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THE LAKE ON FIRE


The Lake on Fire is an epic narrative that begins among 19th century Jewish immigrants on a failing Wisconsin farm. Dazzled by lore of the American dream, Chaya and her strange, brilliant, young brother Asher stow away to Chicago; what they discover there, however, is a Gilded Age as empty a façade as the beautiful Columbian Exposition luring thousands to Lake Michigan’s shore. The pair scrapes together a meager living–Chaya in a cigar factory; Asher, roaming the city and stealing books and jewelry to share with the poor, until they find different paths of escape.

An examination of family,

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The Lake on Fire is an epic narrative that begins among 19th century Jewish immigrants on a failing Wisconsin farm. Dazzled by lore of the American dream, Chaya and her strange, brilliant, young brother Asher stow away to Chicago; what they discover there, however, is a Gilded Age as empty a façade as the beautiful Columbian Exposition luring thousands to Lake Michigan’s shore. The pair scrapes together a meager living–Chaya in a cigar factory; Asher, roaming the city and stealing books and jewelry to share with the poor, until they find different paths of escape.

An examination of family, love, and revolution, this profound tale resonates eerily with today’s current events and tumultuous social landscape. The Lake on Fire is robust, gleaming, and grimy all at once, proving that celebrated author Rosellen Brown is back with a story as luminous as ever.

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  • Sarabande
  • Paperback
  • October 2018
  • 320 Pages
  • 9781946448231

Buy the Book

$17.95

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About Rosellen Brown

rosellen-brownRosellen Brown is the author of the novels Civil Wars, Half a Heart, Tender Mercies, Before and After, and six other books. Her stories have appeared frequently in O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories and Best Short Stories of the Century. She now teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and lives in Mr. Obama’s neighborhood, overlooking Lake Michigan.

Praise

Entertainment Weekly, “Fall preview: The 20 books you need to read this season”
Newsday, “What to read this week”
The National Book Review, “5 Hot Books”

“Often praised for her prose, in her long-awaited sixth novel Brown (Half a Heart, 2000, etc.) sings as euphoniously as ever, whether she is writing about the filth and stench of the city, about the magnificence of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, or about love. . . . A transporting drama of class and love, steeped in period feeling, written with beauty and conviction.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“In her first historical novel, an exquisite, suspenseful, and character-driven tale of two cities, poet and deeply inquisitive fiction writer Brown (Before and After, 1992; Half a Heart, 2000) takes measure of the divide between rich and poor during Chicago’s resplendent World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Narrating from Chaya’s and Asher’s divergent perspectives, Brown describes with sensuous intensity the lavish lives of the elite and the desperation of the unemployed, the miasmas of sweatshops and the radiant fair, which decays into a mere facade. . . . In an astute and enrapturing variation on Edith Wharton’s foundational Gilded Age novel, The House of Mirth (1905), and, in accord with Dickens, Dreiser, and Doctorow, Brown imaginatively, compassionately, and spellbindingly dramatizes timeless questions of survival and social conscience.” Booklist, starred review

“In Brown’s stellar, evocative novel, Jewish siblings Chaya and Asher Shaderowsky move with their family to America from Ukraine to work on a Wisconsin collective farm. . . .[Brown] transports the reader to Gilded Age Chicago and recreates the Jewish immigrant experience as incisively as Henry Roth in Call It Sleep.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“If you don’t know this name, get familiar: Brown is one of our best living fiction writers, spending much of a career well under-the-radar. Her new novel, remarkably her first in nearly 20 years, is an epic that questions the American dream in a 19th-century immigrant saga.” Entertainment Weekly, “Fall preview: The 20 books you need to read this season”