From the Washington Post columnist and James Beard Award-winning author of Poor Man’s Feast comes a story of seeking truth, acceptance, and self in a world of contradiction…
Treyf: According to Leviticus, unkosher and prohibited, like lobster, shrimp, pork, fish without scales, the mixing of meat and dairy. Also, imperfect, intolerable, offensive, undesirable, unclean, improper, broken, forbidden, illicit.
Fans of Augusten Burroughs and Jo Ann Beard will enjoy this kaleidoscopic, universal memoir in which Elissa Altman explores the tradition, religion, family expectations, and the forbidden that were the fixed points in her Queens, New York, childhood. Every part of Altman’s youth was laced with contradiction and hope, betrayal and the yearning for acceptance: synagogue on Saturday and Chinese pork ribs on Sunday; bat mitzvahs followed by shrimp-in-lobster-sauce luncheons; her old-country grandparents, whose kindness and love were tied to unspoken rage, and her bell-bottomed neighbors, whose adoring affection hid dark secrets.
While the suburban promise of The Brady Bunch blared on television, Altman searched for peace and meaning in a world teeming with faith, violence, sex, and paradox. Spanning from 1940s wartime Brooklyn to 1970s Queens to present-day rural New England, Treyf captures the collision of youthful cravings and grown-up identities. It is a vivid tale of what it means to come to yourself both in spite and in honor to your past.
“A brave and generous memoir, a lucid love letter to her own family’s history that … does the work of a great memoir in piercing the reader’s separateness and reminding us that we are not alone. I love this book.”—Dani Shapiro, author of Signal Fires and Inheritance
“What makes Treyf so original is the author’s wry humor and her gimlet eye. She is expert at evoking time, place and social status. . . . her prose shines. . .”—Wall Street Journal