Post­ed by Nao­mi Firestone-Teeter

The great Leslie Epstein’s newest nov­el, Liebestod: Opera Buf­fa with Leib Gold­ko­rn, was pub­lished by W. W. Nor­ton in February.


A mul­ti­lay­ered mas­ter­piece of fevered imag­i­na­tion and eroti­cism, Liebestod soars as the con­sum­mate work by one of Amer­i­ca’s great­est com­ic geniuses.

As hilar­i­ous as it is heart­break­ing, Liebestod returns us to Leslie Epstein’s most com­pelling lit­er­ary char­ac­ter, that Euro­pean émi­gré and mea­ger­ly suc­cess­ful musi­cian, Leib Gold­ko­rn, whose final years as a randy cen­te­nar­i­an in New York City end in one of the most mem­o­rable swan songs in recent fic­tion. Invit­ed back to his home­town in Moravia, Leib dis­cov­ers that his father is not a hops mag­nate but actu­al­ly one of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry’s great­est com­posers, Gus­tav Mahler. Return­ing to New York with a bevy of rab­bini­cal cousins, Leib, now besot­ted by a world-famed diva, is deter­mined to bring to the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera Rubezahl, the only opera his real father ever wrote. Yet the much-her­ald­ed pre­mière turns into a fias­co of unimag­in­able pro­por­tions, all breath­tak­ing­ly relayed by a stunned news­pa­per cor­re­spon­dent who sur­vives to report on this mon­u­men­tal dis­as­ter. With Liebestod, Epstein once again illu­mi­nates the mys­tery of our com­mon human­i­ty and mor­tal­i­ty” (New York Times).

Orig­i­nal­ly from Lan­cast­er, Penn­syl­va­nia, Nao­mi is the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil. She grad­u­at­ed from Emory Uni­ver­si­ty with degrees in Eng­lish and Art His­to­ry and, in addi­tion, stud­ied at Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege Lon­don. Pri­or to her role as exec­u­tive direc­tor, Nao­mi served as the found­ing edi­tor of the JBC web­site and blog and man­ag­ing edi­tor of Jew­ish Book World. In addi­tion, she has over­seen JBC’s dig­i­tal ini­tia­tives, and also devel­oped the JBC’s Vis­it­ing Scribe series and Unpack­ing the Book: Jew­ish Writ­ers in Conversation.