Author(s): Cynthia Ozick
It is the stories upon which Cynthia Ozick's literary reputation rests. She writes about bitterness, cruelty and compulsion with brutal acuity and tenderness. She has created a timeless collection in which Greek mythology, superstition and the religious and cultural experience of the Jewish diaspora in America collide. The Pagan Rabbi is seduced by a tree sprite after seeing his daughter rescued from drowning by a water sprite. Such ecstasy is not permitted to mortals and so the scholar must die. He hangs himself with his prayer shawl as he watches the strangely beautiful nymph decay. In Envy, a Yiddish poet who watches the success of a contemporary, becomes very like a character in an I.B. Singer story entrapped by his anguish and haunted by the memory of a child. In the Doctor's Wife, the most gentle of the stories, a poor doctor not unlike Chekhov endures family life in which he is adored by his three sisters and oppressed by his family obligations. In these stories, we see Ozick defining herself and her literary territory. The stories may be read purely as evocations of Jewish experience, where time seems to have by-passed these characters.
In the Butterfly and the Traffic Light, Jerusalem is seen upon a hill as only it can be in legend, and America is said not to have cities scarred by battles. This is a dazzling collection of short stories by an internationally celebrated novelist.
Cynthia Ozick was one of 17 writers listed for the new Man Booker International Prize This paperback edition will contain a new story, Dictation 'A cause for celebration in the world of literature. Here we have a heroine to love, a story we can't let go of, of gorgeous sentences, and ideas to wrestle with. I didn't just read this book, I devoured it.' - Ann Patchett on The Bear Boy 'Fierce, concentrated, and brutal, the Shawl burns itself into the reader's imagination with almost surreal power.' - The New York Times
Cynthia Ozick's essays, novels and short stories have won numerous prizes and awards; The Puttermesser Papers was a finalist for the National Book Award and Quarrel & Quandry was a finalist for the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. She lives in the New York City area.