The Hotel Neversink

  • Review
By – January 15, 2019

Goth­ic lit­er­a­ture — with its depic­tions of doomed aris­to­crats and cen­turies-old fam­i­ly estates — is pre­dom­i­nant­ly non-Jew­ish. In The Hotel Nev­ersink (whose plot as well as title car­ry shades of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Ush­er”), Adam O’Fallon Price upends the tropes of the genre by plac­ing them in an intrin­si­cal­ly Jew­ish set­ting: the Catskills.

Here, we are intro­duced to Foley’s Fol­ly,” a man­sion built at the turn of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry by an eccen­tric tycoon — and bought by a Jew­ish immi­grant, Ash­er Lev­em Siko­rsky, who turns it into a hotel. In vignettes from dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters’ points of view, we fol­low the descent of the once grand build­ing into ruin.

As in tra­di­tion­al Goth­ic lit­er­a­ture, the threat of the uncan­ny lingers through­out the nov­el. But O’Fallon Price also mas­ter­ful­ly evokes his­tor­i­cal detail, and this blend of sen­sa­tion­al­ism and real­ism allows him to ques­tion the class and gen­der assump­tions that under­pin Goth­ic fic­tion — as well as Jews’ place in lit­er­ary gen­res usu­al­ly closed off to them.

—From the intro­duc­tion to an excerpt of The Hotel Nev­ersink in the 2019 Paper Brigade. Read the excerpt here.

Bec­ca Kan­tor is the edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and its annu­al print lit­er­ary jour­nal, Paper Brigade. She received a BA in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and an MA in cre­ative writ­ing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of East Anglia. Bec­ca was award­ed a Ful­bright fel­low­ship to spend a year in Esto­nia writ­ing and study­ing the coun­try’s Jew­ish his­to­ry. She lives in Brooklyn.

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