A family is torn apart by fierce belief and private longing in this unprecedented journey deep inside the most insular sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar.
Opening in 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Christian maid to be raised as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman's daughter, Atara. With the rise of communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live. Mila's faith intensifies, while her beloved sister Atara discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide, I Am Forbidden announces the arrival of an extraordinarily gifted new voice and opens a startling window on a world closed to most of us.
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ANOUK MARKOVITS was raised in France. She attended a religious seminary in lieu of high school. After she left home at the age of nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage, she attended Columbia University's School of General Studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. She has a Masters degree in architecture from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Romance studies from Cornell. Her first novel, Pur Coton, written in French, was published by Gallimard.Review:
“Markovits makes her stamp on the literary world with an ambitious, religiously-centered debut. This ambitious, revelatory novel richly rewards your efforts and heralds a promising new writer.”
“Anouk Markovits’s I Am Forbidden contrasts the fates of a Hasidic family’s two daughters, one who breaks with tradition to pursue a life of intellectual and emotional freedom, the other who cleaves to convention only to find her childless marriage is leading her to consider a course of action that falls well outside her religious beliefs.”
─Megan O’Grady, Vogue
“[A] story of miraculous happenings...Tracing the Stern family from Transylvania to Paris and Brooklyn, [Markovits] focuses on daughter Atara and adopted daughter Mila, closer than close, until Atara wants more than the Satmar world can offer. Markovits plays fair: the believers are not stupid; their harsh world has beauty. We dwellers in the modern world know what “should” happen, but Markovits shows why, for those in the other world, it’s not that simple.”
─Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A lyrical novel about obedience, rebellion and tragedy by an author who grew up in the Hasidic community she writes about.”
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