A Partial List of Comments on Jane Lazarre's Books: Writers and Reviews

“Lazarre remembers her Communist Party organizer father and how she grew up in his “powerful, endearing, [and] at times intimidating” shadow. Romanian-born Jewish radical activist William Lazarre was dedicated to “justice, human equality [and] dignity.” In this moving memoir, Lazarre’s daughter, the distinguished author of both fiction and nonfiction, recalls his life by drawing on memory, court documents, and data from his FBI file. Reflective and intelligent, her narrative not only chronicles the life of a complex man; it also celebrates the power of memory and love. A poignantly lyrical memoir of family and politics.” Kirkus Review

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“I found this an intriguing, clear-eyed look at a corner of history, the Communist experience in America, that is usually just righteously condemned-or, occasionally, romanticized. Jane Lazarre’s vision of it is more subtle: she lived in this world as a child, and now looks back on it as a thoughtful adult.” Adam Hochschild

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“Here, in these beautifully written pages, Jane Lazarre invites readers to join her on a difficult journey through memory, history, family and self-discovery. This daughter’s story of her father yields insight into our own, never ending quest for love, justice, and understanding.” Farah Jasmine Griffin

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“Reading Jane Lazarre’s beautifully written memoir I was quickly drawn into her Jewish, immigrant left-wing family life. The story is filled with longings for the old world of Kishinev and the dreams for a perfected new world of justice and equality. The daughter writes of her father as a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, a single father pursued by the FBI, and called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. She brings to life their love and conflicts and his few years as a proud grandfather. She conveys the rich mixture of Yiddish language and Jewish history, the old world superstitions, the beauty and camaraderie of life in Greenwich Village of the 1950’s, and centrally the deep love between a father and daughter. Her father’s idealism and values are today central to the lives of her adult African American sons.” Rabbi Rachel Cowan

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“This extraordinary memoir captures the crazy, scary, intellectually heady experience of growing up with a single father who’s a true believer and a daring Communist activist. You need not have lived through the Red Scare to appreciate the impact of deeply held politics on the dynamics of family life, the contemporary relevance of Jane Lazarre’s personal story, and the lyrical grace with which she tells it.” Letty Cottin Pogrebin

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“Jane Lazarre here weaves a complex and fascinating memoir of her father, the life-long communist organizer and Spanish Civil War veteran, William Lazarre/Bill Lawrence. She writes movingly of her turbulent relationship with her father, of her rebellion during her teenage years, but also of his unstinting love for her. This book is an attempt to discover who her father really was, the significance of his life and his contribution as a communist to US society. In a meticulous, elliptical way, she builds up a fascinating interlace between the personal weft (what word?) and the political warp (what word?) of both their lives, and in doing so creates a fitting monument to a selfless and heroic US communist. This is a memoir rich in intelligent reflection of an aspect of US political history that receives little airing. A beautifully written and moving account.” John Green, The Morning Star, England

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“Jane Lazarre’s memoir about her father is at once an intimate look into a rocky father-daughter relationship and an account of the fascinating life of a leader in the American Communist Party….the personal narratives offer a picture of the Party that cannot be found in more scholarly treatments of the Party, and this sets this book apart….This is one of those books that deserves many audiences. And for that I am grateful, as I believe its appeal, like that of Lazarre’s earlier memoirs, makes an important contribution to understanding aspects of American history and social consciousness that are not explored nearly enough.” Emily E. LB. Twarog, Labor Journal

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“The Communist and the Communist’s Daughter tells the story of a family, of the struggle between old and new homelands, and of a man trying to balance his idealism with a reality that falls short of it.” Jeff Fleischer, The Forward

The Communist and the Communist's Daughter

“An important affirmation of a white woman’s love of her black sons. Jane Lazarre, warrior mom, has crossed over.” Alice Walker

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“This is a passionate, provocative, and moving narrative that should be on every American’s reading list.” Sekou Sundiata

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“In the end there is the great gift of being taken into the life of American black culture. On the way there, this mother and child – the most intimate of relationships from infancy – has no public or political recognition for years. A kind of love story and useful as well to people in interracial lives and families.” Grace Paley

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“Through the profoundly human caring of this book; its luminous beauty, passionate authenticity, truth and power; its multi-lensed and sourced hard-wrung wisdom – and yes, through the art with which it is written – we see, we feel, understand what we never have before, the ways of the Whiteness of Whiteness; and we are challenged, enlarged, and enabled, as was Jane Lazarre, to move beyond.” Tillie Olsen

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness will be the classic Lazarre’s Mother Knot has become, a book in which a piece of American experience gets its full telling, a necessary book.” Ann Snitow

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“…breaks new ground in using the memoir genre to examine constructs of race and the history of racism in the United States…” Maureen T. Reddy

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“This insightful Jewish mother opens our eyes to the pervasiveness of racism in our culture – a reality that Jews and other whites easily ignore.” Rabbi Rachel Cowan

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“An illuminating book…offers invaluable insights not just for those working to raise children in biracial families, but for all who would like to understand the notion of whiteness in order to see beyond it and reach for fairness.” Boyd Zenner, Women's Review of Books

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“A novelist, essayist and teacher, Lazarre presents her troubling but clear-eyes vision of her life and times with incisiveness and grace.” John Gregory Brown, Chicago Tribune

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“A beautifully written, deeply thoughtful journey into the worlds of self and other.” Kirkus Reviews

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“Lazarre’s voice is artful and measured…substantial food for thought for both white and black perspectives on the murky issue of race in America.” Publishers Weekly

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“Powerful, moving and beautifully written…” Richard L. Zweigenhaft, Greensboro News and Record

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness

“A powerful and poetic narrative that seems to float on a shifting surface of emotion. Memory seems buried, or drowned. Yet it breaks through. The novel strengthened my hope that art can stiffen our spines and shape up our thinking and feeling around race. Desire and love are radical and dangerous, and the ongoing effort to write seems like a rescue mission, a deep diving and life saving mission.” Sekou Sundiata

Inheritance

“This book is simply wonderful. Lazarre has woven a rich tapestry in which the past insists on itself in the lives of several American families. Beautifully orchestrated, her white characters must confront racism because of their love for black husbands, children, sisters, friends and teachers. Their journey from slavery to the present is unforgettably rendered. A fierce and honest novel that once again proves the searing truth of fiction.” Beverly Gologorsky

Inheritance

“Persimmon Tree, an on-line magazine for older women, published quarterly in association with Mills College, is honored to include in its premier issue an excerpt from Jane Lazarre’s unpublished novel, Inheritance. This beautifully written story reveals the subtleties of emotion that exist between white and Black people who love each other but have to navigate the incomprehensibility and ugliness of racial discrimination. A gripping story, it shows how the themes of race play out in the most personal ways.” Nan Gefen, Publisher, Persimmon Tree

Inheritance

“Some Place Quite Unknown is as intimate and urgent as a confessional poem. Lazarre’s enraptured and lyrical prose probes, with admirable rigor and dazzling artistry, the deepest places of a woman’s heart. This is a powerful and original work.” Jaime Manrique

Some Place Quite Unknown

“A beautiful, profound and original novel…I could delve into it over and over and each time be freshly rewarded…Lazarre’s prose is stunning, as lyrical and metaphoric as it is multifaceted, and the journey of following her intricate interweaving of ideas and storytelling is akin to reading The Golden Notebook or Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins…This is a contemporary classic.” Marnie Mueller

Some Place Quite Unknown

“…as intimate as a memoir, as beautifully worded as a piece of poetry – looks like a quiet book on the surface, but it’s much more. It’s a whisper that leaves the main character Celia’s throat and grabs hold of the reader’s.” Rain Taxi

Some Place Quite Unknown

“…Deliberate in its interweaving of narrative, dream and a questing, questioning first person voice, Lazarre’s latest novel delves into the nature of the mind, adaptive amnesia, the dioramas of therapy, and the importance of personal history. . . a deeply moving story. . . ” Gently Read Literature

Some Place Quite Unknown

“She has it right! Perhaps even workers in the field will learn something about how patients feel. Thank you Jane Lazarre from all of us…” Lucille Clifton

Wet Earth and Dreams

“Jane Lazarre has always been one of our bravest writers. She once again makes an art of raw fierce honesty as she moves through encounters with pain, loss, illness and death.” Jessica Benjamin

Wet Earth and Dreams

“A moving book crafted with exquisite care by a remarkable woman.” Kathleen Woodward

Wet Earth and Dreams

“Jane Lazarre’s voice sustains me though the terror of my own most grievous losses. her spiraling narrative shows how grief that seemed a wall can become a door.” Jan Clausen

Wet Earth and Dreams

“A wholly original and important book…I cannot imagine a woman who would not be moved, or a man who would not be enlightened.” Adrienne Rich

The Mother Knot

“The Mother Knot deserves a permanent place in the stirring body of testimonial literature American feminism has given rise to.” Vivian Gornick

The Mother Knot

“Reading The Mother Knot more than twenty years after its first publication, I am struck by how contemporary this terrific book seems – it is a modern feminist classic, certain to leave its readers changed from the experience of reading seldom spoken truths.” Maureen T. Reddy

The Mother Knot

“There is a marvelous amplitude, a sensual, moral, caring dimension, a dense substance to this life embracing novel. As expected of the author of the pioneering Mother Knot, mothering, children, are present with immediacy, depth, truth, almost no other writers summon, but this is far more. Those children, the young, the ripening, the coming to be old, the successor young are evoked for us – as is Charlotte herself – through the saga of her erotic, emotional, intellectual artist-being – a wonderful achievement. Set into the changing societal context bordered by mystery, beauty and death, the result is rare to come out of literature; tenderness for life, respect for human beings – power indeed.” Tillie Olsen

The Powers of Charlotte

“A Powerful novel containing most of the things most women care about most.” New Directions for Women

The Powers of Charlotte

“Lazarre weaves her drama of family relations with a focus on art and sexuality, and all the messy ambiguities that characterize real life.” Kirkus Review

The Powers of Charlotte

“A beautifully written tour de force of a novel in the spirit of Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood.” American Book Review

The Powers of Charlotte

“Jane Lazarre’s new book is a special sort of literary adventure. It has the rich, dense texture of life itself.” Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Worlds Beyond My Control

“Jane Lazarre has written a wonderful novel – generous, wise, brave and enthralling.” Sara Ruddick

Worlds Beyond My Control

“Lazarre combines the genres of fiction and memoir to weave a work that is quite unique. Maybe sublime.” Lynda Schor

Worlds Beyond My Control

“A very contemporary document. Meditative, often lyrical…compassionate and honest.” The New York Times Book Review

On Loving Men

“I’ve read so many books by now in which women have written in blood and bitterness about their experience with men that it came as a relief to see how someone is managing to reconcile conflicting feelings without rancour. I saw myself and a dozen of my friends in the woman she writes about.” Rosellen Brown

On Loving Men

“…a perfect matching of subject and form…The dignity, spareness, the fairness and compassion for everyone in the story make it a delight to read…At her best, Lazarre takes chances which few of today’s fiction writers, more mannered and strategic, would.” Philip Lopate

Some Kind of Innocence