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A Novel

Daphne Merkin; With a New Foreword by Vivian Gornick


Enchantment Download image

ISBN10: 0374140391
ISBN13: 9780374140397

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304 Pages


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Set on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Enchantment is narrated by Hannah Lehmann, the wry survivor of a troubled childhood. Hannah's perceptions of her Orthodox German Jewish heritage—her five brothers and sisters, the complicated power of families, the madness of money, the obsessive workings of memory itself—are as disquieting in their sharpness as they are lucid in their irony.

The world, she finds, is a treacherous place where love is closely knit with pain, but even the limitations of her own point of view are not lost on Hannah. She is all too aware that her perspective is fixed in the vise of her childhood: “My mother,” she says, “is the source of my unease in the world and thus the only person who can make me feel at home in the world.”

This is a novel about what people say when they are talking to themselves; what families look like when they are not observed by others. Provocative, hawkishly observed, and devastating in its reliability, Daphne Merkin's Enchantment is a searing and unforgettable exploration of family and self.


Praise for Enchantment

“Much of the power of Enchantment comes from its directness—almost, at times, its brazenness—and from its determination to hold nothing back . . . A story that draws the reader on unresisting. ”The New York Times

"A lively, evocative, often amusing work. Through Hannah's voice, Merkin deftly captures the concentration on self-definition—as well as the doubt and frustration—of dawning womanhood . . . A pioneering novel."—Janet Hadda, Los Angeles Times

"These complexities . . . are what chiefly held my attention. But there is another quality—[Merkin's] boldness, lack of shame or modesty. The book fascinates by its openness, which repels at the same time. That's why I had to read to the very last page."—Mary McCarthy, author of The New York Times bestseller The Group

"Daphne Merkin's exquisitely written novel about a young woman who can't let go and who never learned to cut her losses is a supremely delicate and intelligent fiction . . . I quite admire the book."—Stanley Elkin, author of the National Book Critics Circle Award winners Mrs. Ted Bliss and George Mills

"A remarkable memoir, fictional or not. What is remarkable to me is how much being a Jewish girl of a certain sort growing up in New York is like being a Presbyterian boy of a certain sort growing up in Alabama."—Walker Percy, author of The Moviegoer, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction

"Daphne Merkin's Enchantment is extraordinary—piercingly painful and marvelously funny at once. She evokes childhood and the adult life that comes out of it with rare wisdom and charm."—Hilma Wolitzer, author of Ending and In the Flesh

"I ordinarily don't finish a novel this complex in two sittings, but I was bowled over."—Frederick Exley, author of A Fan's Notes, finalist for the National Book Award

"One of the most unusual voices in contemporary fiction . . . Burnishes some indelible portraits in the reader's memory . . . Always elegant and intellectual."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] piercing evocation of family life . . . gifted with rare insight and a deft and witty style."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Daphne Merkin; With a New Foreword by Vivian Gornick

Daphne Merkin is the author of the novel Enchantment, which won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for best novel on a Jewish theme, as well as two collections of essays, and a memoir, This Close to Happy. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, her essays frequently appear in The New York Times, Bookforum, The New Republic, Departures, ELLE, Travel + Leisure, Tablet, and many other publications. Merkin has taught writing at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount Manhattan College, and Hunter College, and she currently teaches at Columbia University’s MFA program. She lives in New York City.

© Tina Turnbow

Daphne Merkin

Official Links

Read an Article by the Author written for The New York review of Books

Read Articles by the Author written for the New Yorker