Today, Alicia Oltuski interviewes Randy Susan Meyers, who wrote The Murderer’s Daughters, about her experience touring the nation’s synagogues and JCCs with Jewish Book Council…and talking about domestic violence in Jewish communities.
How and when did you first hear about the Jewish Book Council and their author tour?
When my book came out, my lovely (and Jewish) literary agent pushed me to try out for the author tour. “Don’t forget, Jewish people read an enormous amount,” my lovely (and Jewish) literary agent said before my book launch. “We really love books.”
I’d had the good fortune of hearing authors speak at the Jewish Community Center in Greater Boston many times; I very much wanted the chance to participate as an author.
What do you think it was about your book/yourself that made the JBC audience respond to you?
The Murderer’s Daughters
is about sisters who witness their father kill their mother, and how their life unfolds for the next thirty years. Everyone seemed eager to discuss the reality of domestic violence in Jewish families — so long a forbidden topic. In addition, everyone opened up about the ways in which sisters — any siblings — respond so differently to the same family events, almost as though they’d been raised in different homes.
And, as always in great Jewish events, no matter how grim the topics, we found plenty of ways to find pockets of humor. There was plenty of laughing in my sessions, especially when I talked about publishing my first novel after the age of fifty.
What was your favorite experience on tour?
I grew up with a slight case of anomie, surrounded by a cultural belief that all-things-Jewish equals families-pushing-one-towards-great-achievement, while, among other family oddities, my grandmother taught me to shoplift. I was unclear what being Jewish meant or if I belonged.
Then I participated in the author’s tour. How to describe the feeling of walking into these fantastic Jewish community centers filled with readers eager to hear from you? I felt as though I were finally meeting every aunt, uncle, and cousin I’d ever wished for. Warmth and love was present everywhere.