In composing this slim volume of four linked stories, Cherne was inspired by the memories of a friend who, as a child, had fled with her family from Russia during that country’s revolution in 1917. When the book opens, the stories’ protagonist, Devora Marcus, is an elderly widow living in southern California. The first story, “The Conversion,” in which Devora falls briefly under a guru’s spell before reclaiming her Jewish identity, is perhaps the book’s strongest, although some readers may find the intensity of Devora’s bond to the young man who comes to her home to teach her Hebrew as depicted in “A Holocaust in My Breakfast Room” to be the most emotionally powerful and poignant aspect of the work. Occasionally repetitive (as with the disturbing material concerning the rape of Devora’s elder sister back in Russia), Devora in Exile nonetheless draws us in and allows us to get to know a sympathetic character and, with the exception of the brief second piece, offers full and compelling stories.
Erika Dreifus’s latest book, Birthright: Poems, was published by Kelsay Books in November 2019. Her short-story collection Quiet Americans was named an American Library Association/Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. An Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Baruch College of The City University of New York, Erika is deeply engaged with and conversant in contemporary literature, publishing, and Jewish writing. She is also the editor and publisher of The Practicing Writer, a free (and popular) e‑newsletter that features opportunities and resources for fictionists, poets, and writers of creative nonfiction.