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Cover of Leaving Brooklyn

Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Leaving Brooklyn

  • Introduction by Ursula Hegi
  • fiction
  • ISBN 0-9766311-4-8

With this erotic, exquisitely written novel, Lynne Sharon Schwartz confirms her status as one of our most daring and accomplished writers. Leaving Brooklyn is a book with and about double vision, and it brilliantly travels the boundaries between the visible and the hidden, conformity and subversion. Even as a child, Audrey has her own way of seeing: an injury at birth left her with a wandering eye. Though flawed, the bad eye functions well enough to permit her an idiosyncratic view of the world—shadowy edges, colors, the components of things before they congeal. The actual world around her is stifling—Brooklyn in the 1950s—and the emotional and political repressions that prevail make it next to impossible for an adolescent girl to find a larger, truer life. When Audrey journeys to Manhattan to see a doctor about her sight, when she explores the sexual rites of adulthood, she is finally able to leave the state of mind that is Brooklyn. Audrey tells an entrancing tale, one that asks provocative questions about the solipsism of childhood and the adult perspective in which memory and imagination interweave. In this startling and wonderfully rich novel, Lynne Sharon Schwartz raises the themes of innocence and escape to transcendent heights, even as she illuminates the very act of telling a story.


Finalist, 1990 National Book Critics Circle Award

Finalist, 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction

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Praise for Leaving Brooklyn

Lynne has told me that it was her intention to have this novel “read as a memoir … an autobiographical account, when in truth it is highly fictionalized.” Audrey’s vision – intuitive, daring – mirrors Lynne’s way of writing: going beyond what it apparent; challenging that mysterious border between imagination and memory; rejecting the stiff lens of conformity.

Some writers, I believe, are born with that odd and magical way of seeing, and Lynne is certainly one of them. For us, there is no other way of seeing: we’re drawn toward the kind of beauty we find in distortion, and we come to celebrate the gift and the persistence of our odd vision.

Ursula Hegi
Author of Stones from the River

Stunning. Coming of age is seldom registered as disarmingly as it is in Leaving Brooklyn.

The New York Times Book Review

Leaving Brooklyn will stay with the reader, and remain … in our literature, a small masterpiece.

The Boston Globe

Leaving Brooklyn is an enormously intelligent novel about female initiation … frankly, I’ve never read anything quite like it. It’s got an odd shape … the prose is very subdued … and it still lingers in my mind.

All Things Considered, National Public Radio

The blend of lyricism and history, of memory and the imagination – all shot through with the female erotic – is wonderful.

Russell Banks
Author of The Sweet Hereafter and Cloudsplitter

An electrifying book … it took my breath away. Audrey is every one of us at fifteen.

Maxine Kumin
Author of Where I Live: New and Selected Poems