The Pale of Settlement

  • Review
By – November 15, 2011
These short sto­ries mean­der through time, back three gen­er­a­tions, from a daugh­ter to her moth­er to her mother’s moth­er, and back again. Susan, the Amer­i­can daugh­ter of Israeli par­ents, strug­gles between cul­tures in the process of look­ing for her­self — the same chal­lenge under­tak­en by her moth­er as a young mar­ried emi­grant in Amer­i­ca and by her grand­moth­er as a pio­neer in the new­ly estab­lished State of Israel after the Holo­caust. Singer explores each woman through her rela­tion­ships, those that per­sist and those that fail, those that change and those that nev­er even begin. Indeed, every sto­ry tells us a truth per­son­al yet uni­ver­sal, rel­e­vant, and last­ing.

A win­ner of the Flan­nery O’Connor Award for Short Fic­tion, Singer writes clear­ly, suc­cinct­ly, and effec­tive­ly. The char­ac­ters are believ­able, and the sto­ries uplift­ing but real­is­tic. Mod­ern issues — ter­ror­ism and the sec­ond Lebanon war — intrude, but do not over­whelm, a tes­ta­ment to Singer’s skill and artistry. Note.
Rachel Sara Rosen­thal is an envi­ron­men­tal attor­ney in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Orig­i­nal­ly from Greens­boro, North Car­oli­na, she grad­u­at­ed from Duke Uni­ver­si­ty in 2003 and Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty School of Law in 2006.

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