Join us Wednesday, November 1st to hear author Linda Kass speak about her new novel Bessie, in conversation with Helen Schulman
This event is free and open to the public!
Just days after the close of World War II, Bess Myerson, the daughter of poor Russian Jewish immigrants living in the Bronx, is competing in the Miss America pageant. At stake: a $5,000 scholarship. The tension and excitement in Atlantic City’s Warner Theatre are palpable, especially for traumatized Jews rooting for one of their own. So begins Bessie.
Drawing on biographical and historical sources, Bessie reimagines the early life of Bess Myerson, who, in 1945 at age twenty-one, remarkably rises to become one of the most famous women in America. This intimate fictional portrait reveals the transformation of the nearly six-foot-tall, self-deprecating yet talented preteen into an exemplar of beauty, a peripheral quality in her world, where success is measured by intellectual attainment. Yet it is the focus on her beauty, and the secular world of pageantry, that she must choose to escape her roots and fulfill her fierce desire to achieve and become someone for whom great things happen.
Bessie is a tender study of a bold young woman living at a precarious moment in our cultural history as she searches for love and acceptance, eager to make her mark on the world.
Linda Kass is the author of two historical novels, Tasa’s Song (2016) and A Ritchie Boy (2020). She began her career as a magazine journalist and correspondent for regional and national publications. She is the founder and owner of Gramercy Books, an independent bookstore in Columbus, Ohio. Find her online at lindakass.com
Helen Schulman is an American novelist, short story, non-fiction, and screenwriter. Her fifth novel, This Beautiful Life, was an international bestseller, and was chosen in the 100 Notable Books of 2011 by the New York Times Book Review.