Jonathan Tropper Never Gave Up on Dream

Family Ties Nurtured Author on Road to Literary Stardom

By Laurie Gwen Shapiro

Published August 23, 2012, issue of August 31, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

When I stepped into the living room of Jonathan Tropper’s large house in the unpretentious Westchester suburb of New Rochelle, I had a nervous pause: Had I caught him at a bad moment? It looked like he had just moved in, and most of his furniture hadn’t yet arrived. The walls were bare, and there was little in the room aside from a sofa, a piano and a pile of books.

Jonathan Tropper
greg yaitanes
Jonathan Tropper

“I’ve actually been here six months,” the 42-year-old author assured me half-apologetically, as he emerged from his home office near the front door. “I just haven’t had time to decorate.”

For a cheat sheet on Jonathan Tropper’s literary oeuvre, check out this post in the Arty Semite blog.

Well, to be fair, Tropper has been busy. He’s preparing for a major promotional tour for the release of his sixth novel, “One Last Thing Before I Go,” and he’s also been commuting to a soundstage in Charlotte, N.C., where he is overseeing the shooting of “Banshee,” a TV crime-noir drama he co-created for Cinemax with writer/director David Schickler, author of “Kissing in Manhattan,” and developed with Alan Ball who wrote “American Beauty” and “Six Feet Under.”

In Tropper’s house, there are a few deeply personal touches: for example, a favorite oil painting of a young boy, which his father gave him, hangs over a fireplace. But there is not much else downstairs. The upstairs bedrooms of his three kids — a 13-year-old son who was bar mitzvahed in January, and two daughters, 10 and 5 —are the only fully-finished rooms. “I’ve put my children’s comfort as my top decorating priority,” Tropper said. “With my schedule, everything else has to wait.”

All Tropper’s comic novels, including the new one, feature a man in crisis as the protagonist, and it’s hard not to look at the author in these barren surroundings without wondering whether he’s another one of the troubled males that have led more than one critic to refer to him as the American Nick Hornby. In the new novel, Drew Silver is a Jewish middle-aged ex-rocker who is a crummy husband and an equally crummy dad. He has so royally messed up his life that he is almost relieved to be diagnosed with a terminal illness. Might there be a whiff of autobiography in Silver? Did Tropper, like Silver in his youth, use the band for meeting women? Tropper smirked. “Well, I played piano in a covers band, but that didn’t especially help with girls. There is never a piano around after the shows. Guys with the guitars were the ones who got lucky,” he said.

Back when he was a kid at Camp Morasha, a co-ed Modern Orthodox sleepaway camp in the Poconos, Tropper played piano for all the camp musical productions. During rehearsals, his homesick younger sister Dassi would run to him and he would hold her tight.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.