November 1, 2007

From My Bookshelf: Triangle, by Katharine Weber

I've been meaning to read Katharine Weber's novel, Triangle, pretty much ever since it was published. Another writer's reminder got me moving and I've just finished reading it. It's an excellent work of historical fiction, the root event of which is the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in lower Manhattan in 1911.

The book appeals to me on so many levels: as an historical novel; as one that's evidently inspired by some family history as well (Weber's paternal grandmother worked in the factory in 1909); as a work that portrays immigrant Jewish life in the era; and as one that is at least as concerned with how histories (and novels) are constructed as it is with their actual content. And in a way, this is also a "September 11" novel as well, a sub-genre of sorts in which I'm also very interested. The book is replete with interviews, transcripts, and other "devices" that keep things lively (and very interesting, to this academically-trained historian!).

For one of the best online discussions of this novel that I've found, read the January 2007 feature over at The Jewish Reader. And if you've read Triangle, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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