cover image Ashes


Sharon Gloger Friedman. Outskirts, $16.95 trade paper (316p) ISBN 978-1-4787-6947-7

Early-20th-century Russia and New York are vividly rendered in this affecting debut that centers on a Jewish family’s immigrant experience. Amid escalating anti-Semitism, a brutal pogrom against Jewish businesses and individuals commences in Kishinev on Easter in 1903. Meyer Raisky; his wife, Sadie; and their 13-year-old daughter, Miriam, lose family, friends, and their livelihood. They leave for America, joining relatives on the Lower East Side, where Meyer becomes a pushcart peddler, Sadie sews, and Miriam works in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sweatshop. Unfortunate events including Meyer’s head injury and inability to work and Sadie’s brother-in-law walking out on his family heighten the realization that this is not the better life the family had hoped for. Emboldened by work indignities, a layoff, and a romance with a union organizer, Miriam pickets in the 1910 garment workers’ strike; the following year, she barely escapes the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which claimed 146 lives and led to industry reforms. Friedman captures the essence of a tight-knit, observant Jewish family beset with tragedy, squeezed by hard times, and defined by historical events. Friedman makes a potent statement about the resiliency of the human spirit. (Self-published.)