A stunning decades-spanning debut novel, about a man forced to confront his moral culpability, the legacy of impossible loss, and the claims of his Jewish identity. Paul Hartman, coming of age in postwar Rockaway, grows up haunted by the specter of his cousin Max, an Auschwitz survivor, and Max’s mysterious cache of diamonds, which fund Paul’s Harvard Law education and even sparkle in his fiancée’s engagement ring. When a stranger from his past confronts him with an impossible demand, one that could destroy his law career, his marriage and his sense of self, Paul must make choices that will change his fate forever.
“Five Stars (out of Five)! An incredibly engaging and thought-provoking story of one man haunted by the grief of his past. Max’s Diamonds, an excellent new work of fiction by Jay Greenfield, traces the life of a man hiding his past and a traumatic childhood. This is a story filled with secrets, lies, and an overwhelming sense of grief. …Greenfield fills his novel with richly drawn characters, each unique and interesting, flawed yet relatable…. It’s a place worth stopping by again, as the rich characters combine with beautiful descriptions of settings and, at times, an almost lyrical prose …. Themes of religious persecution, the consequences of lifelong guilt, and the difficulties of familial relationships and relationships created on a base of lies reside beneath the surface of this work, adding complexity as well as beauty.” —Tracy Fischer, Foreword Reviews
“Max’s Diamonds is a Bildungsroman, a mystery and a multi-generational survivor’s tale all at once. But above, it’s a hugely entertaining novel. Jay Greenfield has made a terrific debut.” —Leonard Cassuto, author, Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories
“A terrific read, fast-paced and darkly humorous …. Part parody of the American dream of self-determination, part tribute to a bygone world defined by the claims of heritage, this riveting debut novel pits the legacy of the Holocaust against the promise of East Coast ambition to measure the conflicting moralities of mid-century American Jews.” —Eve Keller, co-author, Two Rings: A Story of Love and War
“Jay Greenfield’s engrossing novel vividly depicts a young man’s coming of age in Rockaway, a close-knit beach community in New York, during and after World War II. The Holocaust and its aftermath affect him personally through the experiences of family members. Paul, the protagonist, becomes an ambitious young lawyer, but ultimately comes to terms with his identity as a Jew through his dramatic encounter with his Israeli daughter. We could not put this novel down.” —Lawrence Kaplan and Carol Kaplan, co-authors, Between Ocean and City: The Transformation of Rockaway, New York
Jay Greenfield was raised in Rockaway, New York. For several decades, he was a trial lawyer with a New York-based international law firm, where he argued in the Supreme Court of the United States, represented civil rights activists in Louisiana during 1964’s Freedom Summer, and was senior counsel in several cases establishing that, under New York law, homeless families have a right to shelter. He retired early to devote himself to writing fiction. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Judy; they have three adult children and three grandchildren. Max’s Diamonds (Chickadee Prince Books, 2016) is his debut novel.
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