[Book Review] A Brilliant New Release from Roberta Silman

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By Roberta Silman

Roberta Silman’s latest novel Summer Lightning is historical fiction at it’s finest. A meet-cute between two young people at an air field, in 1927, begins a story about the immigrant experience in the United States.

Belle and Isaac face many challenges, both interpersonal and socioeconomic, as they begin a new life, in a new country while fighting to maintain ties to their homeland and the family members left behind. As their story unfolds, painted by the external challenges of the Great Depression, the Second World War, and eventually, the Civil Rights Movement, Silman engages the reader with classic, vivid language. I was engrossed from beginning to end. Silman’s writing grabs the reader from the first and doesn’t let go. I finished reading, wanting more of these characters, in the best possible way.

I’d like to thank Meryl Zegarek Public Relations for a free advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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About Roberta Silman

Born in Brooklyn, NY on December 29, 1934, Roberta Karpel moved to Long Island when she was seven and received her B.A. with honors (Phi Beta Kappa) from Cornell University in 1956. Three days after graduation she married Robert Silman, and they went on to have three children.

She began writing as the assistant to the Science Editor at The Saturday Review Magazine in the late ’50s while her husband got his second Bachelors Degree in engineering. Ms. Silman was one of the first women science writers and could have continued in journalism, but she was

passionate about writing fiction. When her first child was born in 1961, she wrote her first short story, “Wedding Day.” She worked for the next ten years on her own, then applied in 1972 to the graduate writing program at Sarah Lawrence where she worked with Grace Paley and Jane Cooper and started to publish while there. She received her MFA in 1975.

A recipient of both a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA Fellowship, she has won the National Magazine Award for Fiction twice — once in 1974 (above) and again in 1984, two other stories were winners in the PEN Syndicated Fiction project, two were read at Symphony Space and on NPR’s Selected Shorts, and several have been cited in Best American Short Stories. A story, “Without Wendy,” was published in The American Scholar in Spring 2009 and her remembrance of Grace Paley, “The Swiveling Light of Truth,” was published there in the Autumn of 2008. Her reviews and op-Ed pieces have appeared in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New York Observer and World Books PRI. She is a senior contributor to the online magazine: ArtsFuse.

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