Friday, May 22, 2015

Upper West Side Story By Susan Pashman book spotlight and giveaway

Book Details:

Book Title: Upper West Side Story by Susan Pashman
Category:  Adult fiction,  264 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Publisher: Harvard Square Editions
Release date: May 2015
Available for review in: print and ebook, mobi (for Kindle), PDF
Will send print books:  International
Tour dates: May 20 to June 10
Content Rating: PG
​* (Scroll down for explanation of rating)​

Book Description:

Meet Bettina Grosjean, a professor of Women’s History, and her husband, a high-ranking environmental policymaker in the New York City mayor’s office. Once a pair of student radicals, they are now raising their two brainy children on New York’s Upper West Side.

Here is the tale of their fierce parental love as it is tested in a startling eruption of racial hostility and political chicanery within the very community they have long loved and helped to build. Despite the deep love and affection they have for each other, their domestic life is suddenly thrown into crisis by a shocking and tragic event: During a school field trip, their son Max and his best friend, Cyrus, are horsing around when, in a freak accident, Cyrus falls down a flight of stairs, and dies a few days later.

The fact that Cyrus is black, that his mother is Bettina’s closest friend–that jealousy, suspicion and resentment have long been simmering in the community, and that there are powerful political forces at work as well–all conspire to reveal an ugly underbelly of the community the Grosjeans have worked so hard to fashion into a model of an enlightened, multiracial world.

Upper West Side Story is also the story of a remarkable multi-racial friendship, of two women united by their ideals and their devotion to their children, then divided by events that spiral out of control.

Meet the author: 

Susan Pashman is a philosophy professor and former attorney. While in law school, she served a year in the New York City Council President’s office; some of what she learned there has found its way into this story. But most of this book derives from her experience of raising two boys on her own in Brooklyn. Many of her sons’ childhood exploits, and the hopes and fears she had for them, became the heart of this novel.
She now resides in Sag Harbor, New York, with her husband, Jack Weinstein.
Connect with Susan: Website ~  Facebook Twitter    Goodreads

An Interview With Susan Pashman, Author of Upper West Side Story

Q. Why did you write this book?

A. I had two conversations with parents; both of them very earnestly concerned with raising their children to be race blind. One was my own brother who had a son in junior high school. He told me that he was so excited because four black children were going to be entering his son’s all-white class. It was a special program to introduce the white kids to black children so they could get a firsthand idea of black children; it would, I my brother’s words, “expose” his son to other kinds of kids.

I went home from that conversation enraged at the idea that the black children were being used, as I saw it, to educate my brother’s son. I had asked him how he and his son would feel if his son was “used” in the same way to educate black children. I thought kids were being used as objects in these experiments to give their parents a sense of moral superiority that I found obnoxious.

So that night, I found myself wondering how many things could go wrong in the scenarios my brother—and this other friend of mine—were setting up with their kids. Immediately, I envisioned what is the inciting incident in this book. One of the children getting severely injured and how the parents, both black and white, would react.

Q. When you write, do your characters come to you fully formed or do they unfold and develop along with the story?

A. Characters always develop lives of their own as you put them in one situation after another. For me, though, it is important to start with an idea and the easiest way to do that is to model each of my characters, even the very minor ones on people I know. This is not always the nicest thing to do to friends. But in this book, the characters who are based on friends are very nice people in the book so I don’t have a worry about that.

So I start out with people I can visualize, and I have some idea how they sound when they speak. After a while, the characters take on their own lives as I get to know them and move them through the book’s plot.

Q. One of the main characters in your book is a black woman. In fact, several of your main characters are black. As a white writer, did you find writing these characters a particular challenge?

A. The challenge was not to rely on stereotypes. The black people in my book are both young teenagers and their parents. I raised my own children in Brooklyn where they attended integrated schools and I had personal experiences with both kids and parents who are black, so it was not very difficult to do this.

What I always rely on my imagination for is the inner person, the feelings my characters have. Everyone’s emotions run pretty much the same way. So I just imagine myself in the place of the person I’m writing and I know the way that person will feel. For Viola, the black mother who is central to the plot, I was not imagining any particular person I ever knew, but I was sure of how she must feel in each of the circumstances the plot placed her in.

Q. Do you think unconscious racism is as big an issue now as when you began writing?

A. Well, this is the place to mention that this book was written and revised many times over a period of fourteen years. Unconscious racism was not even a phrase when I began writing this. We all knew that we harbored a certain bias against others; what we didn’t know or what we denied, was what many studies reveal now, that we all have preferences that influence our actions and that we tend to trust people who most resemble ourselves more than we trust others who do not. What the police shootings all over our nation now have shown us is that the people we most respect often harbor the worst racist bias, and that when people who have been taught to BEHAVE properly are under duress, their deeper feelings are revealed in their actions.

Where to buy the book:


Prizes: ​ 
 Win one of 15 copies of Upper West Side Story (Print for USA & Canada - ebook for international) One winner will also get a $25 Amazon Gift Card
Ends June 18

1 comment:

  1. I think its interesting to see how people react to adversity - or at least how the author perceives that people react.