By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
Ice Cube Press, 2018
ISBN: 9781888160970, $21.99, 586 Pages (including recipes).
In this modern day retelling of the Exodus, Miriam wanders the political and spiritual desert of a changing America, torn between her roots as the Jewish daughter of a Black father and white mother, her yearning for home, and her brothers Aaron and Moses.
Beginning in the middle of the 1965 New York City blackout, when stuck in the pitch-black subway somewhere in the East River, Miriam’s family encounters a mysterious rabbi, who persuades the family to go to Israel where the family is caught in the 6-Day War. The losses from the war break apart the family, scattering Moses to western Kansas to live with evangelical Christians, Aaron to New York City to practice corporate law, and Miriam all over America.
An astonishing cook and singer, Miriam has a knack for showing up to feed and help people at at landmark events, including People’s Park during the Summer of Love, the Wounded Knee encampment in South Dakota, the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, the Oklahoma City terrorist attack, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina. As she seeks the promised land, she shows her people, and eventually herself, how to turn the chaos and despair of our times into music, meals, and miracles. The novel also includes over 35 pages of real recipes from the fictional cooking Miriam does throughout the book.
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s retelling of Exodus is a sprawling tapestry, woven of all the threads of a modern-day Miriam’s ancestors, and her own present and future. From the Badagry Point of No Return and a sukkah in the Sinai Desert to a series of camps, communes, and cafes all across America, Miriam’s Well delves into the mystery of how we find our place in the world, within our families, even within ourselves." ~ Bryn Greenwood, New York Times bestselling author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
"I fell in love with Miriam’s wisdom and her sweet engagements with the people she meets along her lush and vibrant travels. I was plunged to the depths of her nightmares, soared with her song, and emerged blessed to have made the journey with her. Miriam’s Well is the latest terrific book by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg." ~ Jocelyn Cullity, author of Amah & the Silk-Winged Pigeons
"The vibrantly moving and compelling storytelling is immediate, intimate, and resounding; bringing us into a complex weaving of tales, told and untold, from the Biblical epic to the painful legacy of United States, which frame the story of one brave woman with an inexhaustible well of caring. Daughter, sister, lover, neighbor, friend, mother, Miriam is one extraordinary ordinary woman whose life is emblematic of our absolutely interdependent web of relationships, physical and metaphysical, over the seasons of a lifetime and the histories of our own time. The work is big hearted, embracing, and wonderfully embodies love’s plenty and the power and the beauty of the story, the song, the telling, to remember and transform us." ~ Gale Jackson, author of Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a Woman: Song, Dance, Black History and Poetics in Performance
"Miriam’s Well is a page-turner that gently pulls the reader into the heroine’s quest while also chronicling the country’s cultural revolutions, gastronomic recipes, political causes, women’s communes, spirituality, the AIDS crisis, Oklahoma and Twin Tower terrorist attacks. A compelling writer, Mirriam-Goldberg captures a quintessential American story, its multitude of nations, of immigrants and indigenes, in the quest towards a meaningful national identity." ~ Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka, Professor of Theatre, and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Kansas
"This startlingly insightful and quietly confrontational novel by poet Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg courageously inserts the biblical prophet Miriam into many of the most daunting and provocative ethical conflicts since the early 60’s civil rights revolution, as though we are Israel after the Exodus from slavery and before the Promised Land. Mirriam-Goldberg’s story calls on readers to consider “Have I done enough?” and “'What is it that the Lord requires of you?' Do yourself a favor and share it with friends." ~ Rabbi Mark H. Levin, author of Praying the Bible
"Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg brings back the charged days of the 1970’s revolutions and their aftermath in the decades to come in her novel Miriam’s Well. For those of us who lived through those times, the book is a reminder of their importance.” ~ Thomas Pecore Weso, author of Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir.
By Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
Ice Cube Press, 2012. Paperback. Available at Ice Cube Press.
To get a signed copy from Caryn, please send $24 (book + shipping)
through Venmo at Caryn-Goldberg-2 and email Caryn your mailing address.
Meet Deborah Shapiro, a New Jersey teenage photographer whose parents’ outrageous divorce lands her in the biggest flea market in the free world, a Greek diner with immigration issues, a New York City taxi company, a radical suburban synagogue, a hippie-owned boutique, bowling alleys, beaches, and bagel shops. As her home explodes, a first love, a series of almost-mothers, and a comical collection of eccentric mentors show Deborah how to make art out of a life, and life from the wreckage of a broken home. This coming of age story illuminates how a daring heart can turn a broken girl into a woman strong enough to craft a life of art, soul, and beauty.
"Beyond being a terrific read, The Divorce Girl teaches us life’s important spiritual lessons; that pain can inspire creativity and that art and creativity is the best antidote to despair."~ Harriet Lerner, author of The Marriage Rules and The Dance of Anger
"A savvy and generous-hearted book, rich and gritty and wise. There have been many well-intentioned but formulaic takes on what it is to be a child of divorce, but this unique and fearless novel, beautifully written by poet Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, is fresh and unpredictable, pulsing with its young protagonist’s wit, determination, and courage as she journeys through painful and frightening times, transporting herself by sheer force of will from a shattered world to a world made whole through self-determination and the saving grace of art." ~ Patricia Traxler, author of Blood and Forbidden Words
"The Divorce Girl itself is…..wickedly, subversively funny. In fact, in its open-minded view of Jewish culture and knowledge of how children ultimately discover the stealth of their parents, I dare say that this is the novel Mordecai Richler would have written had he born a girl. Richler had the Boy Wonder in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz; Mirriam-Goldberg has Boy in The Divorce Girl. In case you don’t know, this is as high a praise as I can offer a novelist….This is likely the choicest read you’ll open this year. I loved it. — Hubert O’Hearn, Herald de Paris
"When her family explodes, Deborah shuts down. Her world shrinks to what she sees through her camera’s viewfinder. As she focuses on images she creates, her life emerges, filled with possibilities beyond bruises, beyond self-destruction. Art creates for her a life she could not imagine in any other way. The Divorce Girl is a visionary novel, a powerful story of pain and healing." ~Peggy Shumaker, Alaska State Writer Laureate, and author of Just Breathe Normally
"The Divorce Girl is as smart and funny as its teenage protagonist, whose struggles to make sense of the chaos into which her family descends will keep you riveted. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg delivers a story that is poignant yet sharp, timeless yet fresh. Her characters come alive on the page, real as our own parents and siblings and assortment of other zany relatives. This is a book that will make you care about them all." ~ Katherine Towler, author of the Snow Island Trilogy
"Divorce can often send children into turmoil. The Divorce Girl is a novel set in the 1970s; Deborah Shapiro copes with her parents splitting in her teenage years by seeing a whole broad stroke of the world and its many curious characters through it all. A coming of age tale with a strong dose of humor all throughout, The Divorce Girl is a must for fiction collections, not to be missed." ~ Midwest Book Review