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After Abel and Other Stories

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Finalist, 2015 National Jewish Book Award

Honorable Mention, Sophie Brody Medal, American Library Association

One of the Jewish Book Council's "15 fiction books that shaped Jewish literature in 2015"

Eve considers motherhood.
Miriam tends Moses.
Lot’s wife looks back.

Vividly reimagined with startling contemporary clarity, Michal Lemberger’s debut collection of short stories gi
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Prospect Park Books (first published March 16th 2015)
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Kathryn Bashaar
Jun 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was right up my alley: retelling of Old Testament Stories from the perspective of the women, such as Lot's wife and King David's wife Michel. The author is a scholar in both religion and literature, so she didn't just go off on a tangent and rewrite the Bible to suit herself or to suit 21st-century feminist sensibilities. She wrote from the perspectives of women, but true Ancient-World women. The stories brought these ancient stories to life for me, and made them feel more personal and ...more
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've been waiting awhile to get to these short stories; when I first heard about them, my interest in biblical retellings was reignited. I kind of/sort of attempted this for one NaNoWriMo, where without much in the way of scholarly merit, I tried to imagine the lives of the matriarchs. Lemberger, with all of her knowledge and empathy, accomplished what I might have dreamed of had I taken this task more seriously. I was at least vaguely familiar with almost all of the stories presented here, but ...more
Looking forward to discussing this collection of biblically inspired short stories with the "Lunch & Learn" ladies at Sukkat Shalom! ...more
I was absolutely blown away by this book. It is an attempt to take Biblical women and give them their own story where they are the main character: the protagonist. It succeeds marvelously at this. Although they are each only given a short story, each of them made me empathize with the women in question, and want to see endings better than the ones I knew they'd have, because I read the Bible, too. Each woman has her own voice from Eve questioning her mothering skills to Michel asking her husband ...more
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. If you are interested in women in the bible, this is a must read. Surprising, smart, well crafted and researched. A great example of modern biblical storytelling.
A brilliant retelling of Biblical stories through a Jewish, feminist perspective.
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-pandemic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
'After Abel' is an ambitious but accomplished collection of short stories that attempts to define the female experience within the confined margins of the Old Testament. It is not a re-imagining or an attempted modernisation (if admittedly, the very attention given to these biblical women is somewhat modern). Instead the author seeks spaces where females exist and allows these women to move freely without censorship. The author manages to envision these women whom attempt to navigate the complex ...more
James Frederick
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a really interesting book. I cannot say that I enjoyed reading it, because the stories portrayed and the way the characters were treated was just brutal. There was little hope to be found here. That is true for SOME of the stories in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. (All of the stories in here are taken from the Old Testament.) But you feel beat up time and time again.

These are fictionalized/imagined accounts of what women in some of the Bible stories would have felt and tho
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a brutal and beautiful read. It probably has much to do with being an older woman, where I can look back on life as a woman and feel so strongly for the women in these stories. Each story is uniquely luminous, and , but of all of them, it was "Saul's Daughter" that finally ended me. Women have always had to make hard choices, based on the roles that have been chosen for them, but sometimes we are very good at denial. This is, after all, the way things have always been, and it isn't ...more
KC Snow
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I think, without a doubt, if I knew the original bible stories that "After Abel" retells I would give this book five stars. But I'm only familiar with the first story of Adam and Eve. That said, I still really enjoyed this book. The concept. The execution. The style. The tone. The casualty each narrator has towards the men in her lives is inspiring and entertaining. Of course, I imagine life for women back then was far more brutal than even these stories reveal, I appreciated, still, the way eac ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the stories. The woman's point of view was so interesting, and the imagination of a story within a "known" story was great. I also liked the last chapter about how this all came about, and the discussion of the Book of Ruth. Read this for book club, and am excited about meeting the suthor at our club meeting. ...more
Allen Kirschenbaum
Wonderful Alternate View of Old Testament Stories

I strongly recommend this book because it take well known stories and re-imagines what the other people in the story were thinking and doing. That gave me a new appreciation for the original story.
Jul 18, 2019 added it
This book was suggested for our book club. Powerful, timeless stories of women of courage. I highly recommend this book.
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great read. The voices of all the characters are so clear and well-rendered.
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the female view of the bible stories. Very interesting
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Women stories of the Bible!

Another way to look at the Biblical stories. A great selection. I am sorry that there were no more. Beautifully written. Sensitive and amazingly real.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am so glad that I am reading this for a book club. There is so much to discuss here, such rich content in such a slim volume. I am enjoying it immensely, and I cannot wait to unpack this with the wise ladies of my Book Club.
Becca Tullman
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I am still stunned. Michal Lemberger has opened my mind to new possible perspectives and insights that might be drawn from the few clues the original biblical text provides about the nine women at the center of these stories. She has brought this selection of biblical women to life in full color and with well rounded detail.

Instead of hearing the author's consistent voice throughout the stories, I was swept up in each woman's entirely unique voice. Eve, with noone before her to guide her in the
Lisa Feldman
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! In particular the stories about Lot's wife and the one about Michal are wonderful. You can see he author's deep knowledge of the text and scholarship in her rebelling of these famous tales. ...more
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
7 years of religious school, and I still only had the most passing familiarity with the Bible. Sure, I've enjoyed the greatest hits: Cain & Abel, Baby Moses in the bulrushes, Joseph and his jealous brothers, and the binding of Isaac (particularly resonant as I currently live with a smart-mouthed 15 year old boy -- perhaps I'm taking the wrong message from that story these days...) I saw the women of the Bible get their lip service, and I shrugged it off as the product of a patriarchal time. What ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc, librarything
After Abel and other stories by Michal Lemerger was a book that I thought I would like based on advance praise I read. I'm sorry to say that after several attempts to read this I was unable to finish it.

When I read a book based on biblical stories I don't expect to see some of the language that was used in at least one story. As I could not bring myself to read the entire book, I can't say if it is only one story or more.

The story of Lot's Wife doesn't mention God, and was totally different from
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This marvelous collection of stories takes Biblical tales and retells or expands on them from the female point of view (e.g. the story of Cain and Abel told by their mother, Eve). Those well versed in the Bible will draw more from these stories, but as someone not well versed in the Bible, the author's concept and adept storytelling carried me through. ...more
Sally Irvine
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not as revelatory as I hoped. The concept was great, reselling bible stories from the view of shadowy women, often ones barely mentioned. But without a deeper knowledge of the Bible than I have, much was unfathomable and meaningless. The opening one on Eve was good, but thereafter I lost interest and the rather clunky writing did not inspire me to try harder.
Jan 20, 2017 rated it liked it
This was pretty good. I was hoping for more along the lines of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Michal Lemberger covered a lot of ground and a lot of ladies so these short stories were a glimpse into what could still be better fleshed-out. I hope she will pick a subject and write a full story. I think she has the potential to add competently to the canon.
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Powerful, sad, beautiful... these are stories built around the women of the Bible, who are pretty much skimmed over in the Bible. Eve's story will stay with you for a long, long time, and the story of Miriam letting go of her little brother Moses is so beautiful. ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this collection of Biblical stories from the viewpoint of female characters. Some of the women are only briefly mentioned in the Bible, but they become real here. The story of Michel, daughter of Saul, is heartbreaking.
Rayna Forman
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Terrific interesting short stories about characters in the Bible. These are not your typical Biblical tales; each story takes you into the mind of the characters...mostly the women. Very creative, educational and entertaining.
Erika Dreifus
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Some thoughts on the My Machberet blog:
The Jewish Book Council
Review by Deborah Miller for the Jewish Book Council. ...more
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Jewish Book Club: After Abel and Other Stories 1 10 Jan 01, 2018 07:41AM  

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Michal Lemberger's nonfiction and journalism have appeared in Slate, Salon, Tablet, and other publications, and her poetry has been published in a number of print and online journals. A story from After Abel, her first collection of fiction, was featured in Lilith Magazine. Lemberger holds an MA and PhD in English from UCLA and a BA in English and religion from Barnard College. She has taught the ...more

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