a novel by Jacob Jaffe
      
Jacob Jaffe's coming-of-age novel focusses on a ten-year-old boy in 1938-1939, the year America was struggling out of the Depression and Europe was staggering into war.

Comments from editors include, "evocative...interesting, admirable," "the author captured the protagonist's point of view with sensitivity and warmth," "a warm, lively picture of family life."

Al, the adult narrator, relives that fateful year. He is witness to the struggles of his immigrant family: his father risks his life to oust the gangsters from the painters union; his mother tries to smuggle her sister's family out of Soviet Russia. Al resonates to his grandfather's Orthodoxy and is challenged by his older brother's scientism. He has other conflicts as well: being accepted by his Irish-American fourth grade teacher, dealing with the class bully who dislikes him because he's fat and Jewish, escaping his over-protective mother and trying to make sense of his family and the world.

While Al daydreams about Native Americans in nearby Crotona Park, he meets an African-American classmate whose grandfather is an Apache survivor of his tribe's 1890 Florida imprisonment. 

Besides the serious themes, we witness the mishaps at the Christmas and Chanukah plays and the Bronx Bombers  winning the 1938 World Series.

In his struggles, Al enlists the help of the 1930's comic strip and radio heroes including Superman, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Characters from The Bible (Noah, Abraham, Moses and God) help Al confront formidable enemies like the school bully, the immigration police, Adolph Hitler, Death . . . and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Read an excerpt
from Land of Dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A literary agent described Land of Dreams as "a strong piece of writing and an important examination of the immigration situation in the late '30s and as it largely remains today. (Jaffe has) a talent for portraying characters and making them surprisingly knowable and real."  
       –Loretta Barrett, LB Books.

"reminiscent of Avalon and having a Saul Bellow quality to it."
       –Terry Adams, Editor, Little, Brown & Co.

Finalist in the Ariadne Press first novel contest

Selected by the New York, Kings County and Queens Public Libraries