Bee Season: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Bee Season by Myra Goldberg is the most original, deeply intelligent novel I've read in a long time. It revolves around a highly neurotic but gifted family, all of whose characters are wonderfully crafted and formed by this amazing writer. We suffer the anguish of nine-year-old Eliza who unexpectedly is immersed in studying for the national spelling bee and jockeying for her place in the family, and the throes of her adolescent brother Aaron, who rebels and embarks on a spiritual quest that is destined to challenge the Jewish mysticism of his father that had never heretofore been questioned. Their mother Miriam is an emotionally vacant, brilliant lawyer who clearly is incapable of nurturing her children, and has a secret life that both repels and invites sympathy because of its human despair. And there is Saul, devoted but also blind to his children and their chaotic reality. This family is one that won't soon be forgotten in the annals of contemporary fiction; their intricate story is spellbinding and heartrending. — Barbara Morrow

This first novel is a delicately written coming-of-age story. 9-year-old Eliza is the misfit in her very gifted family, until she starts sweeping spelling bees. She replaces her brother, Aaron, in her father's attentions, then must order the chaos of the family's disintegrating lives. Myla Goldberg's writing style is refreshingly adventurous, full of the unexpected, as is the story itself. This is an auspicious start to her literary career. — Northshire Staff


Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father's spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer-mom, Miriam. But when Eliza sweeps her school and district spelling bees in quick succession, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, Saul inducts her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks upon a lone quest for spiritual fulfillment. When Miriam's secret life triggers a familial explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.

Myla Goldberg's keen eye for detail brings Eliza's journey to three-dimensional life. As she rises from classroom obscurity to the blinding lights and outsized expectations of the National Bee, Eliza's small pains and large joys are finely wrought and deeply felt.

Not merely a coming-of-age story, Goldberg's first novel delicately examines the unraveling fabric of one family. The outcome of this tale is as startling and unconventional as her prose, which wields its metaphors sharply and rings with maturity. The work of a lyrical and gifted storyteller, Bee Season marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented new writer.

About the Author

Myla Goldberg lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, Jason Little.

Praise For…

"Bee Season is a profound delight, an amazement, a beauty, and is, I hope, a book of the longest of seasons."
—Jane Hamilton, author of A Map of the World and The Book of Ruth

"Myla Goldberg's Bee Season is a bittersweet coming-of-age in which wise little Eliza Naumann's quirky passion for spelling bees unites and divides her family while revealing universal truths about the often crippling pain of love."
—Martha McPhee, author of Bright Angel Time

"There is such joy and pain thrumming inside Myla Goldberg's spelling bees! She delicately captures one family's spinning out by concentrating equally on the beauty and the despair. Bee Season is a heartbreaking first novel."
—Aimee Bender, author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt

"In a story told with unique delicacy and brave inventiveness, a young girl, innocent and all-knowing, learns how much there is to lose, and what it takes to win."
—Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385498807
ISBN-10: 0385498802
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: May 15th, 2001
Pages: 288
Language: English