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Eugene Nadelman: A Tale of the 1980s in Verse

Eugene Nadelman: A Tale of the 1980s in Verse

Michael Weingrad

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135-page paperback / 5" x 8.5" / ISBN 9781589881938
Publication date 9/17/24 (available for pre-order)

"Move over, Onegin—we’ve a new Eugene for the ages."
—Liel Leibovitz, editor at large, Tablet Magazine

“[A] wistful and emotionally resonant novel that finds true poetry in teenage life."
Foreword Reviews

Full of humor, pathos, and pop cultural references, Eugene Nadelman is a tale of young love and American manners in the era of Ronald Reagan and MTV—written in the witty sonnet form of Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.

It’s 1982, and teenaged Eugene attends his cousin’s bar mitzvah in suburban Philadelphia. There he meets a kindred spirit in the savvy, sensitive Abigail. But when Eugene’s best friend also becomes smitten with Abby, a tragic rivalry ensues and, just as in the Pushkin poem, one character kills another in a duel. (Well, in a Dungeons & Dragons game, in this case.) 

Eugene and Abby’s romance deepens against a backdrop of '80s music, fashion, and VHS rentals—with serious world events like AIDS and the Cold War hovering overhead. But when Eugene leaves for sleepaway camp and Abby for Europe, temptations abound, and one question becomes paramount: can their love survive a summer separation?

“Move over, Onegin—we’ve a new Eugene for the ages. In Michael Weingrad’s wildly charming and profound telling, young Eugene Nadelman’s adolescence in 1980s Philadelphia unfolds in iambic tetrameter, with each crush and clash and heartache feeling as epic as they do for the young and the hopeful. If you’ve ever spun the bottle or leered furtively at someone across the dancefloor, you’ll find yourself transformed by Weingrad’s wit, wonder, and heart, and, like young Eugene himself, grow wiser.”
—Liel Leibovitz, editor at large, Tablet Magazine

Eugene Nadelman is the book that Lord Byron would have written if he had been an American Jewish teenager in the 1980s. With effortlessly brilliant rhymes, perfect recall for period details, and bittersweet blend of nostalgia and satire, Michael Weingrad offers us literary pleasures of a kind that most contemporary poets have forgotten—if they ever knew it existed.”
—Adam Kirsch, author of The Discarded Life

"Smart, funny, and full of charm, Eugene Nadelman is a perfect coupling of form and content. Simultaneously a glorious evocation of a specific time, place, and atmosphere, and a timeless love story worthy of Pushkin’s Eugene."
—Maya Arad, author of The Hebrew Teacher

"Michael Weingrad's Eugene Nadelman is many things: a time capsule of cultural artifacts from the early 1980s, a history of growing up Jewish in the city of Philadelphia, and a poetic appreciation of the vicissitudes of young love. But it is also a rumination on memory itself, the ways in which we revisit the past through people, places, events, ephemera. Reflecting on the forgotten wonders of the pre-internet age, Weingrad teaches us the crucial art of looking back, one sonnet at a time."
—David Amadio, author of Rug Man

"This admirably idiosyncratic, frequently funny, 1980s-nostalgic twist on Eugene Onegin is an impudent experiment that pays off."
—James Kennedy, author of Bride of the Tornado

“Onrushing beauty, technical virtuosity, wit, insight, revelry of language all the way through—this is what you have to look forward to from Eugene Nadelman. The story of this Philly Jewish ’80s kid—“not the sort for teenage strife, / He dresses, eats a bowl of Life”—is a story of Everyboy. Weingrad is a matchmaker who brings unsuspecting soulmate words together: “The plaintive piano chords of Journey / Intensify our hero’s yearny / Anticipation and despair, / His open arms enfolding air.” To read this work is to be wowed by a bravura performance and deeply touched in equal measure.” 
—Jessica Hornik, author of A Door on the River


Michael Weingrad
is the author of American Hebrew Literature: Writing Jewish National Identity in the United States and the editor and translator of Letters to America: Selected Poems of Reuven Ben-Yosef. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, attending McCall and Masterman public schools. His essays and reviews, on topics ranging from Israeli fantasy and science fiction to the Jews of Baghdad, have appeared in the Jewish Review of Books, Mosaic, and a range of other magazines and scholarly journals. Weingrad has been a Fulbright Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Montague Burton Fellow in Jewish Studies at the University of Leeds, and a Harry Starr Fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard. Today, he is a professor of Jewish Studies and lives in Portland, Oregon.

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