I am so excited to have Sharon Hart-Green visit today and discuss her debut novel, Come Back for Me. I met Sharon on-line when she contacted me about writing a review for her book. I don’t know what lead Sharon to contact me, but I am so happy she did. Come Back for Me is a wonderfully moving novel about the Holocaust set in Hungary, Israel and Canada. It is one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading it. I highly recommend it. So let’s get started.
Synopsis of Come Back for Me: A Novel
Loss, trauma, memory, and the impenetrable ties of family are the elements that weave together Sharon Hart-Green’s panoramic debut novel Come Back for Me (New Jewish Press; 304 pages). Originally published in Canada this past May 30, 2017, the novel is now available in the United States.
Come Back for Me tells the story of two young Jewish characters. One is a Hungarian Holocaust survivor Artur Mandelkorn who’s on a desperate quest to find his beloved sister, Manya, after they become separated during the war. Artur’s journey takes him to Israel where he falls in love with Fanny, a young woman who still bears the scars of her own tragic past. Intersecting Artur’s tale is that of Suzy Kohn, a Toronto teenager whose seemingly tranquil life is shattered by her uncle’s sudden death. As she struggles with her aunt’s growing depression and her parents’ collective secrecy, Suzy gropes for answers to her unanswered questions. At the same time, she is drawn into a troubled relationship with a charismatic young musician. As Suzy’s coming of age story reaches a climax, Artur’s quest for his sister leads to a shocking discovery. Their stories come together in Israel following the Six-Day War, when the reader travels through time and place to arrive, ultimately, to the connections between generations. Like Tatiana de Rosnays’ bestselling novel Sarah’s Key, Sharon Hart-Green’s novel Come Back for Me deals evocatively with the scars left by tragedy and the possibilities for healing.
Inspiration behind writing Come Back for Me
My decision to write Come Back for Me was not entirely a conscious one. Once I sat down to write it, the words seemed to pour out of me. Yet I think that I have probably been preparing myself to write this story for a long time. I had been teaching Yiddish and Hebrew literature at the University of Toronto for many years, and a lot of the novels, stories, and poems I taught were about WWII and its aftermath. But most of those works depicted lives that were deformed by suffering. I wondered: where were the stories of those who were somehow able to rise above their pain?
In fact, I have always been intrigued by the fact that there are individuals who have endured unspeakable horrors in their lives, yet have managed to go on and lead productive lives. Indeed, I grew up among such people in Toronto—Holocaust survivors who went on to build new lives for themselves, despite all their losses. I wanted to write about individuals who seem to be able to transcend their own suffering. What was their secret?
Writers’ Praise for Come Back for Me:
“Evocative and heart-wrenchingly beautiful, Come Back for Me is a must read for anyone with a moral conscience and a soul.” — Leah Kaminsky, winner of the Voss Literary Prize for her debut novel, The Waiting Room
“Sharon Hart-Green writes passionately and intelligently about trauma, history and the true meaning of home. This novel is poignant and compassionate, vividly evoked and deeply satisfying.” —Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans
“This wonderful debut novel, with great sensitivity and tenderness, captures the emotional contours of loss and renewal that haunt the post-Holocaust universe. And even with all the grief that comes from such tales of lives ruptured and recaptured, Hart-Green’s novel is a joy to read.” — Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham, Second Hand Smoke, and Elijah Visible.
Writing with an historian’s luminous clarity and a fictionist’s hard-won freedom to imagine the past, Sharon Hart-Green takes the modern Jewish novel to new heights. — Maxim D. Shrayer, author of Yom Kippur in Amsterdam and Leaving Russia
A Short Bio
Sharon Hart-Green is a Canadian novelist and literary scholar who received her PhD in Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. While teaching Hebrew and Yiddish literature at the University of Toronto, she published two books: Not a Simple Story (Lexington Books) is a study of the work of Hebrew novelist S. Y. Agnon; and Bridging the Divide (Syracuse University Press) is a compilation of her translations of the Hebrew poems of Hava Pinhas-Cohen.
Hart-Green’s debut novel Come Back for Me was chosen as the inaugural fiction offering of The New Jewish Press and was released on May 30, 2017. It is a gripping story of trauma, loss, and the redemptive power of love set in the aftermath of World War II.
In addition, Hart-Green’s short stories, poems, translations, and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The Jewish Quarterly, Writers Digest, The Jewish Review of Books, Midstream, and JewishFiction.net. She is currently at work on a second novel, about the mystical inclinations of a young man in search of love.
Thank you for guest blogging today on Tea Cakes and Whiskey, Sharon. I can’t wait to read your next book! Please come back and tell us about it when it’s finished.
Please leave a comment for Sharon below.