Vox Tablet

A Novel’s Unlikely Friends

From the archive: A gay man and an Orthodox rabbi find connection in Wayne Hoffman’s novel Sweet Like Sugar

June 25, 2012
(Rawle Jackman)
(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.]

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

Vox Tablet is Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast, hosted by Sara Ivry and produced by Julie Subrin. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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