Judith Frank’s new novel grapples with parenthood and loss
Like one of the main characters in her new book, Judith Frank is an identical twin.
Frank, a teacher and writer, lives in Amherst with her partner, Liz Garland, and their children; her twin sister, a social worker, lives in Israel. One day, Frank says, she called her sister and said, “I’ve had this huge creative surge and it’s all predicated on a fantasy of your death!”
Luckily, both sisters have a sense of humor.
In “All I Love and Know,” Frank’s second novel, a gay male couple from Northampton are called to Israel after one partner’s twin brother has been killed in a terrorist bombing along with his wife. Even more disorienting, the two men find themselves facing instant parenthood of the dead couple’s two small children.
Frank says she was drawn to the idea of survival and what happens after a violent loss. She knew it would be a challenge to open the novel with news of a deadly bombing, yet, as she SAID IN A TELEPHONE INTERVIEW, it was important for her to write about Israel, where she lived from age 17 to 23.
Asked how she feels about the current conflict, she pauses. “It’s hard,” Frank says. “I worry for my friends — I love many Israelis — and at the same time I hear much less about the terrible toll on human life in places like Gaza.” Her book’s characters are similarly conflicted about the politics of Israel and Palestine, a tension the book explores, often alongside issues of gay rights and marriage equality.
Frank began the book years before becoming a parent — she now has 5-year-old twins — and she says having them “slowed me way down and also provided a lot of material.” Growing up in Amherst, she adds, her daughters “will probably never be the only kids in their class with gay parents. And that is a beautiful thing.”
Frank will read from her book Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge.