Author Gabriella Goliger’s speaks about A Girl Unwrapped

Published: January 3rd 2011
in Culture » Books

A Girl Unwrapped
Gabriella Goliger

The parents in Girl Unwrapped are also very different from my own. The mother, Lisa, is almost a polar opposite to my own mother. The father, Julius, has more in common with my dad, but I would hope that if they were to meet on the street they wouldn't recognize each other. The main characters in Song of Ascent were also fictional but I drew on my real-life parents quite a bit to create them. It was time to allow those dear people, now departed, to rest in peace.

AB: Do you believe a Jewish audience will have a deeper understanding of this novel due to its characters and themes?


GG: I suppose a Jewish audience would feel especially connected to some of the Jewish references and themes, a lesbian audience would connect strongly to the lesbian story and a Jewish lesbian would identify most of all. Yet having said that, I believe the characters are real enough to appeal to a wide readership. People read fiction precisely to learn about others, to encounter other souls, to find what is different and the same among all of us. In short, you don't have to be Jewish to read and enjoy a Jewish story.

AB: What did you learn from writing this novel?


GG: First, I learned how to write a novel. I had no idea where I was going when I started and went down many wrong paths. I learned patience. It took me more than six years. I learned self-acceptance because I had to face deep frustration and despair when I felt I couldn't get it right. Because the material was close to me, I had indeed to work hard to gain the distance that allows one to be truly creative. I guess I also learned something of the answer to my opening question: what is the connection between being Jewish and lesbian? To me, now, the answer resides in that Torah commandment that bids us to be kind to the stranger in our midst because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. I find this the most inspiring line of Torah. In today's parlance it means that we must open ourselves to the "other" and "otherness" despite our deeply rooted need for tribal belonging. Our humanity lies in this delicate dance with individualism, loyalty to a group and an embrace of the wider world.


AB: What do you hope others learn from reading it?


GG: I never put that question to myself and it doesn't seem the right question. I don't wish for others to learn anything specific from my book. Rather, I wish for the reader to experience the story in a way that is meaningful for her or him. I'm delighted when people tell me they identified with this or that in the book, or it brought back certain memories, or it made them think. I wish for them to have at least a little of that intense pleasure that reading gives to me: the sense of adventure, of my horizons expanding, of the deepening of my inner world.


AB: When you aren't writing, what are you passionate about?


GG: Nature. I love to read about it. I love to feel immersed in it, which happens most reliably during a solitary walk in the country.


Also, I'm passionate about the enlightened Israel that was envisioned by some of its founders and is striven for by many of its citizens. I've been an active supporter of Peace Now/Shalom Achshav for about 20 years.


Finally, I'm passionate about the people who are closest to me: my partner, my family, my friends. 




A Girl Unwrapped was published by Arsenal Pulp Press and is available nationwide. Please visit Goliger’s website at

Related articles: (Jewish, Israel, Author, Montreal, Lesbian, Holocaust)

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