In “Away,” Amy Bloom crafts a masterful epic about the journey of Lillian Leyb, a Russian emigrant in flight from a horrific pogrom that destroys her family, who winds up in New York on her feet (and on her back, at times) as a mistress of an impresario of the Yiddish theater. When she finds out that the daughter she thought perished might be alive, she sets out on the impossible journey to Siberia by way of crossing America into Alaska. Bloom manages to tell a sprawling story in an economical 240 pages; the only casualty perhaps is the inner life of Lillian, whose dreams we get to know better than her soul. Nevertheless, it’s a journey laced with colorful characters befitting the frontier times, and one whose eventual conclusion keeps propelling the reader forward along with Lillian. (Brian Hieggelke)
Amy Bloom reads from “Away” September 20 at Bookstall, 811 Elm, Winnetka, (847)446-8880, at 7pm. Free.