Set in 1965, The War Of The Rosens details the lives of an eccentric Jewish family in the Bronx who are forced to face the limitations and complexities of love and faith.
Charismatic but volatile Leo Rosen, a self-described "politically progressive Jewish atheist," tries to convince his 10 year-old daughter, Emma, that there is no God. Emma grapples with her conflicted feelings. Drawn to what she perceives as "the poetry" of Faith, she worries that if God does exist, He will punish the Rosens for being bad Jews. Leo's wife, Annette, unappreciated by her family, fantasizes about running away like a "rebellious teenager."
But what everyone is unaware of is that 13-year-old May has disturbing physical symptoms, which she keeps a secret because of her fear of doctors. Willful May, who is wildly jealous of Emma, convinces herself that she isn't ill, but that God is testing her to see if she deserves Marvin Ludwig, the boy she loves from afar.
The Rosens are dreamers. They are all trying to change things, to map their own dreams of a world in which the meanings of "Faith" and "Love" will one day be fully understood and realized, to create some possibility of a future, which becomes the most essential dream of all.
Written in the tradition of Myla Goldberg's Bee Season , Janice Eidus' War Of The Rosens will stay in your heart forever.
Reviews and Accolades
It took all of about thirty seconds for me to be drawn into this beautifully
written family saga set in the 1960's in the Bronx. Janice Eidus gives
us a young protagonist who is an aspiring poet but the author is something
of a poet, herself, in her construction of a world you can feel, hear,
taste, and touch. These multi-dimensional characters might have been your
classmates or neighbors or cousins or friends; that's how tangible and
real they seem.
A very good book and one of the most compelling stories I've read in
a while. This is one of those 'life observed' types of novels. We learn
about ourselves by watching the characters and Eidus excels at creating
compelling characters. She does it gracefully and that's why I've spent
most of this review talking about the Rosen family.
Nominated for the American Library Association's 2007 Sophie Brody Award - this award recognizes outstanding achievement in Jewish literature.
Eidus is a camouflage artist whose writing has a dark underside while
beams of light struggle to break through the gray pall over this complex
coming-of-age novel. As the Rosens are cruelly tested, Eidus works out
a calculus of guilt, fear, and love. Grim and incisive, caustically humorous,
and affecting, Eidus' drama of moral reckoning is rendered with barbed
detail to yield what Leo calls "The Truth With a Capitol T."
Eidus has a spirited voice and a sly affection for her characters.
Janice Eidus' writing is intensely moving and fiercely intelligent. With
bittersweet humor, and without sentimentality or nostalgia, she eloquently
evokes the diverse voices of the adults and children of the colorful,
eccentric Rosen family. She vividly captures not only the world of the
Bronx in the mid-sixties, but also the world of one Jewish family struggling
to survive in a harsh world charged with beauty and possibility.
Deeply urban, playfully iconoclastic, unconventio-nally conventional, meticulously tuned to myriad voices and social registers ...each day just a little different than the day before. -Bloomsbury Review
...distinguished by irony, intelligence, and unexpected moments of tenderness.
Janice Eidus...possesses a fierce imagination; the book's surrealistic
edge is inventive and darkly amusing...
Eidus displays a wonderful ear...
We are reminded that our own humaneness, joys, and failures are not all that different from those found in the lives of people who seem, on the surface, to be living very different lives from our own.
At the same time we are entertained by wit, dark humor, dialogue that
sounds like real human beings speaking, and a plot that coils back on
itself with masterful structure. With The War of the Rosens, Janice Eidus,
author of four other novels, joins the first rank of contemporary American
The Truth with a Capital T is that you have written an incredible book!
Prepare yourself for fame! This book is noteworthy for its examination
of themes of non-belief and figuring out how to be a "good Jew" despite
this lack of belief, plus, of course, coping with tragedy without this
belief to fall back on.
Read Janice's interview with Writing It Real
About the Author
Novelist, short story writer, and essayist JANICE EIDUS has twice won the O.Henry Prize for her short stories, as well as a Redbook Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a National Writers Voice Residency Award, and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She is the author of four highly acclaimed books, the story collections, The Celibacy Club and Vito Loves Geraldine, and the novels, Urban Bliss and Faithful Rebecca. She's co-editor of It's Only Rock And Roll: An Anthology of Rock And Roll Short Stories.
JANICE grew up in an iconoclastic Bronx family, and she writes frequently about issues of Jewish identity (sometimes with humor, always with affection). Her work appears in such anthologies as The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories and Neurotica: Jewish Writers On Sex, as well as in the magazines The Forward and Tikkun. She has been invited to read and speak at such venues as The Jewish Museum, The Eldridge Street Synagogue, and Hebrew Union College.
JANICE is on the Writing Faculty of the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing at Carlow University. She also offers individual writing tutorials, and teaches at numerous writers conferences and festivals throughout the United States, Europe, and Latin America. She lives in New York City and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.