Torgov, Morley

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TORGOV, MORLEY (1927– ), Canadian author. Morley Torgov was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where his family was part of the city's small Jewish community. A full-time lawyer with a practice in Toronto, he wrote in his leisure time.

Torgov published a memoir and five novels, each of which explores Jewish themes with humor and irony that are gentler than in either Mordecai *Richler or Philip *Roth, with whom he is often compared. A Good Place to Come From (1974) won the Leacock Medal for Humour and was adapted as a mini-series for television and for the stage in Canada and the United States. A series of vignettes, it describes Torgov's experience of growing up Jewish in the predominantly gentile world of Sault Ste. Marie. The Abramsky Variations (1977), written in three parts and set in Toronto and France, concerns three generations of the Abramsky (later Brahms) family: father Louis, son Hershel, and grandson Bart (né Kevin). Each character struggles to reconcile Jewish tradition with secular ambition, and all are more strongly attracted to fantasizing about people they want to emulate than to facing reality. Torgov's second novel, The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick (1982), which also won the Leacock Medal, was first written as a children's story. It takes a comic look at 12-year-old Maximilian, so named because his parents thought it would look impressive on the door of a law office. It is the story of a boy raised in a tiny Jewish community in Steelton, northern Ontario. Maximilian seeks to escape the suffocating love of his parents and grandparents, who envision him making a career as a surgeon, judge, or scientist. With the help of Rabbi Kalman Teitelman, who replaces Steelton's former rabbi and with whom Maximilian forms a relationship, he eventually releases himself from the stifling expectations of others. St. Farb's Day (1990) concerns Isadore Farb, an honest, respectable lawyer on Toronto's Bay Street. As Farb struggles with an ethical dilemma – he finds himself involved in a conflict of interest with several clients – he confronts larger moral issues linked to his Jewish identity. The War to End All Wars (1998) brings together two former soldiers who had fought opposite one another in World War i. In the mid-1920s, Ellio Pines and Karl Sternberg are living in the small town of Oreville, Michigan, where they compete as businessmen and as suitors. Stickler and Me (2002) is a novel for young adults.

[Ruth Panofsky (2nd ed.)]