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Fiction Contemporary Women

Fields of Exile

by (author) Nora Gold

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2014
Contemporary Women, Jewish, Political
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2014
    List Price

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2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Awards — Winner, Fiction

Judith finds the courage to stand up for her beliefs and protest anti-Semitic hypocrisy.
Judith is a young woman who lived in Israel for a decade, was a peace activist there, and defines herself as "left-wing," yet in graduate school back in Canada, she discovers that vilification of Israel is the expected norm. When the keynote speaker for Anti-Oppression Day turns out to be a supporter of terrorist attacks not only against Israeli military targets, but also against Israeli civilians and Jews around the world, Judith protests. As a result, she is marginalized by the faculty and her peers, and her life begins to unravel.
This is a moving novel about love, betrayal, and the courage to stand up for what one believes, as well as a searing indictment of the hypocrisy and intellectual sloth that threaten the integrity of our society.
'Wistful Woman' painting on the cover was created by Peter Worsley (, and used with the artist’s permission.

About the author

Nora Gold, born and raised in Montreal, is a prize-winning author. Her recent novel, Fields of Exile, won the 2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Award, and was widely praised, including by Irwin Cotler, Ruth Wisse and Cynthia Ozick. Ozick called Fields of Exile “a brave and luminous book” that she read “with nonstop enthralled admiration.” Gold’s previous book, Marrow and Other Stories, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award (1999), and Alice Munro, after reading the title story, wrote to Gold, saying “Bravo!” In addition to her writing, Dr. Gold is the founder and editor of the prestigious online literary journal Jewish which has readers in 140 countries. Gold is also the Writer-in-Residence and an Associate Scholar at the Centre for Women's Studies in Education, at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, where she coordinates the Wonderful Women Writers Series.

Nora Gold's profile page


  • Winner, Canadian Jewish Literary Awards, Novel

Editorial Reviews

Fields of Exile is a novel that tackles some difficult questions. What exactly is terrorism? Does Israel have the right to defend itself against suicide bombers? Are those who attack Israel’s responses to terrorism anti-Semites? What can be done to properly and fairly state Israel’s case on Canadian campuses? Even so, the novel is not political in nature. This gripping work of fiction is also the very touching story of a young woman faced with the challenges of life, both on campus and at home.

…the great strength of this novel is Nora Gold’s spot on portrayal of the shock of encountering antisemitism, the dizzying dismay of finding that howling hateful horde even here in Canada.

Jewish Tribune

The author of a previous well-received collection of stories titled Marrow, Gold is a highly competent writer and reportedly the first to focus on the shocking anti-Israel climate now prevalent on many Canadian and American campuses.

Canadian Jewish News

Gold offers sensuous descriptions of the Jewish homeland …

Quill & Quire

Given the climate of anti-Israel hatred, this book is an excellent choice for book discussion clubs and interfaith and inter-political dialogue.

The Association of Jewish Libraries

User Reviews

Fields of Exile

I appreciated Nora Gold’s consistent efforts in Fields of Exile both to describe the kind of attempts at peace-making from those Jews and Palestinians who rarely get acknowledged for it in the western media, and to acknowledge the atrocities committed by governments on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli divide. In short, Gold describes the varied circumstances in which her protagonist, Judith, is distressed by the ambiguities of what she witnesses and experiences even as she tries to clarify and secure her identity, loyalties and affiliations. The protagonist is not at ease with the Israel she initially came to love (which even then she romanticized), and she is no longer at ease with an Israeli government that has walled off its Palestinian population, and enabled an increasing number of settlers to appropriate Palestinian land. But neither is she averse to articulating the existential terror of potential death by bus bombing by those claiming to be Palestinian nationalists, by those who use violence to affect what they perceive to be justice. Or by describing the contradictory nature of Canadians and other progressives holding Israel apartheid demonstrations during which, in proclaiming general bans, they stand to silence Israelis who are critic al of their governmental policies from speaking out about them.
The novel explores the notion that you cannot help the homeland you come to love, as it clearly cries out to you. Even if the homeland is construed as both abuser as abused, both sinned against and sinning. The story is slowly, carefully developed, juxtaposing the protagonist's sexual politics in which there are two loved ones, with her venture through the terrain of the perpetually politically-changed university, possibly most fraught for those in so-called progressive departments who feel responsible to speak out against inequity–as they perceive it. The novel is incredibly intense and so worthy of being read-- and discussed with others— for its complex perspective.

A fascinating read

Gold demonstrates a deep understanding of academia, anti-oppression work and the struggles of being part of two cultures. I was both educated and entertained.
Her main character, Judith, is a complex woman who made me laugh and cry.

A compelling read !!

Gold has a wonderful gift in developing her characters as real people. When you first read about Judith's trust in her professors, you want to grab hold of her and warn her to be careful. It is obvious in reading this novel that Gold has a deep understanding of the world of academia. One learns so much about Israel and Jewish customs in this novel. Gold also quotes Shakespeare on several occasions. She loves words and plays with their meaning. She has a wicked sense of humour. She also understands Israeli and Canadian culture. I would recommend this novel to people of all religions because she explains her foreign terms in a glossary at the back of the book.

Highly recommended

Nora Gold is a wonderful story teller. Her first hand knowledge of Israeli and Canadian culture make this a lively and engaging read.

Other titles by Nora Gold