Kadish, Rachel 1969- (Rachel Susan Kadish)

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Kadish, Rachel 1969- (Rachel Susan Kadish)


Born August 12, 1969, in New York, NY; daughter of Lawrence Jerome and Anna Kadish; married; children: two. Education: Princeton University, A.B. (summa cum laude), 1991; New York University, M.A., 1994. Religion: Jewish.


Home—Newtonville, MA. Agent—Sarah Burnes, Gernet Company, 136 E. 57th St., New York, NY 10022.


Writer and academic. Goldwater Hospital, New York, NY, creative writing instructor, 1993; Bunting Institute, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA, fiction fellow, 1994-95; Radio Play Media Foundation, Boston, MA, literary editor, 1995; Harvard University Extension School, Cambridge, MA, creative writing instructor, 1996. Also taught fiction and creative nonfiction at the Harvard University Summer School, Boston College, and Lesley University; Koret Writer-in-Residence at Stanford University, 2005.




Barbara Deming award in fiction, Deming Foundation, 1993; grant for emerging writers, Rona Jaffe Foundation, 1994; grant for writers of exceptional promise, Whiting Foundation, 1994; Pushcart Prize, 1997; Open Voice award, Writers Voice of the West Side, New York, 1997; nominated for a national magazine award; National Endowment for the Arts, fellow, 2001; Massachusetts Cultural Council, fellow, 2002; Koret Award for a Young Writer on Jewish Themes, 2003-04; John Gardner Fiction Book Award, 2007, for Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story.


From a Sealed Room (novel), Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.

Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story (novel), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.

Also author of short stories and articles. Contributor of fiction and essays to periodicals, including Story, Prairie Schooner, Zoetrope, Bomb, Tin House, Lilith, Moment, Sh'ma, Congress Monthly, and Arts & Letters.

Editor of Israel Women's Network (newsletter), Jerusalem, 1991. Contributor to Pushcart Prize Anthology and other books, including Daughters of Kings, Travelling Souls, Lost Tribe: New Jewish Fiction from the Edge, Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt, and Who We Are: On Being (and Not Being) a Jewish Writer in America.


Rachel Kadish is a writer who also teaches creative writing classes. Kadish, who began teaching at Goldwater Hospital in New York City, later moved on to a fellowship at the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College, and taught at Harvard University Extension School and Summer School, Boston College, and Lesley University. In 2005 Kadish received a residency at Stanford University as part of the Koret Award for a Young Writer on Jewish Themes. This followed her fellowships with the National Endowment for the Arts in 2001 and the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2002.

Kadish published her first novel in 1998. The book, From a Sealed Room, explores Israeli society, following three women dealing with "feeling hopelessly bound by a painful past," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic. The critic went on to praise the work as "wise" and "perceptive," and complimented Kadish for presenting "characters with fine compassion, psychological penetration and attention to detail." Shifra, "the novel's soul," according to Maggie Galehouse in the New York Times Book Review, is an old Polish woman struggling with memories of the Holocaust. She lives in Jerusalem and is the neighbor of Maya, the focal point of the "action" in the novel, according to Galehouse. An American student at Hebrew University, Maya lacks emotional support and is in a relationship with a mentally ill, abusive artist who was kicked out of the army. Maya's cousin, Tami is also dealing with an unhappy relationship she and her husband have drifted apart. This "intense, ambitious story … explores the chasms between truth and falsehood, past and present," summarized Galehouse. Library Journal contributor Molly Abramowitz also referred to From a Sealed Room as "ambitious"; however, she maintained that in the book's "series of crises psychological, physical, emotional, and medical… too much is going on."

Kadish, like many other authors, had difficulty focusing on her work immediately after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York City. In an attempt to lighten her writing subject, she revisited a character she had shelved years earlier and from this, developed her second book, Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story. The novel sets itself against the popular quote of Leo Tolstoy: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Kadish's main character sets out to prove that tragedies are not the only stories that can make great literature. A San Francisco Chronicle article by Joey Rubin quoted from the book, surmising: "For people who claim to want happiness, we Americans spend a lot of time spinning yarns about its opposite." Tolstoy Lied introduces Tracy, a woman with a successful career and great friends who navigates through the problems that arise in typical life, such as love, career, and friends. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote that Tracy, "intensely aware of romantic cliches—gives this novel insightful traction that 21st-century feminists will appreciate."

Most reviews for Kadish's second book were positive. Writing in Kirkus Reviews, a critic felt that the author "brings a sprightly intelligence to bear on this familiar scenario, lending it fresh charm as well as some shrewd emotional insights." The same critic, however, commented that there is "not much suspense" in the story. Rubin concluded that "Kadish has penned a light-footed, wholly unromanticized contemporary love story that cuts to the very core of what a love story should be: not about how we find happiness, but about what it means to do so."



Booklist, October 1, 1998, Nancy Pearl, review of From a Sealed Room, p. 307; August 1, 2006, Carolyn Kubisz, review of Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story, p. 41.

Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2006, Julia Livshin, review of Tolstoy Lied, p. 11.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1998, review of From a Sealed Room, p. 1314; June 15, 2006, review of Tolstoy Lied, p. 594.

Library Journal, October 1, 1998, Molly Abramowitz, review of From a Sealed Room, p. 134; July 1, 2006, Robin Nesbitt, review of Tolstoy Lied, p. 66.

New York Times Book Review, January 10, 1999, Maggie Galehouse, review of From a Sealed Room, p. 16.

Publishers Weekly, September 7, 1998, review of From a Sealed Room, p. 84; June 5, 2006, review of Tolstoy Lied, p. 28.

San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 2006, Joey Rubin, author profile and review of Tolstoy Lied, p. M1.


Koret Foundation Web site,http://www.koretfoundation.org/ (March 2, 2007), author profile.

Rachel Kadish Home Page,http://www.rachelkadish.com (March 2, 2007), author biography.