Sisterhood Blog

Q&A With Novelist Yona Zeldis McDonough

By Sarah Seltzer

“A Wedding in Great Neck:” Family Mishegas Arrives Just in Time for the Nuptials

Yona Zeldis McDonough’s new novel “A Wedding in Great Neck” takes place over the course of a single day, as a Jewish family gathers for the lavish wedding (to a handsome Israeli) of Angleica, the aptly-named youngest daughter who at least appears to be the apple of the family’s eye.

In the fabled locale where Gatsby’s (and P. Diddy’s) parties epitomize American aspiration, the clan begins to fray at the edges while the band and photographer set up and the sky threatens rain. Among McDonough’s memorable characters are teenage Justine, whose surface anti-Israel fervor may mask more serious problems; divorced father of the bride Lincoln, desperate to make good after years of alcoholism, and matriarch Lenore, a bra-fitting expert who decides to take this one day to “fix” everything up for the troubled generations below her: kids, grandkids, great grandkids and more.

In an email exchange with the Sisterhood, McDonough discussed the inspiration behind Lenore, her novel’s structure, and gender in the literary world.

I have read wedding novels and novels that take place in a single day, but never both at once! What gave you the idea to combine them?

I had recently read — and was very impressed by — two other books that took place in a single day. One was the masterpiece “Saturday,” by Ian McEwan, which I thought was truly epic in its scope and depth. The other was Helen Schulman’s well-done and deeply moving “A Day At the Beach.” I was intrigued by the formal problems posed by creating a novel whose story unfolded in a day and I thought a wedding would offer a strong enough armature on which to base a plot structure of that kind.

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