Nominated by:

Cape Breton Regional Library, Sydney, Canada

Publisher of nominated edition:

William Morrow & Company, USA

The Mystics of Mile End

Sigal Samuel    

“This is not an ordinary tree I am making. This,” he said, “this is the Tree of Knowledge.”

In the half-Hasidic, half-hipster Montreal neighborhood of Mile End, eleven-year-old Lev Meyer is discovering that there may be a place for Judaism in his life. As he learns about science in his day school, Lev begins his own extracurricular study of the Bible’s Tree of Knowledge with neighbor Mr. Katz, who is building his own Tree out of trash. Meanwhile his sister Samara is secretly studying for her Bat Mitzvah with next-door neighbor and Holocaust survivor, Mr. Glassman. All the while his father, David, a professor of Jewish mysticism, is a non-believer.

When, years later, David has a heart attack, he begins to believe God is speaking to him. While having an affair with one of his students, he delves into the complexities of Kabbalah. Months later Samara, too, grows obsessed with the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life—hiding her interest from those who love her most–and is overcome with reaching the Tree’s highest heights. The neighbors of Mile End have been there all along, but only one of them can catch her when she falls.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Sigal Samuel is an award-winning fiction writer, journalist, essayist, and playwright. Currently a writer and editor for the Forward, she has also published work in the Daily Beast, the Rumpus, BuzzFeed, and the Walrus. Her six plays have been produced in theatres from Vancouver to New York. Originally from Montreal, Sigal now lives and writes in Brooklyn. The Mystics of Mile End is her first novel.

Librarian’s Comments

An absorbing combination of Jewish Mysticism and a family’s urban reality as lived in a Montreal neighborhood.

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