"The Family Markowitz is one of the most astute and engaging books about American family life to have come our way in quite a while." --Linda Matchan, Boston Globe
In The Family Markowitz, Allegra Goodman writes with wit and compassion of three generations of Markowitzes making their way in America. At the center is Rose, the cantankerous matriarch, who longs for her earlier life in London and Vienna but is now forced into dependency on her sons Ed, an academic expert on terrorism (ahead of his time!), and Henry, an artistic expatriate with a taste for antiques and postmodern poetry. Also in the family circle are Sarah, Ed's wife, who teaches creative writing and longs for a more literary life, and Sarah and Ed's daughter Miriam, a medical student who causes great alarm in her largely assimilated family by rediscovering Judaism.
Through her sharp-eyed observations of weddings, hospital vigils, holiday dinners, and other rituals of family life, Goodman writes about the Markowitzes from the inside, bringing each character to life.
The stories in this collection are so linked and consistent, the book is almost a novel. It tells the comic and endearing history of a family of archetypal American Jews. Rose, the finicky and irrational Jewish mother, becomes increasingly dependent on Percodan and on her two sons, Ed, a hard-headed academic, and Henry, an arty dilettante. Ed's writer wife Sara suffers through teaching creative writing at the local Jewish Community Center. Ed painfully endures an interfaith weekend with crushingly banal Christian ecumenists, even though both he and Sara are completely irreligious. Meanwhile their daughter Miriam alarms them by rediscovering Judaism. Goodman, whose stories appear regularly in the New Yorker, delights the reader with recognition of the funny in the familiar.