Hoffman, the managing editor of Tablet Magazine, the prestigious Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award at the annual American Library Association conference today. To celebrate his accomplishment, we re-present his conversation with Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry. They discuss Sweet Like Sugar, how his two careers—novelist and editor—influence one another, and his own experience finding acceptance as a gay Jew. [Running time: 16:54.]
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According to the Torah, homosexuality is forbidden. That injunction is what makes Rabbi Zuckerman, a frail old man, recoil when he learns that a new friend, a twentysomething named Benji Steiner, is gay. These characters and their relationship anchor a new novel, Sweet Like Sugar, by . It’s a story that takes on identity, personal secrets, and the search for connection. The novel is something of a departure for Hoffman, whose debut, , took a much more explicit look at gay life, describing the personal and political engagement of a group of gay men in the late 1990s in Greenwich Village.
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I Thought Sweet Like Sugar was the best book I've read in a long time. I loved the dialog and Benji, the central Character's, struggle with his Jewish faith. His struggle is something I connected with in a strong way. I think anyone raised in a religious home - even a modestly religious home - be it Jewish, Christian, Moslem - struggle with those teachings as you get older. I found myself in tears in many places as Benji experiences some surprising and unexpected realities from the people around him. It's a wonderful book.