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.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: yona zeldis mcdonough, a wedding in great neck, books




Find us on Facebook!
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.