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How This Night Is Different

Stories

Elisa Albert's debut story collection marks the arrival of an extraordinary new voice in fiction. In How This Night Is Different, Albert boldly illuminates the struggles of young, disaffected Jews to find spiritual fulfillment. With wit and wisdom, she confronts themes -- self-deprecation, stressful family relationships, sex, mortality -- that have been hallmarks of her literary predecessors. But Albert brings a decidedly fresh, iconoclastic, twenty-first-century attitude to the table.

Holidays, gatherings, and rites of passage provide the backdrop for these ten provocative stories. The characters who populate How This Night Is Different are ambivalent, jaded, and in serious want of connection. As they go through the motions of familial duty and religious observance, they find themselves continually longing for more. In prose that is by turns hilarious and harrowing, Albert details the quest for acceptance, a happier view of the past, and above all the possibility of a future.

From the hormonally charged concentration camp teen tour in "The Living" to the sexually frustrated young mother who regresses to bat mitzvah-aged antics in "Everything But," and culminating with the powerful and uproariously apropos finale of "Etta or Bessie or Dora or Rose," How This Night Is Different is sure to titillate, charm, and profoundly resonate with anyone who's ever felt conflicted about his or her faith, culture, or place in the world.

Photograph by Tanja Hollander

Elisa Albert is the author of After Birth, The Book of Dahlia, the short story collection How This Night Is Different, and the editor of the anthology Freud’s Blind Spot. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Tin HouseThe New York TimesPost RoadThe GuardianGulf CoastLos Angeles Review of BooksThe BelieverThe Rumpus, Time Magazine, on NPR, and in many anthologies. Albert grew up in Los Angeles and received an MFA from Columbia University, where she was a Lini Mazumdar Fellow. A recipient of the Moment magazine emerging writer award and a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize, she has received fellowships from The Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Djerassi, Vermont Studio Center, The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies in Holland, the HWK in Germany, and the Amsterdam Writer’s Residency. She lives with her family in upstate New York.

"A dark, witty, and incisive take on modern-day disaffected Jewish youth." -- Variety

"A wonder-inducing blend of sharp humor, religious ambivalence, and caustic wisdom." -- Time Out New York

"What makes How This Night Is Different different is simply the fact that Elisa Albert is a funny and gutsy writer with a knack for locating the absurd poignancy in familiar situations. This is an accomplished, moving, and often risky debut." -- Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land

"Albert's protagonists are young Americans each imbued with an uncannily sharp voice, each boldly confronting their intricately conflicted lives, each looking on the world with convincing lucidity and reacting with moving joie de vivre." -- San Francisco Chronicle

"Albert employs razor-sharp irony to deftly dissect how contemporary life gets tangled with ancient traditions...outrageous and poignant, dark and funny." -- Hartford Courant

More books from this author: Elisa Albert