Disobedience by Naomi Alderman
What is “dissed” in Disobedience is obedience— but not completely. Naomi Alderman’s prize-winning first novel (Orange Prize for Fiction) challenges rigid religious authority by having its heroine assert her individual freedom, but then softens that assertion by having her realize how obedience to tradition can restore peace of mind within the frenzied modern West. Ronit Krushka is the lesbian daughter of a venerated London Rav, who returns from America to attend his funeral in the Orthodox Hendon neighborhood. For her, no dichotomies are absolute. Ronit is gay, but is having an affair with a married American Christian man; she is a free, high-powered corporate functionary, but she feels more free observing Shabbat in the semi-shtetl that is Hendon. Her girlhood lesbian lover, Esti, is married to Dovid, the Rav’s rabbinic heir apparent, but both husband and wife implicitly accept Esti’s divergent sexuality.