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Fiction Literary

Basic Black with Pearls

by (author) Helen Weinzweig

Publisher
House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Aug 2015
Category
Literary, Jewish
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9781487000479
    Publish Date
    Aug 2015
    List Price
    $16.95
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781487000486
    Publish Date
    Jul 2015
    List Price
    $14.95

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Description

A lost feminist classic — and winner of the Toronto Book Award — reissued to coincide with the 35th anniversary of publication.

In her yearning, elusive search for a lover, Shirley Kaszenbowski sheds her drab “basic black” existence together with torturous memories of guilt and loss as a Jewish immigrant in Toronto.

Shirley Kaszenbowski, née Silverberg, is a middle-aged, middle-class woman in a Holt Renfrew tweed coat, a basic black dress, and a strand of real pearls. She may seem ordinary enough, pricing silk scarves at Eaton’s or idling in hotel coffee shops, but in fact she is searching for her lover. He is an elusive figure, a man connected with “The Agency,” a powerful technocrat who may or may not have suggested a rendezvous based on a secret code in the National Geographic.

Her search takes her to the world of her past as a Jewish immigrant in the Spadina-Dundas area of Toronto. She finds the bakeries and rooming houses of her youth still haunted by survivors of postwar Europe and by her own memories of guilt and loss, while the consolations of art, opera, and pornography offer only echoes of her own illusions and desires. Her strange, wryly funny odyssey ends in a dramatic confrontation scene with her husband and “the other woman,” as she trades in her basic black for another chance.

In Basic Black with Pearls, Weinzweig displays her gift for creating sympathetic characters in a slightly surreal, but always recognizable world.

About the author

Helen Weinzweig is the author of the novels Passing Ceremony and Basic Black with Pearls, winner of the Toronto Book Award. Her short story collection, A View from the Roof, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Helen Weinzweig died in Toronto in 2010.

 

Helen Weinzweig's profile page

Other titles by Helen Weinzweig