City of Laughter (Hardcover)
A rich and riveting debut spanning four generations of Eastern European Jewish women bound by blood, half-hidden secrets, and the fantastical visitation of a shapeshifting stranger over the course of 100 years
An ambitious, delirious novel that tangles with queerness, spirituality, and generational silence, City of Laughter announces Temim Fruchter as a fresh and assured new literary voice. The tale of a young queer woman stuck in a thicket of generational secrets, the novel follows her back to her family's origins, where ancestral clues begin to reveal a lineage both haunted and shaped by desire.
Ropshitz, Poland, was once known as the City of Laughter. As this story opens, an 18th century badchan, a holy jester whose job is to make wedding guests laugh, receives a visitation from a mysterious stranger--bringing the laughter the people of Ropshitz desperately need, and triggering a sequence of events that will reverberate across the coming century. In the present day, Shiva Margolin, recovering from the heartbreak of her first big queer love and grieving the death of her beloved father, struggles to connect with her guarded mother, who spends most of her time at the local funeral home. A student of Jewish folklore, Shiva seizes an opportunity to visit Poland, hoping her family's mysteries will make more sense if she walks in the footsteps of her great-grandmother Mira, about whom no one speaks. What she finds will make her question not only her past and her future, but also her present.
Electric and sharply intimate, City of Laughter zigzags between our universe and a tapestry of real and invented Jewish folklore, asking how far we can travel from the stories that have raised us without leaving them behind.
Mass Center for the Book 2023 Reading Challenge
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