I’ve Got Questions for Jane Bernstein

The Face Tells the Secret by Jane Bernstein
  • What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date? 

The Face Tells the Secret is a novel published by Regal House Publishing in October 2019. Named a Best Book of 2020 by Hadassah Magazine.

  • In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about? 

The Face Tells the Secret is about a woman who knows absolutely nothing about her family history until her boyfriend arranges for a surprise visit from her estranged mother, who lives in Tel Aviv.  That visit is the start of a tumultuous journey, in which she first learns about a profoundly disabled sister who lives in a residential community in the Galilee and later begins to unearth disturbing long-held family secrets.

  • What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?

Upmarket fiction.

  • What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far? 

“Gorgeously written, and deeply moving, this is a book about the ways we are loved—and more importantly—the ways we let ourselves love.”—Caroline Leavitt

  • What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?] 

Oops.  I can’t answer this question.

  • Why this book? Why now?   

Suzanne Kamata wrote this: “Who should we care for?” asks Roxanne, the narrator of The Face Tells the Secret. “How much of our lives should we spend looking after others? When do we turn away to protect ourselves?” These are questions that many of us face, especially now, when so many women work outside the home and multi-generational families rarely live together.  

  • Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had? 

That’s an easy question! I’ve been a member of the Creative Writing Program at Carnegie Mellon University since 1991, where I get to share my passion for books and movies and nurture young writers.

  • What do you want readers to take away from the book? 

I hope readers enjoy The Face Tells the Secret and that the characters and themes resonate with them. 

  • What food and/or music do you associate with the book? 

Also a tough one.  I do reference the Police, singing Roxanne, and I guess I’d say falafel, since the book is mostly set in Tel Aviv.

  • What book(s) are you reading currently? 

I’m just about done with The Mersault Investigation, loved Apeirogon, by Colum McCann, and became a big Sally Rooney fan.

Jane Bernstein

Learn more about Jane at her website.

Your local bookseller can order The Face Tells the Secret.  The book can also be purchased online via Bookshop.org, a consortium that supports independent booksellers. Also available from Powells.com and Amazon.

Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.

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