"Merrill Joan Gerber is not only one of our most underrated contemporary writers, she may well be our least pretentious. Her utter lack of pretense is a major source of her raw power as a writer, and it may also be one reason her work has not gained as much attention as it deserves. . . . In her latest novel, a tough little gem called Anna in the Afterlife, Gerber returns to one of her most memorable characters, Anna Goldman, the forceful, discontented mother of the young heroine in An Antique Man, more recently glimpsed in her 80s lying immobile, resentful and furious in a nursing home in the story collection Anna in Chains. Now, after seven years in the chains of her illness, Anna finally dies. The opening whisks us into the world-weary mind-set of its heroine: 'Once her dying got underway, Anna could not really complain about how the process moved along.'"—LA Times Book Review
“Once her dying got underway, Anna could not really complain about the way the process moved along.” So begins this deftly amusing, wryly perceptive look at the passing of a feisty, funny woman. During the four-day limbo that bridges her death and burial, Anna, who is “infinitely present, never dead, never stupid, and never done with it all,” gets to investigate the preparations for her own funeral, the true nature of her sister’s suicide attempt, and the revelations of her own sexual abuse by her half-brother.
She contemplates her parents-her impoverished Polish Jewish mother, her father who was obsessed with his digestive system-and she longs to remember her beloved husband, who is all but buried by time. She considers the origins of her bigotry and her reluctant capitulation to romantic and physical love.
In her final moments of consciousness, Anna has the last word on her own secrets and crimes before stepping into eternity.
Merrill Joan Gerber is a prize-winning novelist and short story writer. Her seven novels include Anna in Chains and The Kingdom of Brooklyn, (winner of the Ribalow Award from Haddasah Magazine), both published by Syracuse University Press.
5 x 7.25, 132 pages