On Division: A Novel

On Division: A Novel

by Goldie Goldbloom


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“A novel of wisdom and uncertainty, of love in its greater and lesser forms, and of the struggle between how it should be and how it is. It is impossible not to be moved.”

—Amy Bloom, author of White Houses

"This book brings the reader into the heart of a close-knit Jewish family and their joys, loves, and sorrows . . . A marvelous book by a masterful writer.”

—Audrey Niffenegger, author of Her Fearful Symmetry and The Time Traveler’s Wife

"As beautiful as it is unexpected.”

—Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl

Through one woman's life at a moment of surprising change, the award-winning author Goldie Goldbloom tells a deeply affecting, morally insightful story and offers a rare look inside Brooklyn's Chasidic community

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, just a block or two up from the East River on Division Avenue, Surie Eckstein is soon to be a great-grandmother. Her ten children range in age from thirteen to thirty-nine. Her in-laws, postwar immigrants from Romania, live on the first floor of their house. Her daughter Tzila Ruchel lives on the second. She and Yidel, a scribe in such demand that he makes only a few Torah scrolls a year, live on the third. Wed when Surie was sixteen, they have a happy marriage and a full life, and, at the ages of fifty-seven and sixty-two, they are looking forward to some quiet time together.

Into this life of counted blessings comes a surprise. Surie is pregnant. Pregnant at fifty-seven. It is a shock. And at her age, at this stage, it is an aberration, a shift in the proper order of things, and a public display of private life. She feels exposed, ashamed. She is unable to share the news, even with her husband. And so for the first time in her life, she has a secret—a secret that slowly separates her from the community.

Goldie Goldbloom's On Division is an excavation of one woman's life, a story of awakening at middle age, and a thoughtful examination of the dynamics of self and collective identity. It is a steady-eyed look inside insular communities that also celebrates their comforts. It is a rare portrait of a long, happy marriage. And it is an unforgettable new novel from a writer whose imagination is matched only by the depth of her humanity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374175313
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 155,528
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Goldie Goldbloom’s first novel, The Paperbark Shoe, won the AWP Prize and is an NEA Big Reads selection. She was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and has been the recipient of multiple grants and awards, including fellowships from Warren Wilson, Northwestern University, the Brown Foundation, the City of Chicago and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She is chassidic and the mother of eight children.

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On Division: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
BettyTaylor 3 months ago
This book provided an in-depth look at life within the insular Chassidic community. However, the third person perspective left me feeling no connection to the characters. I think I would have preferred a first person perspective for this story. Surie, at the age of 57, is pregnant with twins. She already has 32 grandchildren. She fears for her family’s reputation. None of her peers have been pregnant within the past decade. Ashamed, she begins lying to her husband for the first time in their marriage. She and her children will be shunned if others find out about her pregnancy. I couldn’t really connect with Surie’s feelings given the narrative was an observation. This book is good for people who have an interest in learning about the lives of the Chassid. Goldblum presents their lives in a very respectful manner, revealing the positives of such a close-knit community along with its negatives.
Rachel_Denise01 3 months ago
On Division by Goldie Goldbloom is a fabulous religious-themed literary fiction piece. This novel is focussed mainly on Surie- a grandmother (soon to be great-grandmother), mother, wife, and fixture of her Chasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklynn. Surie, much to the shock and horror she thinks, finds out that she is pregnant with twins. This life-altering, seismic revelation shocks her to her core and brings up fundamental questions that she realizes were there all along during the 40ish years she has been married to her gentle Yidel. This “awakening” and the aftershocks that occur afterwards is where this author takes the reader. Being a part of something so personal and so raw feels like you are looking into your own soul, and maybe you are. The struggles that she and Yidel face, in some form or another, we all face no matter what religion or geographical location we inhabit. The imagery of the location and the descriptions of the raw emotions that the author paints for the reader are stunning. I truly enjoyed this book, and honestly wished it could have been twice as long. Truly amazing read. 5/5 stars.