Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just Published: All Other Nights

Dara Horn All Other Nights,published by W.W. Norton Publishing. She has written In The Image, and The World To Come. Her two previous novels,first. In Her Image received a 2003 National Jewish Book Award, and the 2003 Reform Judaism Fiction Prize. Her second novel, The World to Come, published by W.W. Norton in January 2006, received the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2007 Harold U. Ribalow Prize, this award is given by the Jewish organization, Hadassah.
She was selected as an Editor's Choice in The New York Times Book Review.

For the Jewish people every year we open our Haggaddah at the Seder table. Why is this night different from all other nights?, the youngest child asks. We will be opening our Haggadot on April 7th, Wednesday at sun down. The Haggadot is to re-read the history of when the Jewish people were in bondage in Egypt.

All Other Nights, I have not read yet. But it is related in some way to the south and the Civil War. I became very excited because there are not many books written in the Civil War about Jews.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy and I will be posting soon hopefully during Passover. I am assuming it has something to do with the holiday.
All her books have some metaphorical significance, and symbolism. That is why I am excited to read this as soon as I receive a copy. Thank you Amy and Erica.

This was copied from Dara Horn's website:

How is tonight different from all other nights? For Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, it is a question his commanders have already answered for him -- on Passover, 1862, he is ordered to murder his own uncle in New Orleans, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After this harrowing mission, Jacob is recruited to pursue another enemy agent, the daughter of a Virginia family friend. But this time, his assignment isn’t to murder the spy, but to marry her. Their marriage, with its riveting and horrifying consequences, reveals the deep divisions that still haunt American life today.

Based on real personalities like Judah Benjamin, the Confederacy’s Jewish Secretary of State and spymaster, and on historical facts and events ranging from an African-American spy network to the dramatic self-destruction of the city of Richmond, All Other Nights is a gripping and suspenseful story of men and women driven to the extreme limits of loyalty and betrayal. It is also a brilliant parable of the rift in America that lingers a century and a half later: between those who value family and tradition first, and those dedicated, at any cost, to social and racial justice for all.

The author's website has a wealth of information. This would be a great book for the Jewish Book Challenge I am participating in. Thank you again Amy.

I usually don't post questions on my blog. I love the idea of American History intertwined from the Jewish bible. Not sure how it will play out, but like the story line. Forgive my enthusiasm. Have you ever felt the enthusiasm for a book. Was the book what you expected? Or were your expectations too high? What was the last book you felt like this to?

Questions | Also by this Author

Discussion Questions

1. The title of this novel, All Other Nights, is in the author’s view also a question: Are we the same people from one night to the next? If not, how are we accountable for our actions in the past? And if so, how is it possible to change?
2. Jacob is twice presented with opportunities to potentially save President Lincoln’s life, each time at great personal cost. Does he do the right thing?
3. How do the themes of escape and freedom from bondage (as celebrated in the Passover feast) play out in the book?
4. What is the role of deception in the novel? What are the different motivations for deception, and can any of them be good? What are the consequences, both for the deceiver and for the deceived?
5. Palindromes have a playful role in the book among the spy sisters’ secret codes, but do they also play a serious one? Many events in the book are repeated (an encounter in a cemetery, a prisoner’s unexpected release, a choice regarding a spouse), but with different outcomes. Is there a way in which the book itself can be read as a palindrome? What might this pattern suggest about the characters’ control over their circumstances?
6. Theater and performance come up many times in the novel—including Jeannie’s stage acts, Edwin Booth’s portrayal of Brutus in Julius Caesar, and Jacob’s role as a secret agent. There is also an element of performance in Judah Benjamin’s detachment and courier John Surratt’s swagger, among many other characters. Are there any characters in the book whose motivations are completely pure? What is the price of honesty for the people in this novel? Is it possible to be true to oneself when one is forced to choose a side?
7. Slavery plays an important thematic role in the novel, both explicitly in the circumstances of African Americans at the time of the Civil War as well as in other forms of interpersonal exploitation. How are people bought and sold in the book, and what form does freedom take?
8. Relationships between parents and children are pivotal to the story in All Other Nights, particularly for the fathers of Jacob and Jeannie. What do these two fathers—one an immigrant and the other the son of one—reveal about their priorities and dreams for their children? [not sure what the last part of this meant – how can there be “levels” of devotion? Seems more rhetorical than an actual question….]
9. What is ultimately more important in this novel: family values or a search for self?
10. The author has suggested that historical fiction tends to address the time in which it is written much more than it addresses the past. Do you see parallels between the conflicts presented in this book and conflicts in American life today? How would you describe them? Which side are you on, and can you say anything good about the other side?
11. What makes someone an American in this novel? Is it birth? Ancestry? Ownership of property? Personal freedoms? The respect of others? What is patriotism for these characters?
12. Where do Jacob’s loyalties lie, and is it possible to rank them in order? Where are your own deepest loyalties? Is there a difference between your loyalties as an individual and your loyalties as a member of an ethnic, religious, regional, national, or other kind of group? What do you do when they clash?
13. What do you think most deserves our personal loyalty? Our collective loyalty?
14. What does it mean to be able to say no?

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