“Katz lives up to her first novel’s potential in this moving, funny, wholly original picaresque about a nice Jewish girl . . . The pasts and common destiny of two remarkable women — related with perfect timing in Sofia’s convincing Yiddish-tinged English — come together beautifully in this nicely crafted, emotionally satisfying, and well-researched historical fiction.” —Publishers Weekly
Set in the brothels and gangster dens of Jewish Buenos Aires at the beginning of the twentieth century, The Escape Artist catapults us into the exotic lives of Sofia Teitelbaum and Hankus Lubarsky. Sofia, a nice Jewish girl from Poland, is wooed from her family by Tutsik Goldenberg who claims to be a wealthy Argentine diamond merchant in search of a wife. In a horrifying turnaround, he delivers her to his sister’s brother in Buenos Aires. Hankus, also a nice Jewish girl from Poland, escaped from the pogroms that killed her family by passing as a man. An illusionist to the core, she’s created the persona of a handsome and mysterious magician and escape artist. In Hankus, Tutsik spots a different kind of prospect. Managing Hankus could be his ticket to freedom from his sister’s machinations. But his juggling is the act that brings Sofia and Hankus together. Their attempts to walk the tightrope of love, freedom, and independence are quickly put to the test.
Judith Katz is the author of two published novels, The Escape Artist, and Running Fiercely Toward a High Thin Sound, which won a Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. She has received Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation, and National Endowment fellowships for fiction. She is an academic advisor at the University of Minnesota.