 loan and directions to a boardinghouse, she finds work in Fishbein's Funeral Home, which caters to black customers and seems to be a good, if unusual, place to learn her trade. Mags' hours are spent preparing bodies in the basement beside George McCallum, the manager, whom she marries after a brief courtship. The funeral home was once owned by George's relatives but was sold to a Jewish émigré whose disturbed daughter, Minerva "Minnie" Fishbein, witnessed the massacre of her biological family during anti-Semitic pogroms in Eastern Europe. Magnus Bailey, a handsome black dandy who made the original loan to Mags, is Fishbein's business partner and good friend, and he also happens to be the object of Minnie's affection. Affected by extreme acts of racism, Fishbein sells the business and leaves St. Louis. Mags, who has a newborn daughter by this time, is dropped off at her cousin's home and, after being the central character in the narrative for more than a quarter of the book, pretty much becomes a nonentity. With nary a backward glance, the others travel to Memphis and take center stage. Acutely aware that an interracial relationship can only spell disaster, Magnus lies to Minnie and flees the area, and Minnie tries to follow him. Her journey results in a pivotal experience that affects the course of her life and convinces Magnus that he must take responsibility for their future. (He disappears and works for years in menial jobs before returning to Minnie.) Glickman skillfully conveys the struggles of African-Americans and Jews during this era, but the love story between Magnus and Minnie lacks credibility and emotion. The author abandons the most relatable character in the narrative to focus on a weaker, less interesting--and in many ways, more predictable--story.
Library Journal
10/15/2013
In this fast-paced novel, the fortunes of the Jewish Fishbein family, who fled the Eastern European pogroms, and Magnus Bailey, an African American wheeler-dealer who becomes Mr. Fishbein's business partner, are linked over 20 years. As the protagonists move from St. Louis to Memphis, everywhere there are race riots, poverty caused by floods, and economic depression. The unacceptable love between Mr. Fishbein's daughter Minerva and Magnus is the trigger that forces confrontations, lies, robbery, rape, and even murders in Glickman's (Home in the Morning; One More River) third examination of the confluence of relationships between Southern Jews and their African American neighbors. VERDICT National Jewish Book Award finalist Glickman employs the same storytelling technique that she used in her previous books by moving rapidly in time from one character's point of view and from one location to another. Although certain characters from those earlier works play roles in her new narrative, this is definitely a stand-alone title. Readers who are interested in Southern historical novels examining black-white relationships and those who enjoy good storytelling are the natural audience here.—Andrea Kempf, formerly with Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480435629
  • Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
  • Publication date: 11/12/2013
  • Pages: 262
  • Sales rank: 672,637
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Born on the south shore of Boston, Mary Glickman studied at the Université de Lyon and Boston University. While she was raised in a strict Irish-Polish Catholic family, from an early age Glickman felt an affinity toward Judaism and converted to the faith when she married. After living in Boston for twenty years, she and her husband traveled to South Carolina and discovered a love for all things Southern. Glickman now lives in Seabrook Island, South Carolina, with her husband, cat, and until recently, her beloved horse, King of Harts, of blessed memory. Home in the Morning is her first novel. Her second novel, One More River, was a 2011 Jewish Book Award Finalist in Fiction.

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Interviews & Essays

·       Quality women’s fiction readers
·       Southern fiction enthusiasts
·       Jewish book clubs and organizations (JCC, Hadassah, etc.)·       Historical fiction fans 

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