January 3, 2022

A com­pelling and com­pas­sion­ate debut about friend­ship, faith, fam­i­ly and identity.

A unique­ly accom­plished debut.’ Syd­ney Morn­ing Herald
Make this your next read.’ Read­ings Monthly
deft­ly plot­ted and though­ful­ly realised’ Books+Publishing
Bril­liant, inspired, orig­i­nal and deeply dis­turb­ing. A tru­ly fab­u­lous debut.’ ABC Radio
A brave, chal­leng­ing and impor­tant debut.’ New­town Review of Books

He who turns his ear away from hear­ing the Torah – even his prayer is an abom­i­na­tion. Proverbs 28:9

Mel­bourne 1999: Ezra and Yonatan are best friends whose lives are for­ev­er changed when their school, the ultra-Ortho­dox Jew­ish Yahel Acad­e­my, is rocked by a scan­dal and they are thrown onto diver­gent paths. Twen­ty years lat­er, the lives of the two men are very dif­fer­ent: Ezra iden­ti­fies as sec­u­lar and athe­ist, while Yonatan has been ordained as a rab­bi and teach­es at the acad­e­my. By chance they are reunit­ed, and the events of their past and present col­lide with dev­as­tat­ing consequences.

Abom­i­na­tion lays bare the clash between reli­gious and sec­u­lar worlds in con­tem­po­rary Aus­tralia and pro­vides a reveal­ing glimpse into a closed com­mu­ni­ty. With great ten­der­ness and insight debut author Ash­ley Gold­berg tells the sto­ry of an endur­ing and evolv­ing friend­ship as Yonatan and Ezra strug­gle to come to terms with the choic­es they have made, search for mean­ing, and forge their own iden­ti­ties. This is a beau­ti­ful­ly observed, mov­ing sto­ry from an excit­ing young writer.

Discussion Questions

Ash­ley Goldberg’s debut nov­el, Abom­i­na­tion, is a duet. Half of it takes place in Australia’s close-knit ultra-Ortho­dox Jew­ish world, where Yonatan Kaplan is a respect­ed hus­band, rab­bi, and soon-to-be-father; the oth­er half takes place in the sec­u­lar Mel­bourne of Yonatan’s child­hood friend Ezra Stein­berg who has long since chucked away his reli­gious obser­vance. Yonatan and Ezra haven’t spo­ken in years, but when a molesta­tion scan­dal from their time at yeshi­va togeth­er creeps back into the head­lines, their paths cross again. 

Goldberg’s fast-paced, engross­ing, emo­tion­al nov­el offers a win­dow into Australia’s Hasidic com­mu­ni­ty, where loy­al­ty and obe­di­ence are coins of the realm, and there is no room for dis­sent or mod­ern ideas. Gold­berg beau­ti­ful­ly paints the war­ring impulse for jus­tice and truth and chron­i­cles the betray­als and dis­hon­esty one finds in both the reli­gious and sec­u­lar world. At its heart, Abom­i­na­tion is a sto­ry about friend­ship and the bonds that hold two peo­ple togeth­er long after being bat­tered by the forces try­ing to keep them apart.