Davita's Harp

By Chaim Potok

About the Novel

Set in New York City in the 1930s, Ilana Davita is the young narrator of this coming of age story. Her parents, Anna and Michael, have rejected their religious traditions (Judaism/Christianity) and are fervent communists. Davita perceives discord and disunity everywhere around her. She sees people discriminated against because of their political alignments. She understands from the stories she hears, first about the Spanish Civil War, then about World War II, that man is capable of unfathomable atrocities. Davita is introduced to the religions of her parents and to the liberating idea that she can decide for herself what she believes. As her world collapses around her, she draws comfort and a sense of community and belonging from Jewish practice. In Davita's Harp, Chaim Potok brings to bear the insight and generosity that have informed all of his novels in a story about how we learn and use faith, how it can fail us, and how it can help us know ourselves--alone and as part of an often confounding world.

About the Author

CHAIM POTOK was born and raised in New York City. He began to write fiction at the age of sixteen, was graduated with a B.A. summa cum laude in English literature, and earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. An ordained rabbi, he served as an army chaplain in Korea for sixteen months, with, successively, a front-line medical battalion and an engineer combat battalion. He is the author of nine other novels including The Chosen, My Name is Asher Lev, and The Promise. He died in 2002 at age 73. Davita's Harp is the only one of Potok's full-length novels to feature a female protagonist.


The NY Times Sunday Book Review