Beyond the Pale

  • by Elana Dykewomon
  • Narrated by Elana Dykewomon
  • 15 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Beyond the Pale - winner of the Lambda Literary Award - tells the stories of two Jewish women living through times of darkness and inhumanity in the early 20th century, capturing their undaunted love and courage in luminous and moving prose. The richly textured novel details Gutke Gurvich's odyssey from her apprenticeship as a midwife in a Russian shtetl to her work in the suffrage movement in New York.
Interwoven with her tale is that Chava Meyer, who was attended by Gurvich at her birth and grew up to survive the pogrom that took the lives of her parents. Throughout the story, historical background plays a large part: Jewish faith and traditions, the practice of midwifery, the horrific conditions in prerevolutionary Russia and New York sweatshops, and the determined work of labor unionists and suffragists.


Audible Editor Reviews

Beyond the Pale is a touching, lyrical story that follows two immigrant women from the Pale settlement in Russia to New York. Dykewomom presents a powerful look into the experience of being Jewish and a lesbian, while also looking at the greater immigrant experience against the backdrop of poverty. It's a treat to have the writer herself perform this audiobook. Because they are her own words, she easily captures the rhythms of the poetic language. Meanwhile, her voice is so loving toward the characters that is hard not to be swept away by this beautiful, moving audiobook.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

great historical fiction with a lesbian twist

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to anyone who is into historical fiction, as this gives great insight into the experiences of immigrants in the early 1900's NYC as well as the oppression of Jews in Russian and elsewhere during that time period

What was one of the most memorable moments of Beyond the Pale?

the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire was as memorable as it was upsetting and difficult to read, though wonderfully written. Also the moments detailing the Pograms in Russia were painfully real, beautifully written and so tragic.Through her narration and writing you truly felt right there in the midst of the action, and you mourned the losses of loved ones right along with the main protagonist.

What about Elana Dykewomon’s performance did you like?

It was so incredibly authentic... these stories could have very well been her own stories that she is passing on to me, the listener

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was in tears toward the end, the factory fire... I challenge you to make it through that part of the book (after reading all of the events leading up to it) with a dry eye

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- Kelly

Love the story / performance mixed

I read this book years ago when it was first published, and I loved it then, and I love it now. Elana Dykewoman captures something essential about the immigrant experience - the cultural and political and emotional worlds they experienced, including unbearable trauma and tremendous joy. At the same time, her main characters are navigating the dynamics of belonging and exile and making new home in relation to learning how to be women-loving-women in a world where there is hardly even language and only the barest beginnings of community for them. It is about family and loyalty and being true to yourself in a changing world. And beautifully written.

That said... having an author-read book is always a bit risky. Elana Dykewoman gets some things absolutely right. She has the Yiddish inflection and expressions and pronunciation that are absolutely required for the characters' voices to feel authentic. What she doesn't have is voice acting ability to create characters whose voices sound different on the recording. So there were times when dialogue that would be clear visually on the page became confusing when listing - hard to know who was speaking. Especially where there are changes in who is narrating. Also, there were far more than the usual number of editing glitches - not a huge deal, but noticeable.

Because this book is probably thought of as "niche", I imagine there may not have been a substantial budget for hiring voice talent - so I'm glad Dykewoman made it happen anyway. Revisiting this story in a new way was wonderful, despite the less-than-ideal recording.

It is a very moving and difficult and beautiful story. Well worth it.

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- Karen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-25-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios