Potok, well known for his novels of Jewish family life such as The Chosen, turns to nonfiction in The Gates of November, a wrenching family chronicle with a riveting historical undercurrent. The story of the family patriarch, Solomon Slepak, spans most of the book: ignoring his mother’s wish that he become a rabbi, Slepak emigrated at 13 to America, became a Marxist in New York, returned to fight in the Russian Revolution, and rose to prominence within the Communist Party. But while Solomon remained a convinced Bolshevik, his son Volodya rejected socialism when anti-Semitism emerged during Stalin’s era. Disowned by his father, Volodya was later exiled to Siberia as a dissident. The story of the Slepaks is simultaneously the story of Soviet Jewry and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.
“REMARKABLE… A WONDERFUL STORY.”-The Boston Globe
The father is a high-ranking Communist officer, a Jew who survived Stalin’s purges. The son is a “refusenik,” who risked his life and happiness to protest everything his father held dear. Now, Chaim Potok, beloved author of the award-winning novels The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev, unfolds the gripping true story of a father, a son, and a conflict that spans Soviet history. Drawing on taped interviews and his harrowing visits to Russia, Potok traces the public and privates lives of the Slepak family: Their passions and ideologies, their struggles to reconcile their identities as Russians and as Jews, their willingness to fight-and die-for diametrically opposed political beliefs.
“[A] vivid account… [Potok] brings a novelist’s passion and eye for detail to a gripping story that possesses many of the elements of fiction-except that it’s all too true.” – San Francisco Chronicle