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Flora's Suitcase marks the auspicious debut of an original new voice in fiction. An exquisitely written tale, Flora's Suitcase is redolent with elements of magical realism and a decidedly fresh look at the traditional family saga, taking the reader on a funny, mysterious journey as one woman carves out her identity in a new land.
Dalia Rabinovich weaves the intricate and mysterious tapestry of David and Flora Grossenberg's lives with skill and imagination. The young Jewish couple emigrate to Colombia shortly after their marriage and soon discover that the clash of cultures--between Colombian and American traditions, and between modern Jews and their conservative Russian emigré relations--as well as the foreign landscape will test their marriage and their family bonds.
After the arrival, Flora desperately wants out of the clutches of David's three older sisters, overbearing matriarchs all, and insists that she and David rent a house of their own. There they discover a curious inhabitant, Bolivariana, a wizened old woman who claims to be the illegitimate daughter of Columbia's national hero, Simon Bolivar. She wanders their house aimlessly, scavenging for food late at night, and displaying her uncanny gift for predicting the future.
Also clamoring for Flora's attention are a growing brood of children, a succession of Wayward maids, and the more unusual male members of the family, including the increasingly erratic Harold, whose passion for mangoes lured the entire family to Columbia in the first place.
Bright with imagination and steeped in rich South American culture, Flora's Suitcase chronicles a journey in a strange and wonderful land, marking the emergence of a promising new literary talent.
"Flora's Suitcase is a magical family saga. It's beautifully written, imaginatively evoked and so touching and funny that any reader will be constantly surprised. What a wonderful first novel! And how nice that I had a small part to play in bringing it to readers."
Before they married, Dave had promised Flora that they would live forever in her hometown of Cincinnatiu. He would make many other promises and break them, but that was the one for which he would always he held accountable. It was to be the dormant root of every argument, rarely hurled as an accusation but always present, implicit. What Dave did not know was that Flora, at her mother's suggestion, had asked him to make a promise that she was sure he could not keep.
"A broken promise goes a long way," Shana advised her daughter.
"What did you ask of papa? Flora inquired.
"I don't remember." Shana smiled mischievously. "But what's important is that he does."
--from Flora's Suitcase
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Dalia Rabinovich was born in Columbia. She graduated from UCLA in 1987 with a degree in broadcast communication, then worked in TV production in New York for seven years. In 1996 she received an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College and has taught English composition there and at Borough of Manhattan Community College. She lives in New York City.From Publishers Weekly:
Rabinovich's quirky, wry and perceptive debut won HarperCollins's "Best Seller" contest to launch a first-time novelist. Her narrative focuses on an initially hopeful Jewish-American woman who leaves Cincinnati in 1933 and moves with her quietly domineering husband and their baby to Colombia, where she copes with culture shock and his obstreperous, Russian-Jewish emigre family. Three more children and a quarter century, later, Flora Grossenberg has been worn down by her manipulative husband, a textile manufacturer, by his venomous family and by Colombia itself, portrayed here as a deeply superstitious, backward country beset by endless civil wars. By the late 1950s, when Flora makes her first return trip to the U.S., she is full of suppressed rage, stifled by the wrong choices she made by bowing to her husband's will. Rabinovich, who was born in Colombia and now teaches writing at Brooklyn College, invests this exotic adventure with mordant feminist observations of cross-cultural misunderstandings, but her characters are too often caricatures (e.g., Bolivariana, the Grossenbergs' wizened, defiant maid, who claims to be freedom-fighter Simon Bolivar's illegitimate daughter; and Harold, Flora's eccentric brother-in-law, obsessed with mangos, who blows off his toe with a rifle). Flora's suitcase, symbol of her hope that she will someday escape her frustrating life, in the end becomes a poignant metaphor for her failure to do so. Editors, Sharon Bowers, Fiona Hallowell; agent, Jimmy Vines.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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