And Dark­ness Was Under His Feet: Sto­ries of a Family

Annie Daw­id
  • Review
By – October 26, 2011

This sprawl­ing, warm-heart­ed sto­ry spans six con­ti­nents and one hun­dred years, from the 1900 Sab­bath table of Rei­zl and Lazar Solomon and their young sons, in Radautz, Bukov­ina to a glo­ri­ous mil­lenial reunion in Paris. 

Daw­id presents the fam­i­ly his­to­ry in twen­ty-four accounts of vary­ing length, rich in per­son­al vignettes though mind­ful of the over­rid­ing his­tor­i­cal arc. Here is Hans, a grand­son of Rei­zl and Lazar, res­i­dent alien” of Tientsin, North Chi­na, 1939; Berthold, anoth­er grand­son, on day 555 of his impris­on­ment in a Com­mu­nist prison cell, 1950; great-grand­daugh­ters Toni and Mar­guerite, les Belles Juenelles, inter­na­tion­al­ly acclaimed Bel­gian duo-pianists, 1990’s.

The final sto­ry, set in Neuil­ly, a sub­urb of Paris, is an amaz­ing set piece. From far-flung cor­ners of the world, e.g. Dakar, Liv­er­pool, Haifa, San Fran­cis­co, Saigon, Moscow, Capetown, Rio, Tientsin, Brus­sels, Dublin, New York, the descen­dants of Rei­zl and Lazar — gay, straight, mul­ti-eth­nic, mul­ti-lin­gual, mul­ti-racial, mul­ti-tal­ent­ed — assem­ble in bois­ter­ous cel­e­bra­tion of the nine­ty-sec­ond birth­day of Fre­da, grand­daugh­ter of Rei­zl and Lazar, old­est sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the fam­i­ly, and the birth of the new millennium.

Judith Felsen­feld book of short fic­tion, Blaustein’s Kiss, was pub­lished in April, 2014. Her sto­ries have appeared in numer­ous mag­a­zines and lit­er­ary reviews, includ­ing The Chica­go Review, The South­west Review, Blue Mesa, and broad­cast nation­wide on NPR’s Select­ed Shorts.

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