A family of Eastern European refugees finds a home in racially charged St. Louis in this sweeping historical novel from a National Jewish Book Award finalist.
In 1916, Mags Preacher arrives in the big city of St. Louis, fresh from the piney woods, hoping to learn the beauty trade. Instead, she winds up with a job at Fishbein’s Funeral Home, run by an émigré who came to America to flee the pogroms of Russia. Mags knows nothing about Jews except that they killed the Lord Jesus Christ, but by the time her boss saves her life during the race riots in East St. Louis, all her perceptions have changed.
Marching to Zion is the story of Mags and of Mr. Fishbein, but it’s also the story of Fishbein’s daughter, Minerva, a beautiful redhead with an air of danger about her, and Magnus Bailey, Fishbein’s charismatic business partner and Mags’s first friend in town. When Magnus falls for Minerva’s willful spirit, he’ll learn just how dangerous she can be for a black man in America.
Readers of Mary Glickman’s One More River will celebrate the return of Aurora Mae Stanton, who joins a cast of vibrant new characters in a tale that stretches from East St. Louis, Missouri, to Memphis, Tennessee, from World War I to the Great Depression. Hailed as “a powerful reminder of the discrimination and unspeakable hardships African Americans suffered,” Marching to Zion is a gripping love story, a fascinating angle on history, and a compelling meditation on justice and fate (Jewish Book Council).
In her third novel chronicling the experience of Jews in the South, Glickman (National Jewish Book Award Finalist for One More River) captures the untamed Midwest of the 1920s and '30s, when the Mississippi offered an escape route and unleashed biblical wrath in the form of horrific floods. She follows the stories of two young upstarts: Mags Preacher, a plucky black girl bent on making it as a beautician in St. Louis, and Magnus Bailey, the first person Mags meets in the big city a dapper, smooth-talking black man who is in love with Minerva, the adopted daughter of a Jewish man named Fishbein, who runs the funeral home where Mags finds work. Glickman puts Minnie and Magnus's love affair through trial after trial: "They hurtled along a primrose path strewn with brambles sharp as arrow tips, studded with insurmountable boulders, crisscrossed by poisoned streams." In describing their downfall, she eventually focuses on the glimmering citadel of Eretz Israel and Zion as a paradise of tolerance "a solution to all our troubles," Fishbein says. But religion isn't the only thing that stirs Glickman to fervor: she writes in a high-drama, no-holds-barred style when it comes to romance. The result is a preachy yet entertaining novel about sins of the flesh and the redemptive power of belief.