The debut novel from Miriam Karmel paints an irresistible portrait of Esther Lustig, an eighty-five year-old widow living in Chicago.
“In this beautiful vignette, the 85 year old protagonist, Esther Lustig, engages in time travel, the kind we all do every day . . . I was charmed by Esther’s wonderful observations of life, her love of literature and clarity of vision. Karmel has created a character I will not soon forget.” —Terri Weiner, Village Books, Bellingham, WA
“What a beautiful gift Miriam Karmel has given us! She got it all right: the aging thing, the generational thing, the Chicago thing, the Jewish thing, and the continuing loss of personal contact in our sadly alienated world. Told through the eyes and mind of the richly complex and loveable Esther, and without a wasted word, Being Esther is a novel I will treasure. And I’ll sell the hell out of it when it comes out.” —David Unowsky, SubText Bookstore, St. Paul, MN
“Being Esther is a beautiful, touching novel.” —Pierre Camy, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, MI
In spare, refreshingly unsentimental prose, Miriam Karmel has given us one of literature’s finest portraits of the last days of a woman’s life. At once sad and amusing, unpretentious and ambitious, Karmel’s fiction debut brings understanding and tremendous empathy to the character of Esther Lustig, a woman readers will recognize and embrace.
Born to parents who fled the shtetl, Esther Lustig has led a seemingly conventional life—marriage, two children, a life in suburban Chicago. Now, at the age of eighty-five, her husband is deceased, her children have families of their own, and most of her friends are gone. Even in this diminished condition, life has its moments of richness, as well as its memorable characters. Being Esther is an exploration of aging, a search for meaning, and about the need, as Esther puts it, for better roadmaps for growing old.
Miriam Karmel has worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor. Her fiction has won numerous regional prizes, and her stories have been published in Bellevue Literary Review and Minnesota Monthly, as well as anthologized in Fiction on a Stick (Milkweed Editions, 2008). She lives in Minneapolis, MN and Sandisfield, MA. Being Esther is her first novel.