In the year 1947, Michael Devlin, eleven years old and 100 percent American-Irish, is about to forge an extraordinary bond with a refugee of war named Rabbi Judah Hirsch. Standing united against a common enemy, they will summon from ancient sources a power in desperately short supply in modern Brooklyn-a force that's forgotten by most of the world but is known to believers as magic.
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In 1940s Brooklyn, friendship between an 11-year-old Irish Catholic boy and an elderly Jewish rabbi might seem as unlikely as, well, snow in August. But the relationship between young Michael Devlin and Rabbi Judah Hirsch is only one of the many miracles large and small contained in Pete Hamill's novel. Michael finds himself in trouble when he witnesses the 17-year-old leader of the dreaded Falcons gang beating an elderly shopkeeper. For Michael, 1940s Brooklyn is a world still shaped by life in the Old Country, a world where informing on a fellow Irishman is the worst crime imaginable--worse even than the violent crimes committed by some of those fellows. So Michael keeps silent, finding solace in the company of Rabbi Hirsch, a Czech refuge whom he meets by chance. From this serendipitous beginning blossoms a unique friendship--one that proves perilous to both when the Falcons catch up with them.
Interlaced with Hamill's realistic descriptions of violence and fear are scenes of remarkable poignancy: the rabbi's first baseball game, where he sees Jackie Robinson play for the Dodgers; Michael's introduction into the mystical world of the Cabbala and the book's miraculous ending. Hamill is not a lyrical writer, but he is a heartfelt one, and this story of courage in the face of great odds is one of his best.About the Author:
Pete Hamill is a novelist, essayist and journalist whose career has endured for more than forty years. He was born in Brooklyn, N. Y. in 1935, the oldest of seven children of immigrants from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He attended Catholic schools as a child. He left school at 16 to work in the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a sheetmetal worker, and then went on to the United States Navy. While serving in the Navy, he completed his high school education. Then, using the educational benefits of the G.I. Bill of Rights, he attended Mexico City College in 1956-1957, studying painting and writing, and later went to Pratt Institute. For several years, he worked as a graphic designer. Then in 1960, he went to work as a reporter for the New York Post. A long career in journalism followed. He has been a columnist for the New York Post, the New York Daily News, and New York Newsday, the Village Voice, New York magazine and Esquire. He has served as editor-in-chief of both the Post and the Daily News.. As a journalist, he has covered wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Northern Ireland, and has lived for extended periods in Mexico City, Dublin, Barcelona, San Juan and Rome. From his base in New York he has also covered murders, fires, World Series, championship fights and the great domestic disturbances of the 1960s, and has written extensively on art, jazz, immigration and politics. He witnessed the events of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath and wrote about them for the Daily News. At the same time, Hamill has written much fiction, including movie and TV scripts. He has published nine novels and two collections of short stories. His 1997 novel, Snow in August, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four months. His memoir, A Drinking Life, was on the same New York Times list for 13 weeks. He has published two collections of his journalism (Irrational Ravings and Piecework), an extended essay on journalism called News Is A Verb, a book about the relationship of tools to art, a biographical essay called Why Sinatra Matters, dealing with the music of the late singer and the social forces that made his work unique. In 1999, Harry N. Abrams published his acclaimed book on the Mexican painter Diego Rivera. His latest novel, Forever, was published by Little, Brown in January 2003 and became a New York Times bestseller. In 2004, he published “Downtown: My Manhattan”, a non-fiction account of his love affair with New York and received much critical acclaim. Hamill is the father of two daughters, and has a seven-year-old grandson. He is married to the Japanese journalist, Fukiko Aoki, and they divide their time between New York City and Cuernavaca, Mexico. He is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University and is writing a new novel.
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