Start Without Me

Start Without Me

The author of the critically acclaimed The Book of Jonah explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance in this mesmerizing tale that unfolds over one Thanksgiving Day.

Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, nieces and nephews—all who have seen him at his worst—he can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always be the one who can’t get it right.

Marissa is a flight attendant whose marriage is strained by simmering tensions over race, class, and ambition. Heading to her in-laws for their picture-perfect holiday family dinner, her anxiety is intensified by the knowledge she is pregnant from an impulsive one-night-stand.

In an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning, Adam and Marissa meet. Over the course of this day fraught with emotion and expectation, these two strangers will form an unlikely bond as they reckon with their family ties, their pasts, and the choices that will determine their way forward.

Joshua Max Feldman focuses his knowing eye on one of the last bastions of classical American idealism, the Thanksgiving family gathering, as he explores our struggles to know—and to be—our best selves. Hilarious and heartrending, Start Without Me is a thoughtful and entertaining page-turner that will leave its indelible mark on your heart.

The Book of Jonah
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The Book of Jonah

“The storytelling, infused with energy throughout, gathers momentum and culminates in an enigmatic, unexpected ending … Worth applauding.”
—Carmela Ciuraru, New York Times

“A universal, timeless tale of loss and the longing for meaning.”
—Sara Nelson, Editorial Director, Amazon.com; named Featured Debut, Best Books of February, 2014

“THE BOOK OF JONAH is a debut that heralds great promise. With shrewd allusion, finely wrought characters and a pulsing, page-turning narrative, Feldman works new and inventive wonders from an ancient template.”
—Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A beautifully fulfilled debut novel … Feldman chronicles Jonah’s and Judith’s transitions with exceptional art and skill, and often with great humor … A genuine page-turner.”
—Earl Pike, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“An enticing debut novel.”
—Publisher’s Weekly

“It is rare that a novel juxtaposes the contemporary world and the biblical one in such dramatic fashion. THE BOOK OF JONAH is a compelling read, a clever deconstruction of modern life as reflected in an ancient and timeless lens.”
—Abraham Verghese, author of CUTTING FOR STONE

“The text of the biblical Book of Jonah is minimal, and its God and its Jonah are ciphers, and their motives enigmatic, but the Jonah of Joshua Feldman’s novel is fully realized, a New York corporate lawyer making recognizable compromises until, brushed by the divine, his world dissolves. This absorbing novel gives form to an opaque and ancient story while retaining that story’s mystery.”
—Zachary Mason, author of THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY

“A beguiling first novel … Feldman is a tremendously endearing writer. His satire lacks that astringent bitterness that can make some witty novels seem heartless. And his willingness to pose the big questions to the whirlwind makes for unusually thoughtful reading.”
—Ron Charles, Washington Post

“An entertaining and thought-provoking debut.”
—Adam Kirsch, Tablet Magazine

“Deft and entertaining … What a sweet tale this is. While Feldman’s prose is assured and sophisticated, the story is one of the oldest. And, in this telling, is worthy of repeating.”
—Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News

“Tremendously entertaining … The book succeeds because Feldman is a master of plot and pacing with a preternatural gift for keeping the reader hooked.”
—Fernanda Moore, Commentary

“Audacious … There’s something about a master narrative that crushes cliché to a powder with its looming, mystical weight, and taking the long view, Feldman is doing some deft meta-investigation of the Jewish novel.”
—Naomi Skwarna, The Globe and Mail of Canada

“Feldman’s expansive tale offers an invigorating, timeless exploration of existential crises within a contemporary world.”
—Booklist

“Feldman is clever in his use of the Jonah story, and his novel is of the same strange and enigmatic quality as the original.”
—Kirkus

“Excellent.”
—Shelf Awareness

“Joshua Feldman offers a shrewd, humorous, and entertainingly modern twist on the Old Testament prophet. He’s written a bold and very funny book.”
—Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of National Book Award finalist MADELEINE IS SLEEPING

An epic tale of love, failure, and unexpected faith set in New York, Amsterdam, and Las Vegas. The modern-day Jonah at the center of Joshua Max Feldman’s brilliantly conceived retelling of the book of Jonah is a young Manhattan lawyer named Jonah Jacobstein. He’s a lucky man: healthy and handsome, with two beautiful women ready to spend the rest of their lives with him and an enormously successful career that gets more promising by the minute. He’s celebrating a deal that will surely make him partner when a bizarre, unexpected biblical vision at a party changes everything. Hard as he tries to forget what he saw, this disturbing sign is only the first of many Jonah will witness, and before long his life is unrecognizable. Though this perhaps divine intervention will be responsible for more than one irreversible loss in Jonah’s life, it will also cross his path with that of Judith Bulbrook, an intense, breathtakingly intelligent woman who’s no stranger to loss herself. As this funny and bold novel moves to Amsterdam and then Las Vegas, Feldman examines the way we live now while asking an age-old question: How do you know if you’re chosen?