A Love Letter to Literature, Freedom, and Jewish SurvivalA Fletcher man is releasing a novel based on his family’s history. Rootstock Publishing, a Montpelier-based publisher and imprint of Multicultural Media, Inc., announces the September 21 release of “Horodno Burning,” a historical fiction debut by Michael Freed-Thall. Tim Newcomb, an award-winning graphic designer and cartoonist, designed the book. The cover features Marc Chagall’s “The Flying Carriage” (1913). “Horodno Burning” explores the turbulent history from 1881 to 1914 that led to the migration of one-and-a-half million Jews from czarist Russia to America. Set in the Russian Empire’s Pale of Settlement, the story follows Esther Leving, a brilliant young bibliophile who chafes at male dominance, religious dogma, and antisemitism; and Bernard Garfinkle, a religious Jew and the son of a vodka distiller, who hides a shameful secret — in a culture that worships books, he can’t read. Despite their obvious differences, they fall in love and start a family. When ferocious pogroms target Russian Jews, they must confront this violent oppression. “I was inspired to write ‘Horodno Burning’ by pieces of my family history, which included the arranged marriage between my great-great-grandparents, Estes and Bernard, at ages 12 and 14,” said author Freed-Thall. “The struggles of my ancestors as they fled oppression and pogroms became the backdrop for this novel, which I filled in with research and imagination,” he said. Michael Freed-Thall took up writing after retiring from a 30-year career as a teacher and principal in Vermont schools. He has been active with the Burlington Writers Workshop, Vermont Studio Center, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. He lives in Fletcher with his wife, Patricia, and he is available for readings and events.
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