Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough

A Jewish Beauty’s Journey, in Fiction

Lilith’s fiction editor converses with Susan Dworkin about her new book, “The Garden Lady,” as well as Ms. Magazine and being confused with Andrea Dworkin.

A (Feminist) Defense of Barbie as She Turns 60

Back in the 1970s, feminists decried her—and in the 1990s, she suffered another biting backlash, when she was accused of imposing an unachievable, unreal body image on little girls. I think this underestimates children.

A Breathtaking Novel Set on the Eve of World War I

The fictional Goldbaums are similarly powerful and almost unimaginably wealthy, but unlike most of the aristocrats in Europe at the time their wealth is earned. They are more like the American industrialists or new money, and were considered by many as gauche and bourgeois, viewed with even more intense suspicion by the establishment because of their Jewishness. To me, that makes the Goldbaums interesting – to be both singularly powerful, intricately involved in international affairs and needed by governments and emperors, and yet still be vulnerable and isolated.

The Jewish Doctor Writing About Medieval Christian Spirituality

Like any novelist, I did what my characters and my story led me to. The place, Siena, which I’d been to 10 years before I started writing the book, drew me in because of the way it exists in both past and present. Being there blurs the boundaries of time. Siena’s people live their centuries-old traditions with profound seriousness, and a deep emotional connection. And in Siena a mystery resides about what happened during the plague of 1348, an unsolved mystery that I uncovered as I began to learn more about Siena’s history. So my story took me there, and then.

A Novel Satirizes Jews and India

For some of my characters the attraction to India is, I think, in many ways similar to what pulls people to Israel and maybe ultimately disappoints them: a search for spirituality, connection, inner peace—often misguided or deluded.

Hedy Lamarr: The Only Woman in the Room

The story of Hedy Lamarr’s invention and the marginalization of her contribution to spread spectrum technology—whether intentionally suppressed or forgotten—is the story of many women either in the STEM field or who have made STEM contributions. In this way, Hedy’s narrative—as I share it and shape it in The Only Woman in the Room—is both historic and modern.

New York’s Forgotten Subway Beauty Pageant

Beginning in 1941, a local New York City beauty pageant known as “Miss Subways” posted placards of winners, chosen each month, in the city’s subway cars.  When the pageant ended in 1976, so did a bit of NYC history. But author Susie Schnall has resurrected those bygone years in her lively and delightful novel, The… Read more »

From a Doomsday Church to Judaism

Angela Himsel grew up as one of eleven children in an evangelical family that lived in rural Indiana. The Worldwide Church of God informed her thinking and fulfilled her spiritual needs. Yet she eventually went to Israel, married a Jewish man and is now a practicing Jewish woman. She talks to Lilith Fiction Editor Yona Zeldis McDonough about her unusual journey.