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***New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award Nominee***
Allegra Goodman debuted on the literary scene in 1989 with the collection of short stories, Total Immersion. She then went on to pen a second and critically-acclaimed short story collection, The Family Markowitz (1996) and Kaaterskill Falls (1998), her debut novel which was nominated for the National Book Award.
In Paradise Park, Goodman returns to a character, Sharon, that we met briefly in her first short story collection. In a story entitled "Onionskin", Sharon wrote a letter to her professor in which she outlined the trials and tribulations of her life, as well as offered an apology for her outburst in the professor's theology class when she made some choice remarks regarding Augustine. In Paradise Park, now in a paperback edition, we learn that this letter doesn't appease the professor and poor Sharon Spiegelman flunks the class.
Paradise Park is one Jewish-American woman's spiritual and cultural odyssey both within herself and across the globe, as she searches for life's answers and just a little sense--all in a world seemingly without any truth and with whole lot of questions. Even though this journey is ultimately one tinged with dry wit and humor, it is as much about religious and cultural questioning as it is about the obvious humor and absurdity in a post-post-modern world.
As Sharon's journey winds down, and as she continues to peel away at the "the onion" that is life, she returns to her very own Ithaca, and finds out that who she really is is who she has been all along--but it is her very escape and journey outside the wire-mesh originally surrounding her that has made all the difference.
As Time Magazine suggested, “Like Saul Bellow and Philip Roth before her, Goodman has achieved a breakthrough book.” Paradise Park is a well-wrought and superbly crafted addition to Goodman's interesting and growing repertoire.
Praise for Paradise Park...
“Clear, rain-washed prose ...In Allegra Goodman's ebullient, bittersweet, plaintive Song of Sharon, the heroine’s true achievement is finding poetry in.becoming who she’s been all along."—The New York Times Book Review
“[The] narrator, that Sharon Spiegelman, has one of the most enchanting, idiosyncratic voices since Augie March.”—The Washington Post Book World
“With Sharon Spiegelman, Goodman has created a Huck Finn for the modern age, drifting down the river of American spirituality.”—The Christian Science Monitor