Earlier this week, Jennifer Gilmore wrote about the overlap between her personal concerns and writerly concerns. Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
“The Mothers” is the first book I’ve written that does not primarily consist of Jewish characters. It’s a little weird that with my first book — where there are pretty much only Jews, even in the department stores and hotels, at the theater and the market — I had no idea I was writing an American Jewish novel. I was just telling this family’s extensive story. I was writing an American story.
This book is also an American story. But similarly, I had no idea that this book was dealing with “cross cultural issues,” which is what some reviewers and readers have reported. I wrote a book chronicling a couple’s struggle to have children. But what I didn’t realize is that, because they are from different backgrounds — the wife, Jesse, is Jewish, the husband, Ramon, is first generation Italian and Spanish — they handle their highs and lows of their experience differently. Though her family has not been particularly observant, Jesse’s memories and her experiences are distinctly Jewish, in addition to being particularly American. She has memories of Passovers with her family, as well as growing up with her sister in suburban Virginia. She remembers the ’70s when her mother working was an unusual situation. Her mother was one of the few women she knew who held a job.