Yona Zeldis McDonough   The Four Temperaments  
Yona Zeldis McDonough  
Read an Excerpt from The Four Temperaments

Yona Zeldis McDonough reads

Read an Interview with Yona Zeldis McDonough


Set against the backdrop of the prestigious New York City Ballet, The Four Temperaments is a tale of love, lust, rivalry, and family bonds. Yona Zeldis McDonough weaves a taut and unpredictable tale about a father and son, both married, both in love with the same elusive young dancer.

Oscar Kornblatt was in love.

With this spare opening line, McDonough sets the tone for her debut novel, a work that is at times haunting, at times humorous, and always compelling. Oscar, the patriarch of the Kornblatt family, has become the Ballet's lead violinist in the decades that he's worked with them. For the first time in his career he finds himself smitten by one of the ingenues in the corps de ballet, the fresh-faced but world-weary Ginny Valentine, a toothy and candid southern girl new to New York. Ginny's big-city ambitions and uncommon beauty instantly draw Oscar, leading to a brief sexual encounter and a cautious friendship. After meeting Ginny over dinner, Oscar's trusting yet disenchanted wife, Ruth, invites her to Thanksgiving, where she will meet the Kornblatt's three sons.

Gabriel Kornblatt, Oscar and Ruth's eldest son, lives in San Francisco with his beautiful and deeply troubled wife, Penelope. At Thanksgiving dinner he, too, falls under Ginny's anomalous spell, and so begins another relationship steeped in taboo. It is essentially Ruth's response to her family's deviance that drives The Four Temperaments to its explosive climax and beyond.

I interviewed Yona Zeldis McDonough in her lovely Brooklyn home over a lunch of gazpacho, fresh-baked bread, several types of cheese, and cornichons, for which we both share an unusual affinity. We discussed family strife and Barbie dolls, first names (she divides them into two categories, better than hers and worse than hers) and self-image. We also discussed her brilliant new work, The Four Temperaments. I eagerly await McDonough's next novel.

—Laura L. Buchwald
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  Photo credit: Anthony Parmelee

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