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An awkward boy grapples with God and girls at his bar mitzvah. A con artist cantor is taught a lesson by his student. A Polish immigrant to Savannah faces the loss of her cow. A Jewish assistant curator struggles to understand a 500-year-old Italian painter’s body of work, until his boyfriend makes an accidental discovery that challenges decades of art criticism.
Fire Year, winner of the 2012 Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, is Jason K. Friedman’s first collection. “Blue,” the first story, won the 2010 Moment Magazine-Karma Foundation Short Fiction Prize, and “All the World’s a Field” was among the five finalists that year. Those stories and most of the others in this collection are set in a southern Jewish community from the 1920s to the present day. Characters in these seven comic tales find a response to their worldly urges in transcendent religious experiences.