A story of long-estranged kinfolk brought together by shared histories of their immigration out of Russia.
“…the vivid events and rich details of the intricate story are compelling and
important—immigrants like the Kolopskys helped make America into the land readers recognize today (Israel, too).”
"As Artson lovingly shakes the family tree easily relatable relatives fall out that readers will fall in love with. A visual writer, she creates scenes worthy of a movie adaptation. Steven Spielberg, are you listening?"
—Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle, Senior Movie Correspondent
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Barbara Artson's epic novel follows the fates and families of two sons from a proud lineage of rabbis and cantors in a shtetl near Odessa in western Russia.
It begins as Henya, wife of Rabbi Mendel Kolopsky, considers her unexpected pregnancy and the hardship for the children they already have. One night after the baby is born, Cossacks ransack their home, severely beating Mendel. In the aftermath, he remembers arguments with his older brother Shimshon about escaping the anti-Jewish pogroms. Shimshon did leave, vowing to support the socialist movement. Mendel started a family, keeping faith and upholding tradition. As the night ends, Mendel tells Henya he now believes going to America is the answer. Henya only knows that their future will be perilous—their infant daughter has slept through the melee and is surely deaf. So unfolds the story of one family in the Russian migration of the early 20th century.
Odessa, Odessa explores every emigrant’s fear: What future is possible if I leave my country? What if I leave without family? It is a harrowing tale of love, faith and tradition, revealing how the mysterious ties that hold a family together can help them survive the heartache of separation and loss, and how secrets about heritage can finally be uncovered.
"A story with an evocative echo of biblical sibling rivalry—we enjoy decades of an immigrant family and a revelation when American sisters travel to Israel to meet a distant cousin and share histories that propelled their long-estranged kinfolk through time and tumult."
—Belle Elving, Writer, Development at National Public Radio
"This well researched novel brings alive a century of time from the world of Jews in a small village in eastern Europe, to the teeming streets of Brooklyn, to the bedroom communities of New Jersey and finally to modern day Israel. Odessa, Odessa is a moving testimony to the complicated legacy of trauma born of genocidal persecution, skillfully told through the interweaving lives of a very human, relatable family."
—Barbara Stark-Nemon, author of Even in Darkness
"Artson vividly evokes the immigrant experience of coming through Ellis island and trying to create a new life in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. A poignant story, full of unforgettable characters and rich historical details."
—Barbara Ridley, author of When It’s Over
"Barbara Artson's novel speaks to the human spirit, and to its resilience and courage under oppression…a story from 100 years ago, Odessa, Odessa is a haunting reminder of the struggles endured by refugees—even in the twenty-first century."
—Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressive, and author of Revolutionary
"This story of family exodus into the wider world illuminates both the cultural and political freedoms and constraints that shape and re-shape the quiet dignity of ordinary and striving lives."
—Sandra Butler, co-author of It Never Ends: Mothering Middle-Aged Daughters
"A vivid historical novel written by a seasoned writer who takes us through the highs and lows—tragedy and triumphs—of an unforgettable three-generation immigrant Jewish family in the throes of their journey from Russia to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles. We are offered a rich cast of characters that keeps us engaged until the unexpected, tearful, but optimistic and poignant ending."
—Dr. Linda Tucker, Bestselling Author of At a Crossroads, Finding the Right Psychotherapist
"Artson’s mastery over the details and nuances of the lives she creates, and her sense of the history that surrounds them, show her to be a writer of depth and sensitivity."
—Melanie Sperling, Professor Emerita, University of California, Riverside
"While the current debate around immigration fills the airwaves of public discourse, this passionately and artfully told tale reminds us of the courage of people who leave their past, their families, their culture and their lives behind for the hope and promise of a new world, the America that was, and remains, a beacon of freedom, opportunity and hope to dreamers world-wide."
—Frederick R. Levick, CEO, Ramah Darom