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Joan Leegant'S BOOKS

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Coming June 2024 from New American Press

Winner of the New American Fiction Prize

Set half in Israel and half in the States, the stories in this prize-winning collection explore the experience of exile, belonging, and what it means to call a place home. A visiting professor from Boston forms an unlikely bond with an Israeli born in Iraq. Two teenage tourists are startled out of their naiveté in a restaurant in Jerusalem’s Old City. A gifted yeshiva student spiraling into mental illness takes refuge in the poetry of Walt Whitman. An aged widower returns after sixty years to the Bronx neighborhood of his youth to make amends with a first love he abandoned to go to prison. Shimmering with insight and compassion, DISPLACED PERSONS is a profound, exquisite collection that illuminates pivotal moments of transition, longing, and hope.

"Displaced Persons is a stunning collection of literary excellence. Each story tackles the enormous questions of the human experience and is masterfully rendered in beautiful, affecting prose."
— Weike Wang, author of Chemistry and Joan is Okay

"These stories are somehow both tender and tough: while never sentimental, they have a clear-eyed vision of those who have been displaced, unhoused, and dispossessed. Though often wry and witty, they recognize the cost of anybody's personal history--Israeli, Jewish American, European--and who must pay when the bill comes due. Joan Leegant writes eloquently about families, and she has a genius for portraying children and young adults. This book is beautiful and wonderfully readable. I loved it.”
— Charles Baxter, author of The Feast of Love

“Whether writing about Americans in Israel, or closer to home, Joan Leegant’s people are all caught up in fascinating circumstances that cause them to rethink the world and their place in it. These stories are beautifully written, wise, and thought provoking— the kind you read more than once.”
--Alice Elliott Dark, author of Fellowship Point

"Joan Leegant’s stories of women and men grappling with displacement (sometimes in their own homes) shimmer with wit and compassion. Few writers see so deeply into their characters’ lives. Prepare to feel a shock of recognition.”  
-- Dawn Raffel, author of Boundless as the Sky

"With all the wit, wisdom, and sexy humor of Malamud and Paley at their best, Leegant leads us through the cockeyed complexities of contemporary Jewish life in Israel and America. Who is displaced and who at home? What makes a family a family? You will find yourself thinking about these elegant, heartbreakingly true stories for a very long time ... and recommending them to all your friends.”
--Eileen Pollack, author of Mabye It’s Me: On Being the Wrong Kind of Woman

"What does it mean to be unsettled, to be neither here nor there? This is the question that animates Joan Leegant’s uncannily sharp-eyed story collection Displaced Persons; caught between cultures, generations, geographies, and realities, her protagonists stumble into danger and emerge with desperate insight. The ground underneath this phenomenal book is both unsteady—moving in every sense of the word—and richly fertile.
--David Ebenbach, author of Miss Portland

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A gripping and prophetic novel about the lengths to which we will go in the name of a cause.

Yona Stern has traveled from New York to Israel to make amends with an estranged sister. A respected Jerusalem Talmud teacher, Mark Greenglass was once a drug dealer saved by an eleventh-hour turn to Orthodox Judaism. Aaron Blinder is year-abroad drop-out with a history of failure whose famous father mines the Holocaust for his best-selling melodramatic novels. In a sweeping, beautifully written story, Joan Leegant weaves together three lives caught in the grip of a volatile and demanding faith. Emotionally wrenching and unmistakably timely, WHEREVER YOU GO shines a light on Jewish extremist groups and their threat to the modern democratic state. This is a stunningly prescient novel.

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"Timely and brave...with rare insight and mesmerizing detail." Miami Herald

“A gripping story about the interplay between politics and religion.”  Reform Judaism

“A small masterpiece.” Association of Jewish Libraries

“A cautionary tale about the danger of a narrow ideology.” Times Literary Supplement

“Alternatingly heartwarming and heartbreaking. An achingly beautiful book.” The Reporter

"Those who seek politically charged stories brought to a human level, such as the work of Barbara Kingsolver, will not be disappointed." Library Journal

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Winner of the PEN/New England Book Award

Winner of the Wallant Award for Jewish Fiction

Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award

A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick

Taking its title from the Yiddish proverb “Even an hour in Paradise is worthwhile,” Joan Leegant’s startling debut features ten outstandingly original stories that mine the Jewish tradition with an edge.  Provocative and off-beat, poignant and comic, in settings from Jerusalem to Queens, from the outskirts of Hollywood to Sarasota, Florida, AN HOUR IN PARADISE gives us characters who soldier on, despite the odds, in search of divine and human connection. 

"Reading AN HOUR IN PARADISE is like watching a procession of modern-day Jewish pilgrims in a medieval tapestry: seekers captured in the act of seeking." New York Times Book Review  

“Dazzles with humanity and other-worldliness.” Jerusalem Report

“Leegant is as skilled at conveying a virgin’s tingling sexual curiosity as she is at portraying an old man’s grappling with the mystery of miracles.” Booklist

"An empathic, gifted creator of people and worlds." Publishers Weekly

“Fans of Allegra Goodman, Nathan Englander, even the magical exuberance of Jonathan Safran Foer will greet this collection warmly.” Miami Herald  

"One wants to shout out the word that a new, very talented writer has arrived." New Jersey Jewish News

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