September 1, 2021

In this sear­ing new vol­ume, Lynn Mel­nick dives head-first through con­cen­tric waves of per­son­al and gen­er­a­tional trau­ma with her trade­mark fear less­ness. Evinc­ing a com­plex mind shaped by the late 20th century’s mis­placed pri­or­i­ties, Refusenik inter­ro­gates misog­y­ny and anti­semitism across time and a shift­ing glob­al land­scape — from a foot­ball field in Los Ange­les to a Russ­ian shtetl to a beloved daughter’s Brook­lyn bed­room. Var­i­ous­ly unrav­el­ing and allow­ing for intri­cate tan­gles of anger, nos­tal­gia and love, these agile poems fur­row deep­er into the ter­rain of Melnick’s much-cel­e­brat­ed ear­li­er titles, arriv­ing at a pro­found and pres­sured under­stand­ing of what it means to be a con­tem­po­rary American.

Discussion Questions

Lynn Melnick’s Refusenik is a Jew­ish fem­i­nist tour de force. Relent­less in her will to go on despite all of the forces that would sup­press her, Mel­nick inter­ro­gates the gaze of patri­archy, anti­semitism, and racism, all the while main­tain­ing a nuanced self-aware­ness of the unavoid­able lim­i­ta­tions of her own speak­ing sub­ject. In the ten­sion between the silenc­ing forces of vio­lence and trau­ma and the speaker’s tenac­i­ty, wit, and can­dor, we are bar­reled through this tri­umphant new col­lec­tion. This is a book you’ll devour quick­ly, then read again and again. Its wis­dom is quick­sil­ver, its real­iza­tions nec­es­sary in our cur­rent moment so fraught with hatred. Melnick’s most pow­er­ful work to date, Refusenik is a book that refus­es to be denied.