Early on in Amy Bloom’s Away, protagonist Lillian Leyb says, “Az me muz, ken men,” a Yiddish phrase that translates into, “When one must, one can.” It’s an apt motto for Lillian, a Jewess who emigrated to America after her family was killed during a Russian pogrom. Lillian, pragmatic to the point of heartlessness, does what she must to make her way in America, until one day a cousin collapses on her doorstep bringing news of Sophie, the daughter Lillian had thought was dead. Upon learning that Sophie may still be alive and in Siberia, Lillian embarks on an improbable, epic trek across the continental United States, through Canada and Alaska to the Bering Strait, where she intends to cross into Siberia to reunite with her child. Bloom, a novelist and professor of creative writing at Yale, has written a daring, powerful protagonist who serves to prove that chutzpah can’t be taught. Bloom discusses and signs copies of her work at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919.

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