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The Same Embrace

  • Dutton (Hardcover)
  • September 1998
  • ISBN 0525944168
  • Plume (Paperback)
  • May 1999
  • ISBN 0452279755


The endless conflict between sameness and difference is at the heart of Michael Lowenthal's novel The Same Embrace, in which identical twins Jacob and Jonathan battle themselves and one another to become individuals even as they are inextricably linked through genes, family, and history. Empathetically close as children, the brothers begin to separate in their teen years, most decidedly by Jacob's decision to come out and Jonathan's turn to Orthodox Judaism. The conflict of brother against brother, biblical in its resonance yet filled with contemporary image and idiom, is also the grounding that allows Lowenthal to write about his main concern: how humans must create themselves as individuals while remaining part of a larger social fabric. Just as Jacob and Jonathan wrestle with one another over questions of sexuality and religion, The Same Embrace embodies two distinct and not usually conflated genres: the novel of gay identity and the Jewish family novel. Like the brothers' move towards reconciliation, one of the novel's strengths—along with its understanding of the human heart—is its ability to join these themes into a unified, extremely satisfying entirety that both moves and enlightens us. — Michael Bronski