A heartwarming, funny and provocative memoir of a woman navigating clashing cultures during her decades-long friendship with an Orthodox Jewish family, new in paperback
When 20-year-old student J. S. Margot took a tutoring job in 1987, little did she know it would open up an entire world.
In the family's Orthodox Jewish household she would encounter endless rules - 'never come on a Friday, never shake hands with a man' - and quirks she had not seen before: tiny tubes on the doorposts, separate fridges for meat and dairy products. Her initial response was puzzlement and occasionally anger, but as she taught the children and fiercely debated with the family, she also began to learn from them.
Full of funny misunderstandings and unexpected connections, Mazel Tov is a heartwarming, provocative and disarmingly honest memoir of clashing cultures and unusual friendships - and of how, where adults build walls, sometimes only children can dissolve them.
About the Author
J.S. Margot (b. 1967) is a journalist and freelance writer based in Antwerp. An award-winning contributor to leading national newspapers De Standaard and De Morgen, she has also written five novels and lectures regularly in both the Netherlands and Belgium. In 2017 she was awarded the E. du Perronprijs and the Prize for the best Religious book from the VUKPP for Mazel Tov, which was also highly acclaimed in the Dutch and Belgian press. Mazel Tov has been translated into German, French and Polish and won the Best Book Award in Poland; it is her first book to be translated into English.
"A gentle chronicle of empathy and understanding." - Guardian
"Margot's is an exceptional voice, illuminating a section of society rarely seen in a refreshingly frank manner. Mazel Tov is a book about finding familiarity in the strange, but also the stranger in ourselves, in which courage and humour save us from the usual romanticising. Any reader interested in the central questions of our time will find enlightenment here." - Deborah Feldman, author of the New York Times bestseller Unorthodox
"A brave and important contribution to our understanding of memory." - Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate
"So much more than a good read... What makes Mazel Tov especially attractive is that the author effortlessly succeeds in depicting real-life characters." - Cutting Edge
"A book that touched me deeply. Wow!" - Queen Mathilde of Belgium
"A must-read for everyone." - De Standaard
"A compelling and confronting story... beautifully written." - De Sleutel
"the unvarnished account of how two clashing cultures led to lasting friendship… Mazel Tov is a fascinating story about what is possible when pretenses are dropped and true bonds are allowed to form.” - Foreward Reviews