About I Am Forbidden
Publisher: Hogarth (May 8, 2012)
I AM FORBIDDEN is a family saga set in the most insular and fundamentalist sect of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar. Spanning generations, cultures, and continents, from pre–World War II Transylvania to 1960s Paris to contemporary New York, I AM FORBIDDEN traces the collisions between unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition.
In 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef Lichtenstein survives the brutal murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by Florina, a Gentile maid who raises him as her own. Five years later, Josef rescues a little girl, Mila Heller, after her parents are killed running toward the leader of their community, Yoel Teitelbaum (the Satmar Rebbe), who is on board the Kasztner train. (Kasztner, a Zionist envoy, has been hailed by some as a hero for securing the escape of more than 1,600 Jews who would otherwise have been deported to Auschwitz. However, others view Kasztner as a collaborator who saved the lives of a few, including his own family and those who could pay, rather than urge the masses to resist deportation.)
As I AM FORBIDDEN unfolds, Josef helps Mila reach the home of Zalman Stern, a scholar and leader in his community. It is under Zalman’s roof that Mila becomes a sister to his daughter Atara. After the war, Zalman separates Josef from his adoptive mother and sends him to the new Satmar community the Rebbe is building in America; Mila and the Sterns flee to begin a new life in Paris. As the daughters mature, Mila’s faith intensifies. Eventually, Mila moves to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to marry Josef, while Atara, to seek personal and intellectual freedom, must make the painful decision to leave her family.
Mila and Atara grow apart over the years and are reunited when the devout Mila, after ten years of childlessness, breaks holy law by going outside her marriage in a last effort to become pregnant. Mila’s secret will make pariahs of her daughter, and her daughter’s children—if it is ever revealed. In spare and exquisite writing, I AM FORBIDDEN brings to life a community in extremes, taking us deep inside the minds of those who struggle to leave fundamentalist environments, and into the souls of those who struggle to stay.
ANOUK MARKOVITS was raised in France, one of fifteen children of Hasidic Jewish parents. She was sent to a religious seminary in lieu of high school. After she left home at the age of nineteen to avoid an arranged marriage, she attended Columbia University’s School of General Studies and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. She has a Master of Architecture from Harvard and a PhD in Romance studies from Cornell. Her first novel, Pur Coton, written in French, was published by Gallimard. I Am Forbidden is her English-language debut.
Anouk Markovits’ TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, May 7th: Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, May 8th: Dolce Bellezza
Wednesday, May 9th: nomadreader
Thursday, May 10th: Life in Review
Friday, May 11th: Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, May 14th: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, May 15th: The Literate Housewife Review
Wednesday, May 16th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, May 17th: A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, May 23rd: The 3 R’s Blog
Thursday, May 24th: Raging Bibliomania
Monday, June 4th: Suko’s Notebook
Tuesday, June 5th: Luxury Reading
Saturday, June 16th: Stiletto Storytime