I grew up in the small Orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee, where I felt both what was grounding about being part of a such an enclosed world as well as what was stifling. This became the subject of m first novel, The Ladies Auxiliary, which I started writing when I no longer living in Memphis. Being away from home enabled me to look back and it and explore my own ambivalence about belonging.
My second novel, The Outside World, is also set in an Orthodox Jewish world, and is about two families whose children marry each other. In that book I wanted to write about the conflict between tradition and modernity, and also about marriage and dreams and belief and doubt.
My third novel Visible City began when I moved from New York City to a Boston suburb. I was so homesick for a city I had come to live, and longed for the anonymous intimacy that comes from living among so many strangers. Visible City is about a woman who watches her neighbors from her windows and becomes entangled in their lives. It's a book about watching people we don't know but about the difficulty of seeing people we do know as well. It's also about a lost stained glass window and about motherhood and the loneliness of marriage.
And now, after these three novels, I've written a memoir called The Book of Separation. It originated with an essay I wrote in the New York Times about leaving my marriage and my Orthodox Jewish faith. After the piece came out I was flooded with emails from people telling me their own stories of loss and change and it inspired me to write this book. The Book of Separation is about wrestling with doubt, about trying to be the person I was expected to be and about decided to change, when change felt as terrifying as anything I could do. I wrote about my experience of leaving a world where so much was scripted for me and trying to forge a new way of life that felt more genuine to me.
Tova Mirvis is the author of books: The Ladies Auxiliary, The Outside World, The Book of Separation, Visible City, ILY, Prayers for the Living, Life in the Present Tense: Reflections on Family and Faith, Sh'ma: The Many Faces of Translation, You Don't Look Like Your Picture, Settled and Unsettled (Sh'ma Journal: Independent Thinking on Contemporary Judaism Book 44)