Naomi A. Alderman's first novel, Disobedience, was published in 2006 in ten languages and won the Orange Award for New Writers. In 2007, she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and one of Waterstone's 25 Writers for the Future. Her second novel, The Lessons, was published in April 2010. Naomi was lead writer on the BAFTA-shortlisted alternate reality game Perplex City and writes a weekly games column for the Guardian. Naomi Alderman was born in 1974 and was brought up in the Orthodox Jewish community in Hendon, London, where she now lives. She is a graduate of the UEA creative writing course and has published short fiction in a number of anthologies. Disobedience is her first novel.
Alderman draws on her Orthodox Jewish upbringing and current life in Hendon, England, for her entertaining debut, which won the Orange Prize for New Writers after it was published in the U.K. in March. In writing about the inhabitants of this small, gossipy society, Alderman cleverly uses a slightly sinister, omniscient "we" to represent a community that speaks with one voice, and her descriptions of Orthodox customs are richly embroidered. Alternating with this perspective is the first-person narrative of Ronit Krushka, a woman who has left the community and is now a financial analyst in New York. After the death of her estranged father, a powerful rabbi, Ronit returns to England to mourn her father and to confront her past, including a female lover. But Ronit's shock that an Orthodox lesbian would marry a man rings false, as does her casually condescending attitude toward the community. By the time of the theatrical, unrealistic climax, Ronit's struggle between religious and secular imperatives gets reduced to clich? ("all we have, in the end, are the choices we make"), but Ronit works well as a vehicle for the opinion that even the most alienated New York Judaism is preferable to the English version, where "the Jewish fear of being noticed and the natural British reticence interact." (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Funny, tender and insightful * Guardian *
A wonderful novel . . . rich and fresh and fascinating * Sunday Times *
Financial analyst Ronit Krushka, who lives in New York, identifies as lesbian but is seeing a married man. She is also the estranged daughter of a revered London rabbi. This entertaining first novel begins with the death of Rabbi Krushka and Ronit's reluctant return to the Orthodox Jewish enclave of Hendon. "I don't really mind England so much," she concedes. "But the way Jews are here it just makes me want to kick over tables and shout." Unlike their American counterparts, British Jews "must remain more quiet than non-Jews, and women more silent than men." Using two voices, one learned and lyrical, the other colloquial and chatty, Alderman offers a richly detailed look at a closed community. In contrast, the world outside fades to gray, leaving Ronit's secular existence vague at best. Though this novel covers some of the same territory as Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, it breaks new ground by extending equal sympathy to both the rebel and those she left behind. Highly recommended.-Leora Bersohn, doctoral student, Columbia Univ., New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.