The Shovel and the Loom
Carl Friedman

Chaya, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, lives in the old Jewish quarter of Antwerp, Belgium. Twenty years old, a philosophy student (and nonbeliever), she takes care of the children of a Hasidic family by day. At night she stays up reading - Nietzsche, Einstein, the Baal Shem Tov. The more she reads, the less she seems to understand. Does God exist? What does it mean to be a Jew? Chaya questions the reasons for anti-Semitism, the role of women in Judaism, the reasons for suffering. Mr. Apfelschnitt, an old friend of her father, tells Chaya that Creation is a masterpiece, that Science can’t replace God or the Torah. But her father advises her to study physics. Trying to put her Auschwitz past behind her, Chaya’s mother obsesses over baking, tea, and weaving. Her advice to Chaya: go out dancing. 

Finally, it is Chaya’s love for Simeha, the three-year-old boy in her care, that provides the key. She clashes with his tradition-bound father, then propelled by a tragic accident, learns just how much she is tied to her people and her faith. 

“In The Shovel and the Loom, Carl Friedman perfectly accomplishes the delicate task of making unspeakable stories at once accessible and shocking.”
—Katherine Albert, The New York Times Book

“One this is certain: Friedman’s vivid emotional power. Her prose is spare and reticent and her narrative gifts impressive. Among the emerging voices of the second generation of Holocaust survivors she deserves high rank.”
—Robert Taylor, The Boston Globe

Carl Friedman was born in 1952 and now lives in Amsterdam. She is the author of Nightfather and The Gray Lover

Paperback / $12.00 (Can $17.00) / ISBN 978-0-89255-231-3 / 168 pages / Fiction