Eliot Sefrin

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OCTOBER, 2011
NEW NOVEL SELECTED FOR PRESTIGIOUS ‘RISING STAR’ PROGRAM


When poor black migrant Roosevelt Turner flees the segregated South during World War II to find work in Pittsburgh’s booming steel industry, and Jacob Perlman, a Jewish physician, escapes Nazi-occupied Austria to find a safe haven in America, neither has an inkling that the “promised land” they now call home will force them to confront the same racial venom they’ve run from all their lives.

But that’s precisely what occurs in Eliot Sefrin’s compelling new historical novel, Blood in the Promised Land, released in October, 2011 and selected for inclusion in the iUniverse Rising Star program, which recognizes excellence in writing and overall potential.

Blood in the Promised Land, Sefrin’s third novel, weaves two powerful human stories into a single, cohesive tale that paints a vivid, evocative portrait of an America in turmoil, a Europe ravaged by war, and World War II as a pivotal turning point for blacks and Jews.

Based upon real-life events in America, Europe, and the Caribbean, the novel chronicles the separate, arduous journeys of two men who, at first glance, could not be any more different.

An orphaned, impoverished sharecroppers’ son, Roosevelt Turner, is black and uneducated, a manual laborer who owns little more than his visions of a better life. Lonely and uncommunicative, he summons the courage to free himself from the racial shackles of the Jim Crow South, embarking on a solitary, six-month journey to Pittsburgh, where he works at a local steel mill while searching for an America consistent with its lofty ideals. In contrast, Jacob Perlman—an affluent, esteemed physician; married and the father of a teenaged daughter—is among the thousands of Jews forced to flee Vienna in the face of anti-Semitic Nazi terror. Stripped of all possessions, no longer licensed to practice medicine, he emigrates to Pittsburgh after a temporary stay in the Dominican Republic, working at a local medical clinic, and part-time as a cigar-factory lector, as he struggles to reclaim everything he has lost.

Beyond these vast differences, however, lie striking parallels between Roosevelt’s and Jacob’s lives. Each has been deeply scarred by harrowing pasts shaped by persecution and violence tied to his race or ethnicity. Each has been cast adrift from a life stolen by others. Each wonders if he’ll be able to purge painful memories, rid himself of unwonted emotions, and find a measure of peace in an America awash with both glowing promise and jarring contradictions.

When their paths unwittingly cross during a violent racial incident in Pittsburgh, their fateful encounter instantly reshapes their lives, permitting them to transcend their differences and exorcise the demons of their pasts. Their unlikely bond also thrusts them into the crucible of the civil rights movement, as they courageously join forces in an attempt to battle the kind of terrorist hate group that’s haunted them for years.

In Blood in the Promised Land, Sefrin has brought history to life by revealing how prejudice and bigotry existed on its home front even as America fought to preserve democracy abroad. This powerful novel will make people reconsider what it means to live in the land of the free, and inspire them with its depiction of how even the most downtrodden of people can make a difference.


 


 

AUGUST, 2009
NEW NOVEL WINS COVETED ‘EDITOR’S CHOICE’ DESIGNATION

The Death of Dahlgren Place, the newly published novel by award-winning author Eliot Sefrin, has achieved the coveted “Editor’s Choice” designation, awarded only to a select number of high-quality titles released by the novel’s publisher.

The book, released in August 2009, is Sefrin’s second novel. His first, Under A Cloud, was a critically acclaimed, award-winning story about a controversial police shooting in a poverty-stricken, minority neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.

The Death of Dahlgren Place is also set in Brooklyn, where Sefrin was raised and began his career as a newspaper reporter, feature writer, editor and magazine publisher.
Inspired by real-life events, the novel – through the eyes of its teenage protagonist, Nathan Wolf – chronicles both the trauma and triumph inspired by the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge—symbolic of the rise of modern-day New York and the unsettling close to Brooklyn’s fabled postwar ‘Golden Era.’

The book also takes readers on a journey that spans the years of the bridge’s construction: 1959, a time of optimism and innocence, through 1964, a year of turmoil and change marked by New York, and much of America, undergoing a sweeping metamorphosis.

“Dahlgren Place is a composite of many streets in quiet, close-knit, middle-class neighborhoods that existed in postwar New York, and still exist to this day,” Sefrin says.

“I wanted to convey what it was like to live on streets like that during a simpler, more innocent time – as well as the sense of loss, dislocation and anguish many people felt when they were forcibly evicted from neighborhoods that were routinely bulldozed during an era of massive public works projects reshaping the city.”

“Ultimately, however, I wanted The Death of Dahlgren Place to be a personal story of resiliency and hope – depicting how an unwelcome end to childhood sparks an exciting journey of self-discovery, as the death of his street and former way of life unexpectedly gives birth to a young boy’s dream.”

 



February, 2006

NEW NOVEL PROBES TOUGHEST ISSUES FACING POLICE OFFICERS


Police officers are indeed the ‘thin blue line’ – all that separates our society from anarchy and lawlessness. Constantly confronting the unknown, the unpredictable and the unimaginable, they never know the outcome of any situation which they’re called on to respond. Split-second, gut-wrenching decisions are often all that dictates their fate as a hero-officer or cop-deemed-criminal.

Sound like a tough job? You have no idea. 

Until now.

Eliot Sefrin’s debut novel, Under A Cloud, released this month, offers a unique, in-depth, inside look into the many of the issues facing ‘average cops’ and the public they serve. Beyond chasing bad guys and the ever-popular crime-scene investigation-type stories, Sefrin’s novel blends a composite of real-life incidents within an intense emotional shell, resulting in a book teeming with thought-provoking insights. Put simply, Under a Cloud is a book cops will love because of its realistic portrayal of their job, and the general public will find more insightful than nearly any book of its kind on the market. 

Under A Cloud
follows the story of Matt Holland and Rachel Cook (based on Sefrin’s wife, one of the first female police officers deployed on street patrol in New York), two highly-regarded white New York City police officers involved in a fatal shooting of an innocent black teen in a poverty-stricken Brooklyn neighborhood. The tragic and accidental shooting immediately triggers a bitter racial confrontation, and results in lengthy investigations and political maneuverings that threaten to destroy the community, shatter lives and overwhelm the truth. As violence and controversy wrack the city, the incident becomes the focus of a landmark civil rights case, while both the officers and the family of the slain teen struggle to come to terms with the tragedy. In the process, they are exposed first-hand to the stereotypes, history, hatred and fears that can divide us as a society – and the actions and emotions that can ultimately bond and help people heal.

As the riveting drama unfolds, timely and important issues are examined, including:

  • How a single, instantaneous decision by even a heroic and wrongly-accused police officer can result in a chain reaction that can rock a city, and change lives forever.
  • Race relations and the police – an uneasy peace in many minority neighborhoods.
    n The intense emotional impact ‘the job’ can have on police officers and their families, and how they can help each other cope with the job’s unrelenting stress.
  • The unique challenges faced by women in law enforcement.
  • The truth about police shootings, how they are investigated, and how officers and communities must live ‘under a cloud’ through lengthy, politically-charged probes.

“With Under A Cloud,” Sefrin explains, “I try to take the reader on a journey into the hearts and minds of people whose lives are profoundly reshaped by the kind of police shooting that, sadly, is often an inevitable byproduct of a very difficult job. The novel allows me to explore issues that are relevant to both police and the public, including the volatile social chemistry of race relations and how hysteria, abstractions and politics can blind us to the truth.”

“By delving into the internal crises these officers face while in the white-hot glare of the public spotlight, and by taking readers inside the home of the slain teen, I’ve tried to go beyond the ‘symbols’ or ‘cardboard cutouts’ that cops and victims typically become in police shooting cases, and make this a human story . . . a story of who we are and what we’re capable of being.”

“My wife, like legions of police officers, faced these challenges every day on the job,” Sefrin says. “I hope readers will gain an insight into not only what transpires in the life of a cop, but how incidents like the one depicted in Under A Cloud can lead all of us to experience chaos, pain – and, even more importantly, recovery.”

 

March, 2006
UNDER A CLOUD CITED BY PUBLIC SAFETY WRITERS ASSOCIATION


Under A Cloud has won the Grand Prize in the 2006 annual writing competition sponsored by the Bellingham, WA-based Public Safety Writers Association. The novel, by Eliot Sefrin, was honored at the PSWA’s annual conference in Las Vegas. The book, which explores a multitude of issues pertinent to law enforcement, was cited as “a wonderfully written book with an excellent plot.”