In The Mystics of Mile End, four distinct voices weave together the tale of a dysfunctional Jewish family obsessed with climbing the Kabbalah's Tree of Life.
Brother and sister Lev and Samara Meyer live in Montreal's Mile End — a mashup of hipsters and Hasidic Jews. They have a fairly typical childhood, other than that their father is distracted, their mother is dead, and down the street Mr. Katz is trying to recreate the Biblical Tree of Knowledge out of plucked leaves, toilet paper rolls, and dental floss.
When their father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism, is diagnosed with an unusual heart murmur, he becomes convinced that his heart is whispering divine secrets. But as David's frenzied attempts to ascend the Tree of Life lead to tragedy, Samara and Lev set out — in separate and divisive ways — to finish what he's started. It falls to next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor Chaim Glassman to shatter the silence that divides the members of the Meyer family. But can he break through to them in time?
Long-held family secrets square off against faith and secularity in this acclaimed debut novel, which is nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award, and which won the Fiction Prize at the Canadian Jewish Literary Awards and the Trade Fiction Book of the Year Award at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards in 2016. Dubbed "a feast to read" by the LA Review of Books, it is reminiscent of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Bee Season by Myla Goldberg.
The Mystics of Mile End is forthcoming in French and Italian translation. In English, it is available for purchase in the US (first row), Canada (second row), UK (third row), and Australia (fourth row):