New York times Editors' Choice

Amazon Book of the Month Selection

Read it Forward Favorite Reads of April

 

 

“Like any Jewish story worth the salt that Lot’s wife became, [What to Do About the Solomons] is admirably and quite beautifully rooted in 20th century history―and yet, at the same time, it largely steers clear of the politics that, from one angle or another, drag down so many contemporary novels...[Ball] works hard to render each [character] with sensitivity and respect, a dedication that also makes her fabulously unafraid to mark her characters with signs of psychosis and brutality... I ended What to Do About the Solomons absolutely swimming with affection, not just for the characters but for the multiple worlds that created them. Despite their collective penchant for psychodrama , there’s something profoundly lovely―and loving―about the Solomons.  And about Bethany Ball’s debut.”―Alana Newhouse, New York Times Book Review

"Through her telling of the Solomon family sagas, Ball explores the dichotomies of Israeli society and, more broadly, life in general. She grapples with religion and secularism, war and peace, liberalism and conservatism, socialism and communism, wealth and poverty, and Europe, America, and Israel. Readers will find themselves easily and eagerly turning the pages of What to do About the Solomons, thanks in part to a burning desire to know what will be revealed about the various members of the Solomon family as the book progresses. That said, what’s truly striking about the novel is the substance the author conveys in her fluid and airy prose. Audiences will find themselves transfixed by certain sentences, reading them over and over, shocked to see their own internal experience reflected on the page before them." ―Heidi Sax, Jewish Book Council

"In this big-hearted, fast-paced multigenerational family drama, the Solomons have raised children on a kibbutz in Israel, and while one stays, the others make their lives in Los Angeles and New York. Ball’s debut novel is poignant and full of joy, as she weaves together the dramatic tales of these colorful Solomon clan.  There is financial scandal in the asset trading business, an actress trying to make it where she can, an estranged gay son living in Asia, and the world of gossipy intrigue in the kibbutz where word of family antics travels fast and is a source of endless speculation and amusement. Ball has a keen eye for the absurdity of modern life, and a distinctive perspective." --The National Book Review

"Ball's prose is compulsively readable, almost addictive, and she has a wicked sense of humor."  ~ Kirkus Reviews

"Ball, with great humor, profound wit, and notable insight, vividly captures a singular family...This novel from a most promising writer has been compared to the work of Isaac B. Singer and Grace Paley, as well as Nathan Englander and Jennifer Egan. Try Eudora Welty with sex and Jews."  ~ Booklist

"Ball switches points of view for a mosaic of family members and associates in crisis and adrift. Her terse, sharp-edged prose captures settings ranging from an American jail where highest bail is king to a French military post where they haven't won a war since Napoleon, but they sure know how to live. For all its humor, penetrating disillusionment underlies Ball's memorable portrait of a family, once driven by pioneer spirit, now plagued by overextension and loss of direction, unsure what to do with its legacy, teetering between resentment, remorse, and resilience."  ~ Publishers Weekly

In her fiction debut, Ball has formulated a fast-paced, multigenerational, dysfunctional family drama that also bubbles over with humor and intrigue — essentially what you might expect (or hope for) from a tale of a kibbutz family and its scattered, colorful offspring. With beautiful language and sordid details, the narrative bounces from Israel to New York to Southern California and beyond (and back and forth), with plenty of gossip gone wrong and dark secrets in between. Early critical responses are drawing comparisons to Nathan Englander and Jennifer Egan — or as a Booklist review put it, “Try Eudora Welty with sex and Jews.” ~ Victor Wishna, JTA

 

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