|Bill Gladstone, Special to the Canadian Jewish News
Monday, November 4, 2013
Lily Poritz Miller
Sumach/Three O’clock Press
Very few novels have been written about the Jewish experience in
South Africa – and yet, astonishingly, only four years ago another
Canadian novelist produced a novel that delved into the same setting
and milieu and featured South African Jewish characters originally
Toronto-based writer Poritz Miller’s debut novel In a Pale Blue Light
focuses on Libka Hoffman, a Cape Town-born daughter of Lithuanian
immigrants who finds herself, in the 1940s, at odds with South
African society. Libka cannot accept South Africa’s racial laws and
her innocent friendships mark her as a social outcast.
Poritz Miller has followed up with a second novel, The Newcomers.
The book again focuses on Libka after she and her family relocate to
a small American town in New England. The family saga now treads
into the postwar era, after the devastation of their loved ones back in
Although not nearly as daring stylistically as Bonert [Kenneth
Bonert’s The Lion Seeker], Poritz Miller creates realistic and
memorable characters, and weaves a gripping tale that ultimately
focuses on Libka’s romantic and life choices: will she settle for a dull,
traditional life partner whom she doesn’t love or perhaps escape to
some unknown future that seems impossible to envision?
Poritz Miller reads from The Newcomers at the Barbara Frum
Library, 20 Covington Rd., Toronto on Nov. 13, 7 to 8:15 p.m. She
will also be interviewed by author Ayelet Tsabari at a book launch
at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St., Nov. 28, 6 to 8 p.m.