The Dead Man


a novel by Nora Gold

Print: 978-1-77133-261-3 – $22.95
ePUB: 978-1-77133-262-0 – $9.99
PDF: 978-1-77133-264-4 – $9.99

288 Pages
April 01, 2016

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  • World Hebrew rights sold to Carmel Publishing, Jerusalem, Israel

The Dead Man is a compelling novel about a woman who is obsessed. Eve, who is both a composer of sacred music and a music therapist, is well aware of the saying, “Physician, heal thyself,” but she just can’t seem to do this. For some unknown reason, she — a sensible, intelligent professional — can’t recover from a brief relationship she had five years ago with a world-famous music critic named Jake. This obsession with Jake is a mystery to Eve’s friends, and also to her. In an attempt to solve this and to put this relationship behind her, she returns to Israel where Jake still lives, and where they first fell in love. There she revisits all their old haunts and struggles to complete the song cycle she started composing five years ago about Jake but hasn’t been able to finish. Gradually the dark mystery behind their complex relationship begins to unravel. This novel, filled with music, dealing with themes of love, loss, and the power of art, will resonate deeply with anyone who has ever loved and lost, and will continue to resound and echo for a long time afterward.

“The Dead Man is a wonderfully affecting, memorable, and original tale. Nora Gold is a natural storyteller, and her ability to make us understand the shimmering and complex landscape of love has its haunting echoes in the Israeli landscape. This is an ingeniously and gorgeously crafted story, radiantly musical in its rich textures.”

– Jay Neugeboren, author of Imagining Robert, Max Baer and the Star of David, etc.

“The Dead Man is terrific. Eve, a composer obsessed with a former lover, pulls us deep into her evolution thanks to astute, compassionate novelist Nora Gold. This compelling story is a must-read for anyone fascinated by the complexity of male-female relationships and the mysterious radioactivity of love.”

– Susan Weidman Schneider, Editor-in-Chief, Lilith Magazine

“Nora Gold’s The Dead Man is a powerful story about a woman’s struggle with love and loss, and how her art—her music—becomes both the expression of and antidote to the darkness she has felt. This is a wonderful story about resilience, about the ability of the human spirit not only to repair and redeem itself, but—even more—to triumph over darkness and adversity.”

– Joseph Kertes, author of Gratitude and The Afterlife of Stars

“Nora Gold’s writing is beautiful, nuanced, and honest. The Dead Man is an intelligent novel about love and art, and the passions that fuel them. Set against the backdrop of contemporary Israel, The Dead Man portrays a talented, obsessed composer, and offers a rare glimpse into the fascinating world of sacred Jewish music.”

– Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Best Place on Earth

“Nora Gold writes with consummate skill. She’s the real thing.”

– George Jonas, author, poet, journalist

“Nora Gold has an eye and ear for colourful detail in this novel about the creative process, lifting the veil on unknown corners of the world of Jewish music.”

– Charles Heller, author of What To Listen For in Jewish Music

International Rights:

World Hebrew rights sold to Carmel Publishing, Jerusalem, Israel

The Dead Man


Nora Gold, born and raised in Montreal, is a prize-winning author. Her recent novel, Fields of Exile, won the 2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and was widely praised, including by Ruth Wisse and Cynthia Ozick. Ozick called Fields of Exile “a brave and luminous book” that she read “with nonstop enthralled admiration.” Gold’s previous book, Marrow and Other Stories, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award (1999), and Alice Munro, after reading the title story, wrote to Gold, saying “Bravo!”

In addition to her writing, Dr. Gold is the founder and editor of the prestigious online literary journal Jewish Fiction.net which, in 18 issues, has published over 300 stories from around the world (including translations from 14 languages) and has readers in 140 countries. Gold is also the Writer-in-Residence and an Associate Scholar at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, where she coordinates the Wonderful Women Writers Series. Last but not least, Gold is involved in activism and community work, currently with the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute in Boston, JSpaceCanada, Heart to Heart, and The Dafna Fund.

She’s never been obsessed before. This is her first time and it’s kind of interesting. It’s like watching some psychopath in a movie, stalking someone, plotting to kill them, except that the psychopath is her. In Canada it’s not so bad — she can’t call Jake from Toronto because he’d see the area code and guess it was her. So it’s only in his country, in Israel (where she’ll be in ninety minutes) that it happens. There she won’t be able to walk by a pay phone without having to wrestle down the desire to do again what she has already done numerous times: Dial his number and then keep silent on the end of the line — an ominous, threatening silence. And then hear the anger mount in his voice as he says, “Hello? Hello? Hello?” And then, when he gets no answer, he’ll slam down the phone with a bang so loud that it hurts her ear. When Jake’s wife answers the phone, though, it’s not anger; it’s fear. Instead of her voice getting stronger and more violent like Jake’s, Fran’s gets smaller and thinner (“Hello? Hello? Hello?”) till at the end there’s almost nothing left of it. It’s a high and squeaky-scared voice, like a mouse or a little girl. On one of the last times, though, instead of going squeaky-scared on her third hello, Fran gathered all her remaining strength and called out “Jake!” in a loud, frightened voice — calling him, Eve knew, from the phone on the kitchen counter to Jake’s study upstairs. Then Eve hung up fast before Jake could come on the line, and stood in front of the orange pay phone on a Tel Aviv street corner, her knees trembling and her hands sweaty..

2 reviews for The Dead Man

  1. inannaadmin

    Established Fiction
    The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by David Staines
    Univeristy of Toronto Quarterly Volume 87 Issue 3, Summer 2018

    Finally, attention should be paid to Toronto’s Inanna Publications in the realm of the novel. Although their books are not yet major works, Inanna’s commitment to quality reveals fiction that is highly individual and worth reading…

    A strongly intelligent novel set mainly in Tel Aviv, Nora Gold’s The Dean Man is the story of Eve, a composer and a musical therapist, who cannot escape the torment of a brief relationship she had five years ago with a famous and married music critic who was fourteen years older than she was. She travels to Israel to confront her lingering obsession. As she visits her old Israeli haunts, she relives her memories of her childhood and, in the course of the novel, finds herself completing her song cycle and putting her obsession to rest in a final telephone call to the critic. Her music becomes the expression of, and antidote to, the darkness encompassing her, showing her ability to triumph ultimately over the lingering and persistent thoughts that have plagued her for five years.


    Hath Not a Jew – a review of The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by MLA Chernoff
    Canadian Literature 232 (Spring 2017): 147-149.

    Nora Gold’s The Dead Man depicts in prosaic fashion the long-lasting effects of a short-lived affair between Eve, a Torontonian music therapist and composer, and Jake, a renowned Israeli music critic who is not only married but definitively psychopathic. After promising Eve a lifetime of love, Jake abandons her, as though their tryst had never happened. The narrative consists of her eventual return to Israel-Palestine for a conference on Jewish music, effectively critiquing the male-dominated and flat-out misogynistic underpinnings of these circles, as Eve struggles to be heard despite her immense talent. No doubt Gold finds solace in the certitude afforded by Liberal Zionism’s fixation on self-actualization and, or as, redemption. In this way, The Dead Mancould easily be read as a plea, a travelogue, and a self-help book, with the crux of the text mirroring the fugue-like intensities of cognitive behavioural therapy, without any closure in sight, as it simultaneously romanticizes and debunks the wiles of emotional abuse.

    Much like Gold’s first novel, Fields of Exile, the text displays a certain disdain for the apparent drabness of diasporic life, from which Eve is eager to flee. Here, Zionism, romance, and the trauma of repeatedly living out one’s Oedipus/Electra complex all intertwine against the backdrop of a pastoral, if not politically and socially sanitized, Israel-Palestine, as two bourgeois melancholics find comfort in the beauty of the land despite their shortcomings as lovers: “Everything is music here.” With this in mind, we can look to the narrative as the anguish of a hampered Aliyah, a Hebrew term which roughly translates to “rising up” and is used to describe the transformation of a person abandoning the supposedly hopeless “exile” of diasporic life in favour of the rootedness of the hermetic nation-state. Because Eve cannot reside with Jake, she must incessantly move to and from Toronto and her would-be Zion, oscillating between lonely profanation and joyous religiosity—in hopeful proximity to the man who is, ultimately, her abuser. Once again, Jewishness is an open question, but this time, both “exile” and “homeland” seem equally agonizing and Aliyah is always, in advance, met by its poignant opposite, yerida—a descent.

    Though the question of Canadianness and its many problematics remains suspended for each of these authors, Jewishness retains an enigmatic and playful role, even amidst the throes of dejection. Like A. M. Klein’s determination to translate Talmudic teachings into the Anglo literary tradition, and vice versa, Ross, Rakoff, and (to a hyperbolic extent) Gold manage to assert their Jewishness and, quite simply, humanize themselves or their characters in the non-Jewish world, pondering and sighing melodically—in the same vein as Klein’s invocation of a certain Shylock—“Hath not a Jew eyes?”


    The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by Merle Eisman Carrus Hollis
    Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal – July 23, 2017

    Nora Gold, an award winning Canadian author for her novel, Field of Exile, which I reviewed here earlier, has again written a captivating plot in The Dead Man. Writing her novels to span the international divide between Toronto and Israel, she has given her readers both a fascinating novel of psychological drama and a travel log of Israel. As the main character, Eve, a music therapist and composer, fantasizes about her failed relationship with Jake, a famous music critic, the reader analyses Eve’s obsession with Jake and why she cannot let go of this unrequited love. Eve and Jake met at a conference and had a short affair. Eve won an award for a piece of music she had written and Jake was impressed with her talent and youthfulness. She is a fifty year old widow with two sons back home in Toronto, to his sixty-five years, married with two grown daughters. As we learn the story of his life in flashbacks and memories of their time together, we see him emerge as a narcissistic, egocentric man. After many years now of not being able to release herself from her connection to Jake, Eve comes to Israel for her annual conference for music therapists and presents Jake as a case study for analysis. As the groups talk about his psychological makeup, you begin to wonder what is wrong with Eve that she cannot end her connection to him. She does not seem to be able to move forward from this affair. We hear her thoughts….”But even more than all that, it started to get creepy. Creepy hearing Jake’s rage and Fran’s fear. Instead of feeling powerful and in control, Eve began feeling powerless and out of control. She wasn’t doing this anymore out of her own free will; it had turned into an obsession. A compulsion. An obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Reading this novel was a little like reading some of the other popular books of the day, Girl on The Train and Gone Girl among others. The reader gets inside Eve’s head hearing this story from her point of view and begin to wonder about her psychological state as she reviews the relationship with Jake and the last five years since their relationship ended though he promised to get back to her within that time and has not. While the readers are following Eve through her memories they are taken on a trip through Jerusalem and to the kibbutz where her cousins live. Gold gives an evocative descriptions of the assignation between Jake and Eve which leave the readers worried about Eve’s state of mind and Jake’s life, is he dead or alive and will he be alive at the end of this novel? But also, Gold describes very vividly the places in Israel. Gold brings the readers into the novel so that they feel as being there watching Eve sits on the porch on her cousin’s kibbutz, and into her mind as she replays the rendezvous with Jake in the King David Hotel during their stay and four day fling, eating with them in their room. She brought them a little of everything from the beautifully laid-out buffet, the “shulchan aruch,” in the hotel dining room. There was smoked salmon, herring, whitefish, and carp, cut-up carrots, radishes, onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes, breads, rolls, and pastries, jams, jellies, marmalades, and spreads, four flavours of yogurt, seven varieties of cheese, olives green and black, eggs prepared any way you wanted, pancakes, waffles, and moussaka, fresh-squeezed juices (orange, grapefruit, or apple), a bowl of dates, figs, raisins, and sunflower seeds, an enormous platter of pineapple, melons, and berries, and coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. That buffet was the epitome of Abundance, Beauty, and Diversity.” The food description is mouth-watering, the kibbutz descriptions leave the readers wandering through the avocado grove and the relationship descriptions leave them apprehensively sitting on the edge of the chair.


    Travels Across Uncomfortable Terrain: Nora Gold’s The Dead Man
    reviewed by Maria Bloshteyn
    Los Angeles Review of Books – April 17, 2017

    If you believe in the value of travelling beyond one’s comfort zones, you’ll find much to support your belief in Nora Gold’s most recent novel, The Dead Man (2016). Gold is a Toronto-based writer who has a history of venturing into fraught terrain. Her first novel, Fields of Exile (2014) — she debuted with a short story collection that won praise from Alice Munro — dealt with anti-Israel sentiment on university campuses, which marries all too well with outright Judeophobia. The Dead Man, Gold’s second novel, examines the erotic longings of elderly men, obsessions of women deep into their middle age, and creative impotence. Throw in widowhood, manipulative stepmothers, needy wives, and therapy (music therapy, but still…), and you have a cringe-worthy melange that pushes almost every reader’s buttons. Yet it is precisely by adventuring in such difficult emotional terrain that Gold achieves something beautiful, transformative, and life-affirming.

    Gold’s heroine, the 55-year-old Eve, is a Jewish Canadian composer who, despite some early success, is unable to get her music out into the world. As it happens, she is also a stalker, haunted by a brief relationship she had five-and-a-half years earlier with Jake, a famous Israeli music critic then just entering his old age. Although Jake brusquely cuts her off when he realizes she could cost him his marriage and his comfortable life, Eve hopes to restart the affair on whatever terms he finds acceptable. She calls him compulsively, only to hang up, and ultimately travels to Israel in hopes of connecting with him.

    Eve is also a music therapist. In a classic case of physician heal thyself, she tries to apply everything she’s learned in therapy to understand both Jake (presenting him, at one point, as a case study in a therapy seminar) and her own needs and compulsions. Eve’s external and internal gaze is both unflinching and compassionate. When they become lovers, Jake is concerned that his wrinkles, his oldness, will be turn-offs for Eve, and, in truth, when she first sees his body — “old, bony, desiccated” without a single hair on it — she wants “simultaneously to laugh and to vomit.” But — as she tells him later — she doesn’t look at his age, but at his essential self. It turns out, however, that what she’s seeing isn’t only a heavily idealized version of Jake, but also her projection of everything that she was given and denied as a child. In a nice twist, after looking at an old photo Eve is shocked to realize that Jake’s mouth is identical to that of her mother, who died when Eve was just a toddler, and that the intensity of her grief at being abandoned by Jake (and, perhaps, her initial attraction to him) stems in part from her longing for her mother.

    The figure of a lecherous old man who is attracted to “young flesh” (actually, these are the words Jake’s jealous wife Fran uses to describe Eve) is at least as old in English literature as Chaucer’s “sir old dotard,” who lusts after the young Wife of Bath. Jake, however, resists easy categorization. He might well be a psychopath, as Eve’s seminar leader insists, and he might well have needed Eve as an erotic symbol, or, more darkly, as a weapon for him and his wife to hurt each other with — the third “razor-sharp edge” to their triangle. All the same, his flaws and his needs (from his lonely, difficult childhood onward) make him all too vulnerably human, and it is clear that the role Eve played in his life was also multi-faceted, involving deeper feelings on his part than just lust. He might have made Eve into a symbol, but then he was a symbol for Eve too — a symbol of everyone she wanted to stay close to and of all the losses she had to weather in her life: the sudden death of her mother, alienation from her father (thanks to an evil stepmother), and the loss of her husband, who died of a heart attack at the age of 42. When Eve is finally able to lay the relationship with Jake to rest, to allow Jake to die (metaphorically speaking), she is finally free to mourn all the people she loved and lost but never fully let go.

    Both Eve and Jake are Jewish, with a strong connection to Israel. Jake had settled in Israel as a young married man, Eve has family in Israel and has considered (and still considers) immigrating. The meaning of Jewishness, whether as a marker of personal identity or of a category of art (Jewish music and Jewish painting), is an important subtext in the novel. Once again, Gold cannot be accused of reductionism — Jewish identity is presented in all its many contradictions (she is, among other things, the editor of Jewish Fiction. net where she must have many firsthand opportunities to see the complexities of Jewish identity at work). Jake, who is religiously indifferent, disapproves of Eve’s active faith; she attends a synagogue where there is no cantor and where women can also lead the prayer services. But Eve’s faith does not lead her to question the ethics of her relationship with a married man. There is no end to bad Jewish art — ditto for bad Jewish music: Eve is disgusted to see junk art displayed in an Israeli art gallery, what she calls “the seventh-rate imitation of Chagall”; Jake hates the “utter mediocrity” of some Jewish musical compositions. Conferences on Jewish music proliferate, but Jewish composers have radically different views on whether there really is such a thing as a Jewish composer; one composer explains helpfully that he is not a Jewish musician, he is just a musician, to the ire of another composer who quips that she didn’t have to come to a conference to learn that Jewish composers are also human.

    Eve, who does identify herself as a Jewish composer, has been struggling with a musical composition — a love and hate cycle, as she calls it at one point — based on her relationship with Jake. Parts of it won’t fit together properly and it has no conclusion. When Eve realizes, after much struggle, introspection, and recovered memories, that she is free of Jake, the conclusion comes by itself. She hears a mourning dove coo outside and weaves its song into her composition.

    Indeed, one especially delightful thing about the novel is the close attention paid to the auditory landscape around Eve, the way voices, trees, and bird song become transformed into musical notes in her mind. At the very end of the novel, the taxi driver who comes to drive Eve to the airport has his car horn fixed up to sound like a Shofar’s blasts on the Jewish High Holidays — arguably the most ancient form of Jewish music. The blasts, sounded outside their original religious context, and played upon a non-instrument for a completely different function than originally intended, raise many questions and evoke rich associations, embodying perfectly the contradictions and the challenges of reinventing a Jewish art of any kind within a contemporary context.

    More importantly, upon hearing the blasts Eve realizes, “Everything is music here. Everything is music everywhere.” Everything she experienced in her life — the losses, the painful relationships — enters the great musical score of which she is both the protagonist and the co-creator. Earlier in the novel, Jake criticizes another composer for concluding his composition by just tying it up “with a big phony bow. One of those pat, conventional endings.” By contrast, the conclusion of The Dead Man is anything but pat and conventional — it elevates and transforms all the events of the novel. It is as if Eve and the reader had travelled a tortuous terrain, paying attention to every step but not noticing that they were ascending. Now that the summit has been reached, the look back reveals not ugliness but beauty.


    ‘Almost Perfect Symmetry’: An Interview with Nora Gold
    Trevor Corkum,The Winnipeg Review -January 16, 2017

    Dr. Nora Gold is a prize-winning writer and the author of three books: The Dead Man, Fields of Exile (winner of the 2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Award and praise from Cynthia Ozick), and Marrow and Other Stories (winner of a Canadian Jewish Book Award and praise from Alice Munro). In addition, Gold is the founder and editor of the prestigious online literary journal Jewish Fiction .net, and the Writer-in-Residence at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) – University of Toronto, where she started and hosts The Wonderful Women Writers Series.

    Nora Gold’s new novel The Dead Man explores the shadowy terrain of emotional obsession. Eve, a composer of sacred music and a music therapist, returns to Israel for a professional workshop only to find herself haunted by memories of a profound and devastating relationship. While Eve wanders the bustling streets of Jerusalem, she struggles to make sense of her tumultuous connection to Jake. It’s a book that asks important questions about the difficult roots of attachment and the complex work involved in healing our emotional wounds.

    The Dead Man explores the emotional torment of a music therapist named Eve, as she attempts to put the memories of a powerful relationship behind her. How did the novel first announce itself to you?

    The idea for this novel first came to me thanks to a night of insomnia. One night I couldn’t sleep, so at three a.m. I started channel surfing, and soon found myself watching the middle of a compelling movie that I subsequently discovered was called Play Misty For Me. In case you don’t know it, this is a 1971 film directed by, and featuring, Clint Eastwood, about a disc jockey who’s being stalked by a female fan who is obsessed with him. I don’t remember much more than that about it, but I do recall my reaction at the time. I watched this young woman stalking this man, and I wondered, What does she think this man—or his love, or admiration—can do for her? What does she think he can give her, or make her into? What belief is underlying this desperate behaviour?

    Being a feminist, of course the answer I came up with was that this young woman lacked feminist consciousness. She doesn’t understand, I thought, that her well-being does not (and cannot) depend upon a man, or on any other human being. If she knew that, I thought back then, then she wouldn’t, couldn’t, be obsessed like this with a man. In other words, I understood her obsession to be a failure of feminist consciousness—of not having the correct understanding of the world and her place in it.

    Before encountering this film, I had never really thought about obsession, and it had never particularly interested me. But now it started percolating at the back of my mind while I did, and wrote, other things. And as time passed, I revisited my assessment of the young woman in that movie, and decided that my conclusion had been too simple, maybe even simplistic. I realized, from looking around me and from reading a bit about it, that obsessiveness, as a phenomenon, can strike anyone. Even a feminist—someone with a crystal clear understanding of sexism in the world—could become obsessed with a man. And I found this intriguing: the complexity of the relationship between the mind (with its ideologies) and the heart (with its own set of beliefs). So that was the genesis of this novel.

    I was very drawn to your exploration of Eve’s intense, many-years-long obsession with her ex-lover, Jake. You describe the powerful hold unrequited love can claim in our private minds and psyches. As a writer, what were the most challenging aspects of developing Eve’s character?

    The most challenging aspects of developing Eve’s character were having to enter into, and inhabit, the inner life of an obsessed person, and try and understand why, and how, someone becomes—and then remains—obsessed. Obsession exacts enormous costs from an individual (emotionally, psychologically, creatively and in terms of wasting whole years of one’s life), so it was a challenge for me to fathom why anyone would hold on to an obsession rather than finding a way to let it go.

    Initially, like some of Eve’s friends, I was quite impatient with her, wanting her to just get over Jake and move on with her life. But once I imagined my way into Eve’s inner world—a torturous world that was not easy to inhabit for the duration of writing this novel—I found that Eve made sense to me, and I could see her on her own terms and accept her as a full character worthy of my respect and compassion. Only at that point did I start to feel that perhaps I could do justice to the depth of this character, in all her complexity and integrity.

    Speaking of Eve’s inner world, she’s an artist, and like any artist, this terrain comes with its own triumphs and self-doubts. She’s a composer, and deeply immersed in the world of Jewish music. Throughout the novel, music—in particular, sacred music—plays an important role in how we learn about Eve and her changing relationship with Jake. How much research was involved in creating and exploring this particular musical world? Were there any personal highlights for you from that research?

    This is a question I am often asked about The Dead Man. In fact, though, I didn’t do any research at all for this novel. I am a music lover and always have been. I love almost every kind of music and have been listening to, and learning about, music ever since I can remember. So when I wrote the musical aspects of this novel, I just drew on knowledge that I already had.

    Staying with the topic of art and creative communities, your portrayal of the dynamics within the Jewish music community may ring familiar to many other creative communities: there are rivalries, jealousies, shifting allegiances, ongoing competition and struggle for recognition. Powerful positions are occupied mainly by older men (like Jake), and it’s within this web of power that Eve struggles to advance her own career. In addition to writing, you’re also currently Writer in Residence at the Centre for Women’s Studies in Education (CWSE) within OISE at the University of Toronto. I know it’s a large and complicated question, but how far do you feel we’ve come in terms of achieving equality and true equity within the Canadian literary community, and what work remains to be done?

    This is a large and complicated question, so in the space available here, I can only touch the tip of the iceberg. Not just in our literary community but in Canadian society as a whole, power has historically resided with white, Christian males, and vestiges of this still remain. I believe, though, that we now live in a much more diverse and equitable world than previously, thanks in large part to the enormous efforts of many Canadians over the past three or four decades. If we look at who is writing the books published in Canada today, the rich diversity of Canadian writers is undeniable, and this diversity is the direct result of increased equity. I have spent much of my adult life fighting oppression in various forms, so I am delighted by this change, and think it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate it.

    At the same time, of course, there is always more work to be done. One area that’s rarely discussed and that I think could use more attention is ageism. This is obviously not unique to the literary community; Canadian society as a whole (like many other societies) is youth-worshipping and ageist. But I see this as a problem for our community specifically because ageism sometimes results in the marginalization of our older writers in ways that are subtle but real.

    Finally, speaking more conceptually, I think the dynamics of power and powerlessness are much deeper and more complex than many people realize. In my view, focusing only on the “isms” (important as they are) is an incomplete approach to fostering equity and inclusiveness. For example, I recently heard from a number of white, Christian male writers that in our current climate, they not only feel, but sometimes are (by any objective standard) excluded. In a way, this situation is not surprising: the pendulum always swings back and forth, and the pendulum right now is where it is. But I think if we really want to promote the health and vibrancy of our literary community, we need to be very vigilant, thoughtful and nuanced in our strategies. Only if we are will we be able to build a community that is genuinely inclusive, and that doesn’t inadvertently just replace one set of exclusions with another.

    I’m intrigued by the structure of The Dead Man. The book is divided into three sections and feels itself much like a music composition. How intentional was this structure, and were there technical challenges over the course of its execution?

    The musical structure of The Dead Man was definitely intentional. I wanted to infuse music into this novel as much as possible, and I realized that one way to accomplish this would be to actually build this novel in the structure of a musical composition. One of my favourite musical forms is the sonata, so this was a logical choice to use. Sonatas typically consist of three main sections: an exposition, a development and a recapitulation, and I loved the idea of opening my novel with a specific theme, in the second section developing this theme further, and ending the work with a return to the original theme (though in a modified way). This structure really resonates with me because it underscores how, when we revisit something in life—a place, a person, whatever—the experience may be similar in certain ways to the original one, but it is never exactly the same. Over time the original theme has been developed, and therefore altered. So in the act of revisiting, the form is not a circle but a spiral. Still, it is a kind of “coming home” to return, at the end of a book, to the place where we started. It is satisfying. So this is how I arrived at the titles of the three main sections of The Dead Man: Exposition, Development, and Recapitulation.

    In terms of technical challenges, something that wasn’t exactly a technical challenge but did worry me at one point was that these three main sections seemed quite unequal in length. The exposition was 113 pages, the development thirty-three, and the recapitulation 110. In a sonata, the three movements do not have to be exactly the same length, but the numbers of these pages struck me as rather unbalanced. When I examined this more closely, though, I realized that there was balance in this “composition”—in fact, almost perfect symmetry. The first and last sections are virtually identical in length (113 pages and 110). It was only the middle section (thirty-three pages), that seemed disproportionate. So this got me thinking about time, and how sometimes, in a very small space of time, enormous changes can occur within a person. For example, Eve’s entire life is transformed in just a few days in Israel—and in fact this happens during the Development section of The Dead Man, the shortest part of this novel. So it is possible to experience something so meaningful or intense that it changes your whole life, even though it happened in just a day, an hour, or a moment. The Greeks acknowledged linguistically that the significance of an experience doesn’t necessarily correspond to how long it takes, by using two different words for “time”: chronos and kairos. Chronos is chronological time, whereas kairos is the kind of time when something of significance occurs. So in retrospect, I think that when writing The Dead Man (though I wasn’t conscious of it then), I made use of both of these kinds of time (chronos and kairos), and in this way provided symmetry to my novel, and also varied the rhythm of its music.

    I love the distinction you make here with time. That’s a helpful lens through which to consider the novel. I wanted to turn now to your other activities. In addition to your own writing, you’re also the editor of the online fiction journal Jewish Fiction. net, a journal devoted to the work of Jewish writers from around the world. How did the project come into being? Can you talk more about your vision for the journal?

    The initial impetus, six years ago, for Jewish Fiction. net came from my realization that the crisis in the publishing industry, caused by the advent of digital technology, was having a particularly adverse effect on writers of Jewish fiction. Of course, all writers were affected by this crisis, but its implications were even more severe for authors (like those writing Jewish fiction) whose work was considered to have a niche market. Very quickly there was a dramatic reduction in the number of houses willing to publish this kind of work, unless the author was already very well-established. I became concerned about what was going to happen to all the great fiction sitting in the drawers of talented emerging writers, and the possibility that these stories might get lost. So I created Jewish Fiction.net, an online literary journal where first-rate Jewish-themed fiction from around the world could find a home and receive the kind of attention and visibility it deserved.

    When I founded Jewish Fiction .net, it was the only English-language journal in the world, either in print or online, devoted exclusively to the publishing of Jewish fiction. It still is. We are proud of that, and also of having published, in our first eighteen issues, 300 first-rate stories or novel excerpts on Jewish themes (either written in, or translated into, English, but never before published in English). These works were originally written in fourteen languages (Italian, Spanish, French, English, Hungarian, Russian, Romanian, Serbian, Turkish, Polish, Croatian, Hebrew, Ladino and Yiddish) and we have readers in 140 countries.

    We are also honoured that Jewish Fiction .net has published fiction by some of the most eminent Jewish writers of our time, such as Elie Wiesel, Aharon Appelfeld, and Savyon Liebrecht (to name just a few), as well as many fine writers not yet well-known. In both groups of writers, Canadians are represented, including George Jonas, Morley Torgov and Chava Rosenfarb. It is a source of pride to us that our internationally respected journal is based in Toronto, and is Canadian.

    In terms of my vision for Jewish Fiction .net, this journal, since its inception, has always had a social vision alongside its literary one. For years I have been deeply concerned about the divisions, divisiveness, and polarizations within the Jewish world, so a prominent feature of Jewish Fiction .net is its diversity and inclusiveness. We have made a point of publishing fiction by authors who are secular and religious (“religious” encompassing all the streams of Judaism), Ashkenazi and Mizrahi, right-wing and left-wing, old and young, female and male, economically privileged and disadvantaged, community-affiliated and community-alienated, LGBTI and straight, and from Israel and the Diaspora. We have even published fiction by non-Jewish authors who have written excellent Jewish-themed stories. So Jewish Fiction .net is a place where all voices can be heard.

    In another expression of our commitment to inclusiveness, Jewish Fiction .net subsists entirely on donations so has always been free of charge for its readers, therefore accessible to all. Our journal is run entirely by volunteers (myself included), and I feel lucky to be working on Jewish Fiction .net with an amazing team of volunteers. Recently one of them told me that she thinks of Jewish Fiction .net as a gift to the world, and I realized I feel this way, too, as do many other people. I am frequently surprised and gratified by the outpourings of appreciation and affection that Jewish Fiction .net receives. This journal happens to be a very labour-intensive project for me, but it is truly a labour of love.

    Finally, what are you working on currently? Any new projects we can look forward to reading?

    I am currently working on something new, which until recently I thought was going to be a collection of linked stories, but which now seems to be telling me it wants to be a novella, or maybe even a novel. It keeps changing under my hand, yet the mood of it and the issues it deals with remain constant, so I do know what it is “about.” Very, very broadly: solitude, community and the interaction of these two things.


    The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by Annie
    Left on the Shelf – January 5, 2017

    The Dead Man is a compelling novel about a woman who is obsessed.

    Eve, a composer of sacred music and a music therapist, is well aware of the saying, “Physician, heal thyself,” but she just can’t seem to do this. For some unknown reason, she — a sensible, intelligent professional — can’t recover from a brief relationship she had five years ago with a world-famous music critic named Jake. This obsession with Jake is a mystery to Eve’s friends, and also to her.

    In an attempt to solve this mystery, she “returns to the scene of the crime”, Israel, where Jake still lives, and where they first fell in love. There she revisits all their old haunts and struggles to complete the song cycle she started composing five years ago about Jake but hasn’t been able to finish. Gradually the dark mystery behind their complex relationship begins to unravel.

    Eve discovers the forgotten childhood memories, losses, and desires that are encapsulated in her connection to Jake. And then, inspired by all the music she hears around her (including the singing of birds, the crying of babies, and the honking of cars), she succeeds in finally completing her song cycle and setting her obsession to rest.

    I was enthralled by this book and read it in a couple of days. Written with an intensity worthy of the obsession and introspection that the protagonist exhibits. Dr. Gold has created a book filled with love, longing and loss.

    Set in Israel, the descriptions are rich in atmosphere and give a real sense of being there. Dr. Gold has used music as a means of demonstrating Eve’s intensity and emotional depth as well as an understanding of the significance that Israel itself has upon her.

    Initially, I was confused by the title but eventually it made sense and sums up everything that the novel is about. I felt very satisfied by the end of the book. I don’t want to say more and thus give the ending away but ultimately I felt uplifted and sanguine by this book.

    I think that this book will remain with me for a long time. It is impossible to read a book so laced with emotional pain and not feel affected. However, the path of self discovery throughout the book is sensitively portrayed and made me consider how there are times in the lives of us all when we are able to find an inner strength when we think we have none.

    This is the first time I have read any of Dr. Gold’s writing and am delighted to find a ‘new to me’ author who writes with such intelligence, sensitivity and passion. I am very much looking forward to reading more of her work.


    The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by MacKenzie Hamilton
    New Pages – December 1, 2016

    Obsession is a nasty beast whose claws sink deep and anchor inside its victims. Nora Gold’s book, The Dead Man, follows a heartbroken Eve Bercovitch, who has spent the last five years bleeding out in the grips of her obsession. The Dead Man straps readers into the passenger’s seat of a roller coaster ride through the world of Israeli music. Gold weaves a narrative so intricate that readers everywhere will find themselves questioning the reality of this world. Eve is the perfectly imperfect vehicle through the wild world that’s unearthed inside these pages.

    Jake, a world famous music critic, is the center of Eve’s world, even when she’s an ocean away and it’s been five years since the two of them have so much as spoken. Exactly five years after their breakup, Eve finds herself back in Israel for a music therapy conference. Her suffering has taken a huge toll on her musical creativity and she believes that being back where it all began may help her find the ending to the piece of music she’s been working on for years. Instead, she spends her time wondering what Jake is doing and whether he’s thinking of her, while also fighting the urge to dial his number at every payphone she passes.

    “Fantasy isn’t reality. These two things have to be kept very clearly apart. This is all that keeps the world from spinning madly out of control and exploding into a million particles in outer space.” It isn’t long before Eve realizes that her relationship with Jake may not have been as healthy as she thought. Her therapy meetings bring to light the fact that she may have chosen not to see the dangerous clues that were laid out in front of her.

    Eve has a number of revelations during her time in Israel, two of the largest having to do with her parents and her mourning practices (or lack thereof). Eve grew up embracing the idea that remembering someone is the only way to keep them alive, even when they’re dead. Eve had a short relationship with her mother because she passed when Eve was a young girl; her father quickly remarried a woman who wanted nothing to do with Eve. This destroyed their close relationship and it only got rockier as she grew up. It is on her trip to Israel that she finally deals with the past and mourns the death of her familial relationships of her past.

    “I don’t want fantasy anymore, she thinks. I want reality. In the end, despite all its limitations, it’s better and safer than this imaginary world I’ve been living in for the past few years.” Eve digs her way out of the past she’s been stuck in while rediscovering her musical side in her favorite place in the world. Though she finds this city riddled with painful memories, she figures out it’s exactly what she needed to heal herself as well as complete the song cycle that has been lying unfinished for years.

    Nora Gold throws her readers into an exhilarating world of Israeli music and adds in an affair, daddy issues, and PTSD to keep the readers on the edge of their seats. The writing is lyrical and elegant and story itself is one that won’t soon be forgotten. This book will capture the hearts of readers, musicians, and travelers alike.


    The Dead Man by Nora Gold

    reviewed by Carol Ricker-Wilson
    Canadian Woman Studies/les cahiers de la femme – fall 2016

    Nora Gold’s The Dead Man is as impressive, as was her first novel, Fields of Exile, in its thought-provoking subject matter. In Fields, Gold focused on antisemitism in the academy. In The Dead Man, she ventures into the literary terrain of women and madness.

    Gold exploits the tropes of that most gendered genre, romance (in which the emotional angst of a female protagonist is given primacy, the socio-political world figures largely as the backdrop to an intense and ever-anxious love affair, and a seemingly troubled but fascinating man–somewhat above her in station–is ultimately understood), to write a ”horror” story of an inability-or refusal-to overcome an obsession.

    Widowed , fiftyish Eve, a music therapist and composer, is the fraught protagonist, who, five years after being unceremoniously dumped by email, perpetually fluctuates between recognizing the gross flaws of her former lover, Jake, and denying their depth and magnitude, as she parses every moment of their past relationship in order to determine if he ever really loved her. The tale presents a litany of her emotional excesses. In the first paragraph she’s contemplating whether to subject Jake to her fortieth or so act of phone harassment. She subsequently recalls her distress, during the relationship, when his attention was temporarily focused on driving or chopping vegetables, rather than on her. She wanted “to lose herself in him, like an infant with a parent” (219). He remains the constant subject of her major musical compositions.

    Women’s “madness” in the history of literary texts, be it a real psychic state or a label imposed on them, takes on a host of forms, but it is frequently and robustly interpreted by feminist critics as a consequence of their desire for—transgression against the dominant socio-sexual order. Simplistically stated, their circumstances have rendered them the victims of patriarchy or masculocentrism. But Gold demonstrates that Eve is largely a victim of her efforts to positively buttress traditional social norms about masculinity, despite their detrimental effects, and even as she espouses a counter discourse.

    Specifically, at one point, Eve provides for Jake a definition of the recognizably liberal feminism to which she ascribes: “…we believe that women deserve full equality—economically, legally, in every way.” She notes the ways in which the dominant structure of the family benefit men, the need for its reorganization, and concludes “it’s a matter of women having self-respect, and not undervaluing themselves. And employers treating women and men as equals.” And Jake, hearing (for the first time?) that feminism isn’t “anti-men,” says he could live with that. And Eve is momentarily happy with that because it might indicate “not just that he could live with feminism, but whether he could live with her.

    As it it’s easy to change one’s most ingrained desires and behaviours. As if it’s easy to find a partner interested in “reorganizing”
    relationships. In reality, in experiencing how awful Jake was, Eve repeatedly engages in major work to prop him up. When he mentioned pushing his wife into a wall once when he was frustrated, “She nodded. Not saying it okay he’d hit her, just that she understood his frustration” (216). And she insists on constructing him as a paragon of masculinity. Initially repulsed by Jake’s hairless body, “as the mind flips around when you’re in love, it went from seeming to her like a defect, to being something desirable, even a sign of his innate superiority…More spiritual and sensitive. A higher kind of Man” (207).

    Gold bleakly articulate what it means to be the fragmented subject of confliction ideologies: feminism and masculocentrism. Eve more or less uses feminism as a “pull down” menu: I want this and want that…but not that.” Consequently, her desire for parity and self-respect is continually undermined by her desire for Jake. Through her portrayal of Eve, Gold effectively highlights the psychic consequences when the historically entrenched, culturally tenacious construction of desire is such that straight women, particularly when they possess the social and economic capital to do otherwise, continue to be attracted to the romantic lead of yore: a man with greater such capital, even if he is the latter, as represented by Jake, demonstrates the personality traits of a psychopath.

    At the novel’s resolution, Eve declares Jake “dead” to her, but is he? Or will she just keep trying (not) to get over him?


    The Dead Man
    [book review]
    reviewed by
    Olivia’s Catastrophe (blog) – October 9, 2016

    The Dead Man was an incredible read which I consumed in just three days. Sometimes, there’s a book which just comes to you at the perfect moment, and this was the book I needed. I needed a break from YA, and something a bit more adult and a bit more grounded in reality.

    What this book really did for me was reawaken my passion for writing. But that’s not what the protagonist, Eve, has a passion for. Eve has a passion for composing music and lives to continue working on this in her life. She listens to music, hears it as she walks along the street and writes it whenever she feels inspired. From reading the book you gather how immersed she is in the musical world, and it strongly reminded me of what it means to truly love what you are passionate about. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that with reading and writing, but this book managed to make me find it again. I can’t wait to be fully immersed in my own passion again.

    This novel is also grounded in culture. The protagonist of the novel is Jewish, and the entire story is occurring while she is in Israel. Some of the descriptions we get of the country are beautiful, and I did get to know quite a bit about Judaism – a religion I admit I don’t know much about. Although there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of it in the novel, it still was present enough for it to set a tone to the novel.

    This was also the first novel I’ve ever read about an obsession with a relationship. It was entirely new to me, and I have to admit it is what intrigued me most about this book. What deepens this obsession is that Eve was ‘the other woman’ as we say these days, and was fully conscious of the fact that Jake had a marriage as they had their affair. It astonishes me that she can’t let it go, and what she does in her mind. Gradually throughout the novel, more hints and clues are revealed as to while she feels this way. When every piece of the puzzle has been put together, it wasn’t quite the mind blowing revelation I expected. But I wasn’t disappointed either because this answer was realistic and so plausible it was hard for me to think that the ‘mystery’ behind her obsession could have been anything else. I should’ve known.

    I do think that some will find how much she goes on and on about Jake annoying or too repetitious. It didn’t go that way for me because there was meaning behind every recount of old memories and every time he was mentioned. But maybe this stylistically, isn’t for everyone, and I feel that’s why it’s worth me mentioning in this review.

    I loved Gold’s writing style. It was beautiful. This novel is truly a piece of literature. Maybe because I was reading between my essay writing as steady breaks, but my literature analysis mode was on and I could see so much clever symbolism inserted when she connects small everyday life to happenings of more weight. Reading this, I could see how clever the author had been in everything they had written, and it made me appreciate the novel even more. I think I would even enjoy analyzing this book.

    The ending wrapped up beautifully. The imagery, the meaning, the title and the music – everything made sense all at once. And once I’d turned the last page I had this ultimate feeling of satisfaction. Of course, I am eager to read more works by Nora Gold. A fantastic book I highly recommend.


    Book Review: A novel of obsession set in the world of Israeli and Jewish music
    reviewed by Michael Regenstreif
    Ottawa Jewish Bulletin – August 17, 2016

    In her 2014 novel, Fields of Exile, Toronto-based author Nora Gold wrote powerfully about the difficult subject of anti-Zionism on contemporary university campuses. Her latest work of fiction, The Dead Man, delves into middle-aged love and, particularly, obsession.

    Eve Bercovitch, a widow and mother of grown children, is a 55-year-old music therapist and composer of Jewish sacred music from Toronto. Six years earlier, she’d had a brief, but very intense love affair in Israel with Jake Gladstone, an older, married Israeli music critic she’d met at a Jewish music conference.

    Although Eve and Jake had spent barely more than a couple of weeks together in Israel, and a few months more corresponding by email before Jake, feeling guilty about the effect of the affair on his marriage, called it off, Eve has spent the intervening years in constant obsession over him – to the point that her work as a composer has been at a standstill.

    Eve visits Israel regularly over the years and fantasizes about calling him and rekindling their aborted romance. Whenever she passed a payphone during her trips to Israel, Eve dialed Jake’s number. She would hear the sound of his voice when he answered the phone and then hang-up too frightened to speak.

    The Dead Man unfolds during Eve’s latest trip to Israel to attend a music therapy workshop in Jerusalem. Once there, Eve discovers there is also a Jewish music conference going on at the same time and adjusts her schedule to attend both events, thinking it likely history will repeat itself: she will encounter Jake at the conference, and their romance will be rekindled.

    Much of the book is spent in Eve’s memories as she relives the affair with Jake, remembering every detail of their brief days together. Almost everywhere she goes in Israel triggers more memories. Everything from cafés and hotel rooms, to street corners, and a trip to the kibbutz where Eve’s Israeli relatives live, brings on more memories of what happened from Eve’s first encounter with Jake in Israel through to her return to Canada, including a clandestine visit to Jake’s home while his wife was away.

    Gold’s finely crafted writing brings readers deeply into Eve’s obsession with Jake, offering both a well-told tale set in the Israeli and Jewish music world and a psychological study of the darker side of a seemingly normal middle-aged woman. She also provides insights into the character of Jake, a successful music critic, but also a self-centred man who is, perhaps, too caught up in his own tremendous ego.

    Ultimately, Eve does speak with Jake and, finally, after six years of obsession, finds closure to the affair and an understanding of why it didn’t – and won’t ever – work out between them; closure that will finally allow her to move forward with her life and career.

    The Dead Man is a compelling novel that draws readers into the lives of Eve and Jake. And, as well as these fully developed characters, Gold – who has lived in Israel and regularly spends time there – brings Israel and aspects of Israeli society to life in the pages of The Dead Man.


    A review of The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by Ruth Latta
    Compulsive Reader (blog) – August 15, 2016

    Nora Gold’s third work of fiction, The Dead Man, is a must-read for anyone who likes to analyse relationships. Eve’s obsession with her ex-lover, Jacob Gladstone, has been going on for five years, ever since the end of their five-month-long affair. A music therapist and composer, Eve recognizes that her inability to get over him is unhealthy, yet she finds it “kind of interesting…like watching a psychopath in a movie.” Whenever she leaves her home in Canada for Israel, where he lives, her obsession flares up and she makes hang-up phone calls to his home, hoping to get him, not Fran, his wife of many years and the mother of his children.

    The novel opens the last week of December in the recent past, with Eve on an airplane to Israel for a music therapy seminar, knowing that she will succumb to temptation and call Jake’s house again. Eve is no teenager; she is a widow in her fifties, the mother of two sons in their late teens. Jake Gladstone, seventy, is a world-renowned music theorist, critic, and ethno-musicologist, the greatest living authority on Jewish music. He was Eve’s mentor as well as her lover.

    Eve is convinced that the music she has written in recent years is good, but she can’t get it performed. Aspiring artists, including writers, will relate to her frustration, and agree with her remark that “Fame and talent have only an incidental relationship to each other.”

    She realizes that there is something she doesn’t understand about her obsession with Jake, “some mystery she can’t solve”, and the novel is about solving the puzzle. Her first step in getting over Jake is to present him as a case study, her assignment for the music therapy seminar. After hearing his history of problematic relationships, the other participants agree that he is a “destructive, scary man.” Her experiences at a conference, and at her cousin’s kibbutz, however, reveal that her inability to put Jake behind her also relates, predictably, to her own formative experiences.

    Many aspects of The Dead Man will attract readers. Some will love it for its Israeli setting; others because it involves the world of music; some will enjoy the erotic passages. The redeeming power of art comes into play when Eve acts on inspiration:

    Walking back towards her cousin’s house, she crosses a long meadow… and hears a bird’s song she never heard before…. And from all this bird music and from the proximity of this friendly, humorous, visiting bird, she realizes that her Bird Song, the piece she started composing two days ago, is completely lacking in joy… So she grabs a pen and notebook…[S]cribbling furiously, she sinks down cross-legged into the squishy marshes and flowers and writes happiness and joy into her music.
    Reading The Dead Man, I wondered why a therapist who recognizes that she has a problem wouldn’t consult another mental health professional about her obsession. Often I felt as if an acquaintance was confiding too much, but the intimate confessional tone is exactly what will attract many readers. The novel will interest other writers because of its narrative features. Ms. Gold avoids murky stream-of-consciousness passages by presenting the story in the third person. Flashbacks are signalled by a shift from present tense to past. A writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and a prize-winning author, Ms. Gold knows her craft.


    Book Review: The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by Rabbi Azriel C. Fellner – July 5, 2016

    What happens when a woman falls deeply in love with a man, becomes so ensorelled by him that her inner life is transformed as she falls into total obsession? What happens to that woman when that man, married to someone else, decides to end it? The ususal pain of a breakup, the heartache, the sense of loss, betrayal and regret described in this new novel by Nora Gold, The Dead Man, plumbs deeply and insistently into the nether world of love and passion, hate and indifference. The author sharply mines the labyrinthine tunnels of the main character’s emotinal life. Gold lays bare a whole series of assertions and contradictions about the life of the two main characters, and in the process might make a sensitive and careful reader challenged his own personal truths about his/her own life and relationships.

    Eve, a middle-aged widow, music therapist and composer travels to Israel for an international Jewish music conference and meets Jake, a highly acclaimed music theorist and writer, fourteen years her senior. They begin a torrid affair which melts away whatever defenses they may have only to find out that neither of them, alone or apart, know themselves, despite exposing to each other their physical and emotional nakedness. It is only after the breakup that Eve begins a long and difficult journey trying to understand how her childhood, the death of her mother at an early age, the death of her husband and the influences of her aunts and uncles have shaped her inner life. The painful un-layering of her inner life is brought about by her obsesive and compulsive behaviour toward Jake who will have nothing to do with her.

    It is painful to watch Eve emotionally eviscerate herself, but Gold lets us be part of the drama with vivid descriptions and powerful flashbacks. Like observing a train wreck about to happen, we are at once repelled and mesmerized by Eve’s downward spiral. It is to Gold’s credit as a novelist and story-teller that Eve’s breakdown never becomes maudlin, never becomes a caricature of a woman scorned. She is ultimately more than that.

    On another level, rarely do we find contemporary Jewish novelists who understand the ritual, the vocabulary and the penumbra of Jewish life correctly. Nora Gold does and she weaves Jewish symbols into the story with great effect. even as she is able to weave together the melodies of two lives from the tonal to the atonal.

    Nora Gold is a fine Canadian novelist who deserves a large audience of readers. The characters she draws remind us that the issues of love, loss, memory, passion and creativity can be seen from a fresh perspective and that, in the end, a naked description of deeply felt emotions can illuminate the contradictions and challenges we, ourselves, may be afraid to face.


    “The Dead Man” by Nora Gold (Inanna) Offers Many Pleasures
    reviewed by Tom Teicholz
    The Huffington Post – July 5, 2016

    In The Dead Man, the new novel by Nora Gold, Eve Bercovitch, a 55 year old Toronto-based composer of Jewish music and a music therapist, is obsessed by an affair she had with Jacob Gladstone (“Jake”) that ended abruptly five years ago when Jake decided to remain with his wife in Israel. Even now, as she arrives in Jerusalem to attend a music therapy conference, she is tempted to call his phone and hang up. She continues to dwell on him, revisiting the affair, and steels herself against possibly re-encountering him. She wonders what he thinks of her now (if he does at all), and what his wife thinks of her (if she does at all). She even makes her conference presentation about Jake, treating him as a case study. In Bercovitch’s mind, Jake takes up a lot of real estate.

    In all other respects Eve is a reasoned, thoughtful person: a widow, a mother of adult children, knowledgeable about Jewish music, and a valued music therapist. We even see that other men are attracted to her, if only she would be open to their advances.

    Over the course of this multi-layered narrative, Eve heals herself of the affair and begins on the road of a new composition (the two are not specifically linked, but it is hard to imagine one occurring without the other). In The Dead Man Gold shows us glints of the creative process and the healing process with specific narrative benchmarks, while availing the reader of the metaphor of a woman who in order to live fully again must make her feelings for her former lover into “The Dead Man.” That Gold accomplishes all this in so slender a novel is all the more impressive.

    The fault with the novel, if there is any, is with “The Dead Man” himself. Just as it is said that a super-hero movie or James Bond adventure is only as good as its villain, here I wish Jake were a more interesting or attractive a person to obsess over. It may be due to my white male privilege, but I found him boorish. That may be the point – that she obsesses over someone not worthy of her – but that does not make the time spent with his character any more enjoyable for the reader.

    That quibble aside, The Dead Man offers many pleasures: vivid descriptions of Jerusalem and Israel, insights into Jewish music and composition and an all too infrequently-found-in-literature portrait of a 55 year old woman who is finally coming into her own.


    The dead man…or woman?
    reviewed by Atara Beck
    The Jerusalem Post – June 3, 2016

    Can an obsession with a past lover consume someone completely?

    The title of Canadian author Nora Gold’s latest novel is The Dead Man. Reading it, however, one might wonder why it isn’t called “The Dead Woman”, as the protagonist has been unable to live her own life since becoming obsessed with a former lover.

    As the story goes, Eve is a 55-year-old music therapist and composer of Jewish sacred music, who had an affair with Jake, a married man, more than five years earlier while they were in Israel. He called it quits, but she just cannot shake it off. Indeed she is consumed to the point of not being able to focus her thoughts on anything else, including her two beloved sons, or to develop professionally in her ability.

    Her career has been “going nowhere”, Eve writes. “After her Kaddish Concerto won a prize seven years ago, people had high hopes for her. But these hopes have come to nothing, mainly because the past five-and-a-half years have been a waste.”

    Beautifully written, The Dead Man is a captivating story with fascinating, psychological insight. It is also very human. Eve – an attractive and outwardly successful professional – reveals her inner insecurities that likely would have gone undetected by the casual observer.

    Eve’s obsession with Jake is so deep that she has become a stalker – even returning to Israel, where he still lives, to visit “the scene of the crime.” Initially, that may sound creepy, but really – who hasn’t stalked anyone before, be it through the old-fashioned telephone, or modern-day social media?

    Yet the extent of her obsession, and her difficulty in accepting the circumstances, as well as the outcome, are extreme. Eventually, a striking discovery explains at least part of the reason why she has been clinging so tightly to a man who not only ended their brief relationship years earlier but also was likely a psychopath, as she discovered over time.

    With a good dose of humor, Gold also exposes, to a degree, the world of celebrities – in this case, musical giants, including the fragile egos and, ev­ery now and then, the hypocritical accolades.

    The Dead Man is one of those absorbing works of fiction that hold the reader’s attention. As in Gold’s previous novel, Living in Exile, her profound love for Israel resonates throughout.


    The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    The Miramichi Reader – May 15., 2016

    One could be forgiven if they thought the title of this book belongs in the murder-mystery genre. While there is no actual murder, there has been a psychological one of sorts, and, like a good mystery, the reader is compelled to read right up to the last page to see how Eve, the female protagonist of the The Dead Man (2016, Inanna Publications) throws off the bonds of her entrapment to a man she met years ago and hasn’t seen or heard from in five years. Is he “dead”? Or is it Eve’s memory that is keeping him alive unnecessarily?
    “The Dead Man is a lovingly well-written and fascinating novel of a woman’s recovery from years of grief and emptiness.”

    Eve & Jake

    Eve Bercovitch is a fifty-five year old music therapist, aspiring composer and widow with two grown boys. Years ago, she sat on a panel alongside Jacob (Jake) Gladstone, a famous music critic. They soon get to talking and find they have many common interests. Jake tells her that he feels he could tell her anything and everything, which he could never do with his wife Fran. Eve and Jake fall in love and become lovers, but he soon returns to Israel, leaving her behind in Toronto. They continue to communicate via phone and email, and Eve makes trips to Israel (where she has family) to see Jake secretly. One day she receives an email from Jake: “It’s over. Don’t ever call or write to me again.” Eve is devastated, and for the next five years, she lives in a state of limbo, phoning Jake just to hear his voice, then hanging up. She finds it hard to pass a pay phone without calling him. Everything reminds her of Jake. She refers to this time as her “

  2. Inanna Admin

    The Dead Man by Nora Gold
    reviewed by The Minerva Reader – July 5, 2020

    When a love affair ends, what becomes of the memories? And all the memories that led to that love and its demise? How does one begin to untangle the intricate threads that held your heart hostage and won’t let you go? And, once untangled, how do you heal? And how do you deal with the emptimess that replaces the loss of that former obsession? The Dead Man is a gripping tale about why we love and what we remember. Thought-provoking and beautifully written, the book is also fascinating with a behind-the-scenes look at tenured musicology and a lovely taste of Israel. The travel aspect of the novel made me want to book a ticket as soon as this pandemic is over.

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