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What to Do About the Solomons
Cover of What to Do About the Solomons
What to Do About the Solomons
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From a remarkable new voice in fiction, Bethany Ball, comes a transporting debut; a hilarious multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles that explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz community near Jerusalem
Meet Marc Solomon, an Israeli ex-Navy commando now living in L.A., who is falsely accused of money laundering through his asset management firm. As the Solomons' Santa Monica home is raided, Marc's American wife, Carolyn—concealing her own dark past—makes hopeless attempts to hold their family of five together. But news of the scandal makes its way from America to the rest of the Solomon clan on the kibbutz in the Jordan River Valley. There we encounter various members of the family and the community—from Marc's self-absorbed movie actress sister, Shira, and her forgotten son Joseph; to his rich and powerful construction magnate father, Yakov; to his former star-crossed love, Maya; and his brother-in-law Guy Gever, a local ranger turned “artist." As the secrets and rumors of the kibbutz are revealed through various memories and tales, we witness the things that keep the Solomons together, and those that tear them apart.
Reminiscent of Nathan Englander's For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, and told with razor-sharp humor and elegant acuity, What to Do About the Solomons is an exhilarating first book from a bright new star in fiction.

From a remarkable new voice in fiction, Bethany Ball, comes a transporting debut; a hilarious multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles that explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz community near Jerusalem
Meet Marc Solomon, an Israeli ex-Navy commando now living in L.A., who is falsely accused of money laundering through his asset management firm. As the Solomons' Santa Monica home is raided, Marc's American wife, Carolyn—concealing her own dark past—makes hopeless attempts to hold their family of five together. But news of the scandal makes its way from America to the rest of the Solomon clan on the kibbutz in the Jordan River Valley. There we encounter various members of the family and the community—from Marc's self-absorbed movie actress sister, Shira, and her forgotten son Joseph; to his rich and powerful construction magnate father, Yakov; to his former star-crossed love, Maya; and his brother-in-law Guy Gever, a local ranger turned “artist." As the secrets and rumors of the kibbutz are revealed through various memories and tales, we witness the things that keep the Solomons together, and those that tear them apart.
Reminiscent of Nathan Englander's For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, and told with razor-sharp humor and elegant acuity, What to Do About the Solomons is an exhilarating first book from a bright new star in fiction.

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Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 6, 2017
    Respected leader at his kibbutz, founder of a thriving construction business, 75-year-old patriarch Yakov Solomon is fed up with his children in Ball’s debut novel about a prosperous, beleaguered Israeli family. Yakov no longer speaks to eldest son Ziv, who lives in Singapore with another man; middle son Dror suffers from severe sibling envy; rich and successful Marc’s California investment firm faces criminal investigation; daughter Keren’s husband, Guy, cannot control his artistic impulses; and daughter Shira, whose acting career peaked with a bit part in a Harry Potter movie, leaves her 11-year-old son, Joseph, home alone while she visits Hollywood. Money can’t solve their problems, and medication—prescribed or illegal—only makes them worse. Marc returns to the kibbutz, his wife stoned, his childhood sweetheart suicidal, his future uncertain, while Joseph assists his half-brother’s attempt to run away from army service. Clearly, the Solomons have come a long way from the ideals of the kibbutz in early years. Ball switches points of view for a mosaic of family members and associates in crisis and adrift. Her terse, sharp-edged prose captures settings ranging from an American jail where highest bail is king to a French military post where they haven’t won a war since Napoleon, but they sure know how to live. For all its humor, penetrating disillusionment underlies Ball’s memorable portrait of a family, once driven by pioneer spirit, now plagued by overextension and loss of direction, unsure what to do with its legacy, teetering between resentment, remorse, and resilience. Agent: Duvall Osteen, the Aragi Agency.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2017
    An ambitious literary debut about an Israeli family and its oddball members.When Guy Gever starts taking branches and sticks, arranging them in bizarre configurations around his home or in the midst of a field, and calling the result "art," his wife's family, the Solomons, is concerned. Yakov Solomon, the family patriarch, is especially concerned. Yakov has financially supported each of his children well into adulthood, and it looks like his duties still aren't over. "When my children want money, they come to me," he says. "I've paid for six weddings, five divorces, the funeral of one daughter-in-law's father, and countless birthday celebrations. Now I must pay for Guy Gever's madness?" Ball's debut novel examines the lives of each of the Solomons--Guy Gever and Yakov, yes, but also Marc Solomon, Yakov's youngest son, who moves to LA from their cloistered kibbutz, marries, has children, and is then accused of money laundering; and Marc's sister, Shira, an aging actress who takes off for LA while her young son stays home alone; and there is Dror, another brother, and Vivienne, their mother, and also Maya, Marc's childhood girlfriend. In short, there are a lot of characters--perhaps too many--and each chapter picks up a new point of view. Those chapters jump around in time, too, so the complexities of certain relationships aren't made clear until the end. Ball's prose is compulsively readable, almost addictive, and she has a wicked sense of humor. But the novel doesn't quite add up: by the time you've met all the characters, the book is already ending, and nothing seems to have been resolved. Humor can't quite save this appealing novel that ends before it's fully begun.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publishers Weekly "Ball switches points of view for a mosaic of family members and associates in crisis and adrift. Her terse, sharp-edged prose captures settings ranging from an American jail where highest bail is king to a French military post where they haven't won a war since Napoleon, but they sure know how to live. For all its humor, penetrating disillusionment underlies Ball's memorable portrait of a family, once driven by pioneer spirit, now plagued by overextension and loss of direction, unsure what to do with its legacy, teetering between resentment, remorse, and resilience."
  • Booklist "Ball, with great humor, profound wit, and notable insight, vividly captures a singular family....This novel from a most promising writer has been compared to the work of Isaac B. Singer and Grace Paley, as well as Nathan Englander and Jennifer Egan. Try Eudora Welty with sex and Jews."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Ball's prose is compulsively readable, almost addictive, and she has a wicked sense of humor."
  • Belinda McKeon, author of Tender "A riveting family drama which feels at once solidly classic and bitingly contemporary; if Transparent and A Thousand Acres snuck off and had a kid, you'd have What To Do About The Solomons. With their screw-ups, their sadnesses, their pasts catching up on them and their futures slamming in hard, these people are fascinating to be with and oddly hard to leave. Isn't that always the way with family - as long as they're not your own?"
  • Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening "Bethany Ball lays bare the complexities of modern life in prose that has the resonant simplicity of a fairy tale. Readers who love I.B. Singer and Grace Paley now have another writer to adore."
  • Scott Wolven, author of Controlled Burn "Bethany Ball, in her fearless literary debut, goes deep into contemporary life to give the reader characters so alive we have met them and a story so true it takes fiction to tell it. From Israel to Manhattan to Connecticut and back, on a bridge of family, money, lies, drugs, and false accusations. For the reader, a knock on the door will never be the same."
  • Nelly Reifler, author of Elect H. Mouse State Judge and See Through “Bethany Ball is a sharp, sensitive writer whose gift for details--a gesture, an article of clothing, a square stone, a meal eaten by a lonely, neglected ten-year-old--reveals, magically, whole worlds. She is both tender and relentless with her characters: her affection for them is palpable, yet she subjects them to exquisitely revealing examinations. We're lucky she does, for here in What to Do About the Solomons a family and its most harrowing moments come to life so completely we forget that we're not reading about ourselves and our own families."
  • David Hollander, author of L.I.E. “In What to Do About the Solomons, Bethany Ball peels back the manicured surface of family and community to surgically expose a world of hurt. Told in a razor-sharp prose that takes no prisoners, this is that rare book that can make you laugh while it's breaking your heart. I couldn't get enough."
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