The Book of Norman probes Mormon-Jewish relationships and traditions with humor and thoughtfulness. A sibling rivalry erupts between brothers Norman and Jon Gould, who compete for their dead father's soul in this wild theological ride set in southern California during the Summer of Love. Norman, a recent drop-out from the New York Jewish Seminary, wants to catch up on his generation's sex, love, and rock 'n' roll. Yet when his doper brother Jon gets a buzz cut, sells his stash, and becomes a Mormon-in- training, the battle is engaged. As the religious tug-of- war ensues, Norman tries to pull his brother back to Judaism while Jon tries to prove to Norman that Mormonism is the truer path. The struggle culminates in a monumental and hilarious game of basketball pitting Norman and two gorgeous Jewish angels, Tali and Aviva, against a Mormon team headed by Wes, the Elder, and his compatriots.
Allan Appel, novelist and playwright, is the author of The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air; High Holiday Sutra, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection; and The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Raised in California and a longtime New Yorker, he lives in Connecticut, where he is a writer for the New Haven Independent.
"With wit and verve, Allan Appel has crafted a delightful comic novel. Best of all is its irresistible narrator-protagonist, uncertainly poised between belief and unbelief, family loyalty and rebelliousness. Underneath the clever plot twists is a genuine quest for wisdom and a warmth and tenderness rare in today's fiction." —Phillip Lopate, author of A Mother's Tale, The Art of the Personal Essay, To Show and Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction, and Waterfront: Walk Around Manhattan
"As fast-paced, audacious, and irreverent as a pickup basketball game played for human souls, The Book of Norman is a joyful romp through the minefield of American religious difference. Allan Appel writes with a verve and wit that transform his fearlessness into pure fun." —Peter Manseau, author of Songs for the Butcher's Daughter
"Allan Appel does it again! His unique blend of rabbinic play, stand-up comedy, and religious obsession has led him to produce a sly novel that explores how America's hunger for redemption bumps up against world-weary, Jewish hope and disbelief." —Rabbi James E. Ponet, Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain, Emeritus, Yale University
“I can't think of many novels that … manage to be intelligent and sympathetic to not one but two oft-misunderstood American religions…. Quite a feat.” Mark Oppenheimer, religion columnist, The New York Times
The Book of Norman, A Novel