Elisa Albert's debut story collection marks the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in fiction. In How This Night Is Different, Albert boldly illuminates the struggles of young, disaffected Jews to find spiritual fulfillment. With wit and wisdom, she confronts themes -- self-deprecation, stressful family relationships, sex, mortality -- that have been hallmarks of her literary predecessors. But Albert brings a decidedly fresh, iconoclastic, twenty-first-century attitude to the table.
Holidays, gatherings, and rites of passage provide the backdrop for these ten provocative stories. The characters who populate How This Night Is Different are ambivalent, jaded, and in serious want of connection. As they go through the motions of familial duty and religious observance, they find themselves continually longing for more. In prose that is by turns hilarious and harrowing, Albert details the quest for acceptance, a happier view of the past, and above all the possibility of a future.
From the hormonally charged concentration camp teen tour in "The Living" to the sexually frustrated young mother who regresses to bat mitzvah-aged antics in "Everything But," and culminating with the powerful and uproariously apropos finale of "Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose," How This Night Is Different is sure to titillate, charm, and profoundly resonate with anyone who's ever felt conflicted about his or her faith, culture, or place in the world.
Elisa Albert is the author of the short story collection How This Night is Different and the novel The Book of Dahlia. She has taught creative writing at Columbia University and is currently Writer-in-Residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Holland.
"A dark, witty, and incisive take on modern-day disaffected Jewish youth." -- Variety
"A wonder-inducing blend of sharp humor, religious ambivalence, and caustic wisdom." -- Time Out New York
"What makes How This Night Is Different different is simply the fact that Elisa Albert is a funny and gutsy writer with a knack for locating the absurd poignancy in familiar situations. This is an accomplished, moving, and often risky debut." -- Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land
"Albert's protagonists are young Americans each imbued with an uncannily sharp voice, each boldly confronting their intricately conflicted lives, each looking on the world with convincing lucidity and reacting with moving joie de vivre." -- San Francisco Chronicle
"Albert employs razor-sharp irony to deftly dissect how contemporary life gets tangled with ancient traditions...outrageous and poignant, dark and funny." -- Hartford Courant