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Goldie Goldbloom on new book, being a queer Chasidic Jew
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2019-08-21

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Chicago author and queer Chasidic Jew Goldie Goldbloom's newest book is On Division. It centers on the life of Surie Eckstein in Brooklyn, New York and what happens to her when she becomes pregnant but decides to keep it a secret from her family. This secret becomes tangled up with another, earlier secret—the identity of Surie's son, Lipa, who is gay.

Goldbloom told Windy City Times that she wanted to write On Division because it focuses on the difficulties LGBTQ children face in religious communities.

"I never thought I would write anything about something so close to home—but once I started, I realized I had a lot to say," she said.

This past June, Goldbloom's publisher—Farrar, Straus and Giroux—hosted a luncheon at her Chicago home to promote the book. Guests noshed on Goldbloom's homemade kosher delicacies and took home cookies from Emma's Bagel Cafe.

"We decided to hold this pre-publication lunch as an opportunity for local booksellers and media to meet Goldie in person and hear her speak about the book in an intimate setting," said Farrar, Straus and Giroux publicist Chloe Texier-Rose.

"I have never hosted so many booksellers in my home before," said Goldbloom. "It was fun, intimate and a warm, enjoyable time."

This is not Goldbloom's first foray into writing. She has also written the award-winning books Gwen, You Lose These and Other Stories as well as The Paperbark Shoe, currently on the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read list.

Goldbloom was raised in Western Australia in a farming family. Her earliest memories involve her family's farm north of Perth, where they would sleep in old-fashioned hospital beds.

"I had to climb up on a box to get into bed," said Goldbloom. "I used to love jumping from bed to bed and making the spring's crash. I loved putting my cold feet up on the door of the wood burning stove and getting them all toasty. It was a fantastic place and I loved it.

"When I was not north of Perth, I was south, way down in Albany, fishing with my other grandmother, who was a writer … I have always felt that the best fun can be had with your own family, and even today, my best times are spent with my family, whether born to me or chosen."

After college, Goldbloom embarked on a career that included being an editor, contributing editor and freelance writer for a number of magazines and newspapers before becoming a published author in her 40s.

Goldbloom said what drives her to write is her innate curiosity about the world around her, "especially when there are deep problems in the world, as there are now, my mind keeps on making strange connections between the issues and possible solutions. I am a polymath, and I read widely about all kinds of unconnected things, which then become connected in my stories."

Goldbloom lives on Chicago's North Side near Skokie, and has eight children, most of whom are now adults.

"My kids swore me to secrecy about their lives when I became a writer," said Goldbloom. "They said that I cannot write stories about them or speak about them to the newspapers and I think that is fair. What I can tell you is this—they are a wildly eclectic, brilliant mob and I am ridiculously proud of every single one of them."

Goldbloom added that she stayed in Chicago because she likes Lake Michigan and the "wonderfully kind and funny and real Midwesterners."

Outside of writing her books, Goldbloom works for queer visibility in the Chicago Chasidic community.

"I am the only out queer person that I know who is still living a Chasidic life in the community," said Goldbloom. "Queer Orthodox Jews with unaccepting families face a loss of God, hope and community."

Goldbloom calls herself a left-wing religious person who observes all 613 mitzvos ( commandments ), including the way she dresses, eats and is mindful of everything she does, says and writes.

Goldbloom nevertheless enjoys very ordinary pleasures.

"My idea of a fun day might be a swim in the ocean followed by a long read, and then salad on the beach with the kids as we watch the sun go down and the stars come out," said Goldbloom.

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, Goldbloom is set to release her latest fiction book, On Division, and will hold a book launch event at 7 p.m. at Women & Children First, 5233 N. Clark St. To RSVP, visit www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/event/book-launch-party-division-goldie-goldbloom .


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