A kooky, quirky, cheeky US debut.
Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable eleven-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her father, Saul, absorbed in his study of mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer mother, Miriam. But when Eliza discovers an aptitude for competitive spelling, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, he ushers her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks on a lone quest for spiritual fulfilment that leads him to the Hare Krishna. And when the unveiling of Miriam’s secret life triggers an almighty explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.
Not merely a coming-of-age story, Myla Goldberg's first novel delicately examines the unravelling fabric of one family. The outcome of this tale is as startling and unconventional as her prose, which wields its metaphors sharply and rings with maturity. The work of a lyrical and gifted storyteller, ‘Bee Season’ marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented American writer.
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In Myla Goldberg's outstanding first novel, a family is shaken apart by a small but unexpected shift in the prospects of one of its members. When nine-year-old Eliza Naumann, an otherwise indifferent student, takes first prize in her school spelling bee, it is as if rays of light have begun to emanate from her head. Eliza's father, Saul, a scholar and cantor, had long since given up expecting sparks of brilliance on her part but once she wins the state-wide bee, he begins tutoring her for the national competition, devoting to Eliza the hours he once spent with her brother Aaron.
His daughter flowers under his care, eventually coming to look at life "in alphabetical terms". "Consonants are the camels of language", she realises, "proudly carrying their lingual loads". Vowels, however, are a different species, the fish that flash and glisten in the watery depths. Vowels are elastic and inconstant, fickle and unfaithful... Before the bee, Eliza had been a consonant, slow and unsurprising. With her bee success, she has entered vowelhood.
When Saul sees the state of transcendence that she effortlessly achieves in competition, he encourages his daughter to explore the mystical states that have eluded him--the influx of God-knowledge (shefa) described by the Kabbalist Abraham Abulafia. Although Saul has little idea what he has set in motion, "even the sound of Abulafia's name sets off music in her head. A-bu-la-fi-a. It's magic, the open sesame that unblocked the path to her father and then to language itself".
Meanwhile, stunned by his father's defection, Aaron begins a troubling religious quest. Eliza's brainy, compulsive mother is also unmoored by her success. The reader is left wondering what would have happened if the Naumanns' spiritual thirsts had not been set in restless motion. A poignant and exceptionally well crafted tale, Bee Season has a slow beginning but a tour-de-force conclusion. --Regina MarlerReview:
‘A natural storyteller, Goldberg writes with a confidence that eclipses the fact that this is her debut novel. Deceptively simple prose cushions sparkling metaphors and pushes the plot towards its devastating, yet beautiful, climax.’ The Times
‘A totally beguiling debut novel…Goldberg’s prose is witty and quirkily observant.’ Elle
‘Excellent…strikingly different.’ Observer
‘Truly original.’ Red
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Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780007113316 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0983266
Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007113315
Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 288 pages. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # zk0007113315