Snow in August: A Novel

( 54 )

Overview

Brooklyn, 1947. The war veterans have come home. Jackie Robinson is about to become a Dodger. And in one close-knit working-class neighborhood, an eleven-year-old Irish Catholic boy named Michael Devlin has just made friends with a lonely rabbi from Prague.

Snow in August is the story of that unlikely friendship — and of how the neighborhood reacts to it. For Michael, the rabbi opens a window to ancient learning and lore that rival anything in Captain Marvel. For the rabbi, ...

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Snow in August

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Overview

Brooklyn, 1947. The war veterans have come home. Jackie Robinson is about to become a Dodger. And in one close-knit working-class neighborhood, an eleven-year-old Irish Catholic boy named Michael Devlin has just made friends with a lonely rabbi from Prague.

Snow in August is the story of that unlikely friendship — and of how the neighborhood reacts to it. For Michael, the rabbi opens a window to ancient learning and lore that rival anything in Captain Marvel. For the rabbi, Michael illuminates the everyday mysteries of America, including the strange language of baseball. But like their hero Jackie Robinson, neither can entirely escape from the swirling prejudices of the time. Terrorized by a local gang of anti-Semitic Irish toughs, Michael and the rabbi are caught in an escalating spiral of hate for which there's only one way out — a miracle....

Deeply affecting and wonderfully evocative of old New York, Snow in August is a brilliant fable for our time and all time — and another triumphfor Pete Hamill.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
"Magic....This page-turner of a fable has universal appeal."
Frank McCourt
"A tender novel....When it comes to evoking the sights and sounds of postwar Brooklyn streets Pete Hamill has no peer....When you finish that roller-coaster last chapter you'll wonder if the shade of Isaac Bashevis Singer whispered in his ear."
Oscar Hijuelos
"Strong and soulful-a wonderful addition to a compelling body of work. Few are as good at evoking New York City's life and heart as Pete Hamill."
From the Publisher
"Magic....This page-turner of a fable has universal appeal."—New York Times Book Review

"A tender novel....When it comes to evoking the sights and sounds of postwar Brooklyn streets Pete Hamill has no peer....When you finish that roller-coaster last chapter you'll wonder if the shade of Isaac Bashevis Singer whispered in his ear."—Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes

"Strong and soulful-a wonderful addition to a compelling body of work. Few are as good at evoking New York City's life and heart as Pete Hamill."—Oscar Hijuelos, author of Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316242820
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 61,809
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Pete Hamill is a novelist, journalist, editor, and screenwriter. He is the author of twenty-two books, including the bestselling novels Tabloid City, North River, Forever, and Snow in August, and the bestselling memoir A Drinking Life. He lives in New York City.

Biography

Throughout his colorful career as a writer, New York City has been a constant backdrop and inspiration for Pete Hamill -- from his success at several New York newspapers and magazines to his look back at A Drinking Life to his latest sweeping novel about a man gifted with immortality in the city he calls home: Forever.

Born in Brooklyn in 1935 as the first of seven children to Irish immigrant parents, Hamill attended Catholic schools throughout his childhood. More in tune with the city streets than the schoolroom, he dropped out at 16 to labor in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheet metal worker, and from there signed up with the U.S. Navy, where he was able to eventually complete his high school education. The G.I. Bill of Rights helped him gain admission to Mexico City College in 1956-1957, where he was a student of art and design.

While Hamill fell in love with Mexico (and would eventually come to consider it his second home), his interest in design brought him back to New York to study at Pratt Institute. However, in 1960, he made the fateful career move that would change his life: taking a job as a beat reporter for The New York Post. Hamill's pavement-pounding work made him a crafty chronicler of city life -- from the grimy streets of the crime beat to the chaotic uprisings of the 1960s -- and he graduated to columnist. Soon after, he made the slightly scandalous move to the Post's rival paper, The New York Daily News. Perhaps one of Hamill's most intriguing achievements in New York journalism is the fact that he served as editor-in-chief of both papers -- the city's two most notoriously competitive dailies.

Hamill's nonfiction books have resonated with readers craving more than a few column inches. His 1994 memoir, A Drinking Life, was, as Publishers Weekly noted, "not a jeremiad condemning drink... but a thoughtful, funny, street-smart reflection on its consequences." Turning his attention to other lives, Hamill has also written tributes to idols Frank Sinatra (1998's Why Sinatra Matters) and Mexican painter Diego Rivera (1999's Diego Rivera).

Hamill has also enjoyed critical and commercial success as a fiction writer. His 1997 novel, Snow in August, was an instant New York Times bestseller. On the gritty coming-of-age story, the Times observed, "Mr. Hamill has told versions of this story many times, in fiction and journalism. But in his new novel...Mr. Hamill adds magic. Hamill is not a subtle writer, but his gift for sensual description and his tabloid muscularity fit this page turner of a fable."

2002's Forever brings Hamill's street smarts and near-encyclopedic knowledge of New York City together with his gift for spinning a story. Perhaps his most ambitious work yet, the novel traces the history of Manhattan through the eyes of a man who has watched it unfold for the better part of two centuries -- thanks to an otherworldly wish he is granted. It's likely Hamill's secret wish as well.

Good To Know

Since the 1950s, Hamill has had a keen interest in Mexico and considers it his home away from home. As a reporter, he covered the events in Tlatelolco in 1968, the Olympic Games that followed, and a major earthquake in 1985. For six months in 1986, he served as editor of The Mexico City News.

He is married to Japanese journalist Fukiko Aoki and has two grown daughters -- one a poet, the other a photographer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York, and Cuernavaca, Mexico
    1. Date of Birth:
      1935
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      Mexico City College, 1956-1957; Pratt Institute
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 54 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 3, 2010

    A testimony to the strength of friendship

    Snow in August is about 11-year-old Michael Devlin, an Irish Catholic who becomes friends with an Orthodox Jew, Rabbi Hirsch, a recent immigrant to America. Set in a borough of Brooklyn in 1947, following WWII in which Michael's father gave his life at the Battle of the Bulge and Rabbi Hirsch's beloved wife lost hers in her fight against the fanatical Hitler by trying to organize the Jews to leave for Palestine. Michael teaches Rabbi Hirsch English and American ways and the rabbi teaches the boy Yiddish and tells him stories of Jewish life back in Prague, as well as the mysteries of the Kabbalah. 1947 is the year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, anti-Semitism and the distrust of others not of one's culture or nationality was alive and well in America. A gang of young Irish teens set out to rule the neighborhood by intimidation, feeding on violence and hatred until, through Michael, a powerful force is brought to bear against them. The story of the friendship between the boy and the rabbi is a touching one and I especially enjoyed the interaction between the two. The ending was not as I had imagined and didn't give me the satisfaction the ending I envisioned would have, but, of course, it wasn't my story. Eunice Boeve, author of Ride a Shadowed Trail

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2006

    Not as good as 'Forever' but still great

    This is an amazing book. Pete Hamill has just the magic touch to bring words to life. This isn't as good as his book 'Forever' but it's still an amazing book. It really takes you to back to the 1940s in NYC.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2004

    Great, revealing, fictional book packed with excitement, drama, sadness and history....a real good read

    Sad, happy, historical, cynical, religious, ethnic,fast paced....all packed into this one book....loved it.....could not put it down....

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2003

    Incredibly Marvelous!

    Though it had been lying on my desk for nearly two years when I finally decided to read it; it was a great novel and Pete Hamill is a brilliant author.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2013

    They don't get any better than this!

    When i finishef this remarkable novel I sat spellbound for many many minutes. You just don't want to let go or fade from memory. As an older adult and grandfather i look back on my youth and my confusions and realize that Hamill got it so so right. Beautiful. I have never written to an author but Snow in August makes me wsnt to reach out to the author and simply say Yes...oh yes!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Highly Recommend!

    A great story of of a young boy and the streets of New York in the early 40's. Gangs, Dodger's baseball and a struggling widowed mom during World War Two. The boy finds a friend and life lessons on his way to church in a snowstorm. I couldn't put it down and have recommended it to all of my friends. Luckygram

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2012

    Loved this book, love this author, they have a heartbeat. Loyalt

    Loved this book, love this author, they have a heartbeat. Loyalty, and betrayal, by people we love -and used to love, captured in story with a graininess and humanity reminiscent of , "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." Hamill writes "literature." This baby is happy to have read two Hamill novels (and soon to devour two more).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    One of the best ever

    This is simply ome of the finest novels I've ever read. Highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Beautifully written, takes you to the NY of the 40's, Brooklyn Dodgers, immigrant experiences lovingly described, yet realistic. A good bit of Jewish folklore, linked to Irish folklore. Couldn't put it down (or, couldn't shut off my NOOK!)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Simply Nice

    Simply put, I liked this story--told from an innocent young boy's point of view but with an injection of the sometimes harsh realities that too many children have to face in this world. I was surprised by another reviewer's comment that Catholics were shown in a predominantly negative light, because--as a Catholic--I was pleasantly surprised that most were shown positively. I kept waiting for the pedophile priest or the "jew-hating" rhetoric, but, while there was no attempt to deny that such behaviors exist, most people in general in the story were shown to be tolerant and decent to one another. Sure, fear of retribution from bullies and gangs kept people quiet, but that is something most every person can identify with. I picked this book up at the library when I took out another Pete Hamill book--Forever--and in both cases, enjoyed the element of faith/hope/magic/sense of wonder that played a major role. Yeah, he spent a lot of time on baseball, which didn't interest me, but not so much that I lost interest in the bigger story. I'll look for more from this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2010

    Simply amazing

    I read this book about a year ago, and looking back on it now I can still remember every detail. It was amazing, worth every penny. If you enjoyed this book, I highly recommend Pete Hamill's Forever.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Story ~ Great Characters ~ Highly Recommend

    This is the first Pete Hamill book I have read and I will be reading more of his collection. Great story with excellent character development that keeps your interest to the very last page. The descriptions of New York during the depression are intriguing for this baby boomer. This would be a great choice for a book club ~ highly recommend this book and it would make a nice gift/stocking stuffer for anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    Great Read

    Courage, determination, understanding, tolerance and inttolerance.
    what a better world we would have without bullies, who truly are lonely, and lost and have only their cruelty to others, to give them power and a place in society.

    A simple act of kindness brings a lifetime of learning and friendship.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!

    Any book by Pete Hamill is worth reading, but this one was especially humanistic. Pete Hamill has such an elegant writing style that I was immediately hooked. The characters are as real as the city itself and the plot was unique with a lemon twist. Read it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A great New York story

    This book transported me into the magical world of New York neighborhoods with all of the charm and stumbling blocks thrown in with a mixture of childhood and fear.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2003

    Excellent and powerful read

    This book was wonderful, powerful, moving and illustrates how people of different religious backrounds can build warm and loving relationships, find common ground to build on and in spite of different traditions are really more alike than different. I must strongly disagree with the writer who urges how unbelievable the friendship here was. I was raised Catholic but of late I have been attending services at a Jewish synagogue. I must say four rabbis and many Jewish members there have embraced me & my family and welcomed us so warmly to services, events, & classes. They do in fact teach me Hebrew and welcomed my daughter into Hebrew classes. This book really hit home for me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2003

    Too Good of a book!!!

    Snow in August was an awesome book!! I definitely enjoyed this one! (I finished it in a day)This was excellent! I wish more books were like this one! Schools usually pick bad summer reading books, but this one was brilliant! There is no bad part of this book! Rock on Pete Hamill!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2003

    Fantastic!

    I fell in love with Pete Hamill when I read his book 'Forever'....which was also a fantastic book! I think I'd have to say that Snow in August was the best book I've read in a long time! I felt like I was there...it made me laugh and cry...I'd love to see a movie made out of this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2003

    Enchanting

    What a great story! I was entertained, I learned something and would recommend this book to my 11 year old grandson. Although, many subjects were covered, they were woven together in such a way that they were easy to follow.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2002

    Excellent Story

    This is a very good book to read. When i first opened it i looked at the great reviews;and was skeptical to whether they were as good as they said. After finishing the book in a week i was very pleased. I recommend this book to teen readers as well as adults. It's combines faith, hope, despair and change in less than a year in the eyes of a child.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews

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