Alice Stein, a young graduate student living in a vivid and chaotic late-90s East Village, loses her father and grandmother in a single year and is given the task of cleaning out her grandmother's Brooklyn apartment. In the process of doing so, she begins to unlock a family secret. Accompanied by her precocious downstairs neighbour, a twelve-year-old girl named Persephone, she sets out on a quest to understand her family and herself. In the process, she will discover lost children and buried love affairs, histories she wants to believe and people she can't trust, a village in Hungary and an artist's loft in Harlem. A coming-of-age story about hidden pasts and the legacy of trauma and displacement, A Joy To Be Hidden is told with humour and insight. We can never quite forget the title quote -- "It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found" D. W. Winnicott -- and we discover, over the course of the novel, that it applies to everyone.
About the author
Ariela Freedman was born in Brooklyn and has lived in Jerusalem, New York, Calgary, London, and Montreal. She has a Ph.D. from New York University and teaches literature at Concordia's Liberal Arts College in Montreal, where she lives with her family. Her debut, Arabic for Beginners (LLP, 2017), was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia University First Book Prize and won the 2018 J. I. Segal Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, A Joy to be Hidden (LLP, 2019), was shortlisted for the Segal Prize in 2020, and was a finalist for the The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.
"Ariela Freedman writes with elegance and dark grace about family history, identity, and the human ache for connection. I loved this mysterious and engrossing story, and her beautiful rendering of how the past can both haunt us and help us move on." --Alix Ohlin