A Town of Empty Rooms by Karen E. Bender

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Karen E. Bender burst on to the literary scene a decade ago with her luminous first novel, Like Normal People, which garnered remarkable acclaim.

A Town of Empty Rooms presents the story of Serena and Dan Shine, estranged from one another as they separately grieve over the recent loss of Serena’s father and Dan’s older brother. Serena’s actions cause the couple and their two small children to be banished from New York City, and they settle in the only town that will offer Dan employment: Waring, North Carolina. There, in the Bible belt of America, Serena becomes enmeshed with the small Jewish congregation in town led by an esoteric rabbi, whose increasingly erratic behavior threatens the future of his flock. Dan and their young son are drawn into the Boy Scouts by their mysterious and vigilant neighbor, who may not have their best intentions at heart. Tensions accrue when matters of faith, identity, community, and family all fall into the crosshairs of contemporary, small-town America. A Town of Empty Rooms presents a fascinating insight into the lengths we will go to discover just where we belong.

About Karen E. Bender

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Karen E. Bender is the author of the novel Like Normal People. Her fiction has appeared in magazines including the "New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, Story," and the "Harvard Review," and has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and Best American Mystery Stories. She lives in North Carolina with her family and is currently working on a novel and collection of stories. Nina de Gramont is the author of Of Cats and Men, a collection of short stories. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines including "Isotope, Nerve, Exquisite Corpse, Post Road, "and "Seventeen," and her first novel, Gossip of the Starlings, is forthcoming in 2008. Nina De Gramont teaches fiction at the Harvard Extension School. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, the writer David Gessner.
Published January 1, 2013 by Counterpoint. 352 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Surrounded by Christians, Serena feels her Jewish identity more acutely and gravitates toward the small congregation of Temple Shalom, particularly charismatic but controversial Rabbi Josh Golden;

Oct 11 2012 | Read Full Review of A Town of Empty Rooms

The Boston Globe

“And later, when the security guards showed up at her office, when the lawyers hammered out a deal, when they asked why she had done this, for she had never done it before and did not think she would again, she did not know how to tell them how natural and free it felt, buying up the world with f...

Jan 16 2013 | Read Full Review of A Town of Empty Rooms

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