New versions published six weeks before the release of The Land Agent, which is Simons’ concluding novel in his canonical Scottish-Jewish trilogy
J David Simons, Scotland’s pre-eminent Jewish novelist - whose novel last year, An Exquisite Sense of What Is Beautiful, was a bestseller - has re-edited the first two books in his magnum opus, the Glasgow to Galilee trilogy.
Both books are being re-issued by Saraband on 11 September 2014, before the publication of the trilogy’s finale, The Land Agent, published in hardback on 23 October 2014.
The Credit Draper, shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize, follows young Avram Escovitz, who is shipped off to Scotland in 1911 to escape conscription into the Russian army. Living in the heart of Glasgow’s tight-knit Jewish community, he dreams of playing for Celtic until World War I intervenes and he is sent to work as a credit draper, peddling goods on credit to Highland villagers. A stranger in a strange land, Avram is faced with the challenges of setting up a new business and capturing the heart of a Highland lass. But how easy will it be to shake off his Jewish roots?
The Liberation of Celia Kahn begins in Glasgow, 1915, against the background of rent strikes, anti-war sentiment and a revolution brewing in Russia. Celia, a young Jewish woman from the Gorbals, discovers a taste for protest, female solidarity, and the empowerment of women made possible by birth control. Her political sensibilities are fired up even further by a personal trauma, while a new love affair presents difficult choices.
Touching on issues of identity, displacement, community, feminism, alcoholism, socialism and idealism, these novels provide a valuable literary record of a community that has so far been unjustly neglected in fiction. More than that, though, Simons has given us two unforgettable stories deserving of a wide audience.