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The Days of Awe

The Days of Awe

From Publishers Weekly

The national tragedy of 9/11 collides with the personal tragedy of a Manhattan book illustrator. Artie Rubin, 67, lives on the Upper West Side with his wife, Johanna; the first half of the book deals with the ordinary details of love, work and sex in later life. At the attack on the World Trade Center midbook, Nissenson broadens the scope to include friends, acquaintances and characters who get caught in the attacks, including a man who jumps from one of the towers while talking to his fiancée, as a former romantic rival, who missed work that day, survives. Johanna suffers a serious heart attack; Artie struggles to maintain his perspective. Their lives in the Jewish community play a significant role and their faith comes in for heavy questioning. The grim conclusion adds a dark cast to an otherwise balanced narrative. This is Nissenson's first novel since the NBA and PEN-Faulkner finalist The Tree of Life (1985). Solid character writing and attention to the details of daily life make the September 11 material well motivated; as to worry, kibitz, philosophize and complain, one feels that they have a real sense of the stakes. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Nissenson has acknowledged that fear of death inspired him to create, and this novel--whose protagonist bears more than a passing resemblance to the author--centers on mortality. In the late summer of 2001 in New York, 67-year-old Artie Rubin--certain he'll die at 73, as his father did--is facing the Days of Awe, the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when religious Jews believe God decides who will die in the coming year. Artie, an author of books of mythology, now writing about the Norse god Odin, seems surrounded by death: his former editor recently died of colon cancer, his lawyer has melanoma, his wife Johanna's blood pressure and cholesterol are dangerously high, and then comes 9/11. Even the Norse gods die, the only mythological gods to do so. Fearful of losing Johanna, Artie turns to practicing his religion in a final irony. various plot threads--Artie's story and book, his family and friends, including 9/11 survivors--with skill, in short, sometimes diarylike entries. This is a moving, thought-provoking exploration of coming to grips with mortality. Michele Leber
Copyright © American Library Association. All Rights Reserved


[Nissenson] more than holds his own in the arena of gritty, all-too-present-day realism -- Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2005

From the Back Cover

At age 67, Artie Rubin finds his world shaken to its foundation by events he cannot control. His tale is both universal and unique; it is the story of the end of things and their beginnings, of friends and family, of connections lost and of the endurance of love. The Days of Awe is a breathtaking call to living.
“The Days of Awe is a great Awakening elegy for all our lives even as we live them.”
-Johanna Kaplan, author of O My America
“[Nissenson] more than holds his own in the arena of gritty, all-too-present-day realism, brilliantly conveying his characters’ anxiety and suffering, their conflicting ideas, emotions and beliefs, and the love for one another that makes them so vulnerable but also lends enduring value to their menaced lives.”
-Wall Street Journal
“If...you believe that at their best, novels should be transformative, should rip the dusty curtains from our everyday vision and reveal the reality of our existence; if you don’t mind being terrorized by a narrative if it takes you to a greater understanding of what it means to be alive on this earth; if you’re willing to take this ride with Hugh Nissenson, then you’re not in for a treat exactly-that would be the wrong word-but you’ll be looking at a different world when you finish his pages.”
-Carolyn See, Washington Post
Washington Post Best Books of the Year
Philadelphia Inquirer Top 10 Fiction Pick

--This text refers to an .

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