Michael Lowenthal

  • 1998, 1999
  • Dutton, Plume
  • ISBN 0525944168 & 0452279755
  • Hardcover, Paperback
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The Same Embrace

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)

Praise for The Same Embrace

"Deeply felt...Lowenthal uses luminous language that often imbues ordinary gestures and events with deeper meaning. The Same Embrace is an eloquent exploration of the nature of faith, the consequences of judgment and the stubborn endurance of family ties." New York Times Book Review

"[Lowenthal's] prose is limned with rich metaphors, and his story is populated with characters both likable and complex...The Same Embrace deserves to welcomed with open arms." The Philadelphia Inquirer

"There's scarcely a page in this well-crafted first novel that doesn't bristle with brilliant writing and keen insight." The Advocate

"A luminous depiction of family life and of sexual identity...impressive in the complexity of its craft and its vision." San Francisco Bay Guardian

"In this story of closely observed family dynamics, Lowenthal accomplishes the neat trick of showing the humane intent of Jewish traditions and laws while exposing the rigidity and intolerance that characterize its fundamentalist practitioners...A satisfying new twist on contemporary gay fiction." Washington Post Book World

"Lowenthal has a keen eye for details...and his assured dialogue, smooth weaving of the narrative back and forth in time, and layering of cultural, sexual and religious themes coalesce into an impressively crafted, moving debut." Publishers Weekly

"Lowenthal's rendering of the hesitant attempts at communication in a family scarred by bitterness and regret are precise and deeply moving...a fresh and provocative first novel." Kirkus Reviews

"A beautiful, compelling, and important first novel that brings sensitive issues into mainstream fiction and opens doors that are usually kept shut. This haunting novel will stay with you for a long time." Cleveland Jewish News

"The Same Embrace is a compelling story of growth under duress, understanding earned with pain, and ultimately, the potential for healing. Lowenthal's characters will linger in your heart. His insight into truth, religion, trust, family, tolerance, and a young man's search for wholeness will linger in your mind." Concord Sunday Monitor (New Hampshire)