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the last jewish virgin

A Novel Of Fate by JANICE EIDUS

"... Witty and incisive... Eidus pours it on in this read-without-stopping tale of Jewish and feminist identities assaulted by raw sexual magnetism and otherworldly powers. A smart, vampy, campy send-up."

"Janice Eidus has written the quintessential New York vampire novel. The Last Jewish Virgin delves head-on into the secret desires of Lillilth Zeremba, fashionista and feminist, a good Jewish girl who falls prey to the enigmatic art professor who devours her with his eyes. Sexy and smart, this delicious page turner will suck you in."
Marcy Dermansky, author of BAD MARIE

"Forget the anorexic, corpse-inspired styles of Ann Demeulemeester, Gareth Pugh and Rick Owens. This spring the well-dressed female vampire will "use her cape to show off her healthy, voluptuous figure," says Janice Eidus, author of The Last Jewish Virgin, a novel about a New York fashionista who develops a hankering for a guy she suspects is one of the undead."
Examiner.Com (read the full review below)

More praise and interviews below
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A playful & suspenseful new novel from the acclaimed author of The War Of The Rosens. A selection of The Jewish Book Council

In this playful and provocative, sensual and suspenseful novel, Janice Eidus merges the timeless, romantic myth of the vampire with contemporary life in volatile New York City—and beyond. Unlike most current "Vamp Lit," The Last Jewish Virgin will appeal to multi-generations as it explores faith vs. secularism, the complicated love between mothers and daughters, and the lure of "bad boys" to women of all ages.

The Last Jewish Virgin is Lilith Zeremba, a vibrant young woman in rebellion against her emotionally complex feminist mother. Lilith is determined to make her own way—on her own terms—in the world of fashion, but she unexpectedly finds herself in a place where mythology and sexuality collide. She meets two men to whom she is drawn in ways that feel dangerous and yet inevitable: the much older, wildly mercurial and mesmerizing Baron Rock, and Colin Abel, a young, radiant artist determined to make the world a better place, one socially progressive painting at a time.

The Last Jewish Virgin, an innovative, humorous, and universal tale of longing and redemption, refreshes and reinvents the classic vampire myth for a contemporary world in which love, faith, and politics are forever intersecting and evolving.

* JANICE EIDUS, two-time O.Henry Prize winner, author of The War Of The Rosens, lives in Brooklyn, New York and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Check out the Reader's Guide (PDF format).

Buy it from Amazon.



* January Magazine's Best Books of 2010 List

"Eidus uses the contemporary idea of "vampire" as a way to explore issues of sexuality, mythology and family. Or maybe the author is just having some fun. Either way, The Last Jewish Virgin is quite beyond the sum of its parts."
India Wilson, January Magazine

"Mazel Tov! It's Twilight ... with a sense of humor, a brain, and a feminist subtext ... I tell you, the Undead have been waiting a long time for Janice Eidus."
Marion Winik, NPR commentator, Advice Columnist, Ladies' Home Journal, author of First Came Love

"Nobody writes about Jewish cultural life quite as funnily and piercingly as Janice Eidus."
Mindy Lewis, editor, Dirt: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House

"Janice Eidus reinvents the classic vampire legend in The Last Jewish Virgin: A Novel of Fate (Red Hen Press). Set in contemporary New York City, Lilith Zaremba, a young fashion student who is the last Jewish virgin, rebels against her feminist Jewish mother as she tries to find her own way. Eidus writes with humor, originality and understanding of urban Jewish life. The winner of two O.Henry prizes, she lives in Brooklyn and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico."
The Jewish Week

"... Witty and incisive Eidus (The War of the Rosens, 2007) has always drawn our attention to the divide between fantasy and reality, emphasizing the inescapability of the latter. She now reverses direction. New Yorker Lilith Zeremba dreams of success as a fashion designer, a pursuit her widowed Jewish feminist intellectual mother considers frivolous at best. Beth is so sensitive to gender inequality, she believes women should rid their sexual fantasies of any hint of submission. Her daughter goes one step further: Lilith is determined to remain a virgin until she establishes her career. But this is not the message she sends when she shows up for her first day of art school in sexy vampire attire. Her risque outfit gets an A from her intimidating drawing instructor, a chiseled man-in-black with mirrored sunglasses and the wicked name Mr. Rock. Eidus pours it on in this read-without-stopping tale of Jewish and feminist identities assaulted by raw sexual magnetism and otherworldly powers. A smart, vampy, campy send-up."
Donna Seaman, Booklist

"There's nothing that I love more than fashion and Jewish humor (I'm a Jew myself) and Janice Eidus combined the two in her new novel The Last Jewish Virgin. Determined to make her own way, on her own time, Lilith Zeremba is obsessively driven to become (and recognized as) a successful Jewish woman in the world of fashion design. To break away from her traditional roots she attends Bennett Institute of Art & Design. Of course, a fabulous love story must come into play when she's drawn to two men that feel dangerous, yet inevitable...maybe they're goys, the perfect Jewish rebellion. Jew or Goy, Mazel Tov on The Last Jewish Virgin and bringing some eroticism into Judaism."

"... The twist [in The Last Jewish Virgin] is that is refreshes and reinvents the classic vampire myth ... [Eidus] knows how to create a compelling story."
Alan Caruba, Book Views

"An aspiring fashion designer who lives with her Jewish intellectual feminist mother in contemporary New York City, Lilith Zeremba plans to conquer the fashion world (she's going to call her first clothing line "The Edgy Femme"). To become successful, Lilith is determined to remain chaste—the last Jewish virgin. "Lust, sex, love, and marriage will all take backseats to my ambition," she tells the reader. Lilith's choice of career and hungry ambition puts her at odds with Beth Katz-Zeremba, who's raised her only child to lead a life dedicated to tzedukah (charity) and tikkun olam (repairing the world)... The author's take on mother-daughter conflict is complex and engrossing... it's the conflict between Lilith's ambition/virginity and the temptations that come her way that fires the book forward with a page-turning suspense. And Eidus colors this conflict with an affectionate send-up of Lilith's youthful hypocrisy—which, along with the book's distinct New York locales, adds to the fun." (read the full review)

  From the

"Forget the anorexic, corpse-inspired styles of Ann Demeulemeester, Gareth Pugh and Rick Owens. This spring the well-dressed female vampire will "use her cape to show off her healthy, voluptuous figure," says Janice Eidus, author of "The Last Jewish Virgin," a novel about a New York fashionista who develops a hankering for a guy she suspects is one of the undead.

As for the fashionable male vampire? "It's a return to the 70s and the Frank Langella look. High collars and swirling capes, along with languid expressions," asserts Eidus, tongue only partially in cheek.

Although her last novel, "The War of the Rosens," and her two previous ones, "Urban Bliss" and "Faithful Rebecca," are in a more realistic vein which does not involve vampires, Eidus has been fascinated with the undead since childhood, when she fell in love with the old Hammer Studios movie version of Dracula.

Since then, she's become a vampire connoisseur. Eidus has watched all the films—from "The Fearless Vampire Killers" (directed by Roman Polanski, 1967) to "The Hunger" (starring Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve, 1983)—and tracked down the stories and novels—from the original "The Vampyre," (John Polidori, 1819) to "Fledgling," (Octavia Butler, 2005). Somewhere along the way, writing her own version of the myth became more-or-less inevitable.

"One day I was on a plane," says Eidus, "and an image came into my head. It was of a woman looking back from the vantage point of being a vampire. I had no plot yet. But I had a voice and a character."

"The Last Jewish Virgin" is not your classic vampire tale. Set in contemporary New York City, with a Jewish, fashionista heroine named Lilith and a hipster love interest who wears mirrored sunglasses, the story does as much to tweak the genre as to pay homage to it. It's also a humorous and sometimes sardonic celebration of New York Jewish culture, from the Upper West Side intelligentsia to the Lower East Side's recent gentrifiers.

Lilith is a freshman at the Bennett Institute of Art and Design, and by her own assessment, the last Jewish virgin. She's saving herself for her intended career, as a high-powered designer. But Beth, Lilith's Jewish, feminist mother, is not pleased. She's disappointed by the career plans: "The only life worth living," she announces dogmatically, "is one dedicated to tzedakah and tikkun olam." (That translates from the Yiddish as "charity" and "saving the world.") Furthermore, Beth proclaims, Lilith's attachment to her virginity is "smug and retro."

With a mother like that, what girl wouldn't flee into the arms—not the mention fangs—of a vampire?

Striding through the streets of Chelsea, in pointy-toed boots, a tight silk dress, and a velvet cape flung dramatically over her shoulders, Lilith makes herself irresistible bait to Mr. Rock, her black-clad, pale-faced art teacher who wears mirrored sunglasses and has a thing for coffins. From the start, it's clear the ice-cold Mr. Rock toys with his students the way a cat toys with mice. But, when he flashes his glittering white teeth at her, Lilith turns molten. Of course, she knows the rules, and plays hard to get, coyly cutting class for a week, after modeling for him at his cavernous downtown studio.

Is Mr. Rock really a vampire, or just a kinky guy who enjoys giving young girls the willies? Will Lilith fall into his clutches? Will she allow the nice Jewish boy she's met at school to save her? Or will she turn her back on the whole romance thing and become the feminist her mother always wanted her to be? Eidus keeps you guessing until the end.

Although the author denies having been involved with any vampires herself, she does admit to a few past relationships with vampire-like characters. "They sucked the life out of me," Eidus says ruefully. "But they've never been as fascinating as Mr. Rock. I wish!"

Beyond the hot romance of ice-cold lovers, half the fun of this book is recognizing the New York "locations" that are the possible stalking grounds of vampires. Bennett Institute of Art and Design, Lilith's school, on the Lower West Side is, of course, the Fashion Institute of Technology. The government-subsidized, high-rise housing for artists, where Lilith's aunt Tante Molly lives, would be Manhattan Plaza. And Lilith's ghoulish hipster paramour lives—where else but in a deserted building just off the Bowery.

"As a New Yorker who's moved more times than I would have liked to, I have a feel for the city and its changing neighborhoods," says Eidus, who has lived in the Village, Chelsea, the Upper West Side, the Bronx and Brooklyn. "Where somebody lives can say a lot about their personality."

For a more detailed topography of undead New York, you'll want to read the book. Meanwhile, I have one hint to offer: next time you're crossing Eldridge Street, think about zipping up your parka and donning a football helmet."

"Janice Eidus's smart New York comic novel features a Jewish feminist author—mom, who lectures her daughter about the value of her Jewish and female identities and the importance of tzedaka and tikkun olam."
Hadassah magazine (read the full review PDF)

"The Last Jewish Virgin is a uniquely intelligent novel which defies genre. It is a meditation on vampire mythology, exploring the archetypal bond between mothers and daughters and calling attention to the link between Judaism and feminism. It acts as a daring odyssey in search of the self. The novel surprises us, entertains us, and challenges us to discover what is the most creative and dynamic within us."
Bookmark (read the full review PDF)


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