Of James Joyce’s three writerly weapons—silence, exile, cunning—only number two can I truly be said to have obtained, and then only by accident. At the age of eighteen I hadn’t intended to escape the South, but that’s what I ended up doing. Fleeing from the good son that I was, and from a small stifling place where everyone knew me better than I knew myself, or thought they did.

Thirty-five years later, my husband and I bought a flat in an old house in my hometown of Savannah. I was back. But the foothold I’d gotten in the past turned out to be from a more remote time than I’d expected.

Liberty Street is where our townhouse is located, and also the name of my new book. It’s a house that came with a story: the rise and fall of a Southern Jewish family and a ghost story whose long-dead characters still haunt the present. Liberty Street chronicles my journey to understand the Solomon Cohen family and the way their lives intersected with their enslaved workers, Savannah’s Jewish community, and their Christian neighbors.  I became interested in the way we talk about the Civil War, its origins and aftermath. What do we remember? Or choose to forget?  I came to know the denizens of Liberty Street 150 years before I moved there, and to understand my own story as a Jew, a Southerner, and an American.

“Friedman’s dismantling of myths becomes a thrilling mystery, a fearless reimagining, and a fresh historical portrait that seems to live and breathe. Scrupulous research and shimmering prose make for a fascinating read—I could not put it down. And neither will you.”

– Andrew Sean Greer, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Less

“Friedman’s dismantling of myths becomes a thrilling mystery, a fearless reimagining, and a fresh historical portrait that seems to live and breathe. Scrupulous research and shimmering prose make for a fascinating read—I could not put it down. And neither will you.”

– Andrew Sean Greer, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Less

Events, Readings & Appearances

  • Liberty Street Book Launch Party

    April 27, 2024  4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
    Bird & Beckett Books & Records, 653 Chenery St, San Francisco, CA 94131, USA

    See more details

  • Book Talk at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience

    May 9, 2024  6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, 818 Howard Ave, New Orleans, LA 70113, USA

    See more details

  • San Francisco Jewish Community Library Book Talk

    September 29, 2024  3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
    Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA

    See more details

Photo of Author, Jason K Friedman


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