(Rawle Jackman)

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 Wayne Hoffman. 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, Hard, 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.

Hoffman, the managing editor of Tablet Magazine, will accept 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.]

This podcast was originally published on Aug. 17, 2011.