Phyllis Skoy’s first novel, What Survives, takes place in Turkey. Mark Aronson is an American Jew who is a professor of art history in Istanbul. He meets the protagonist of the novel, Adalet, and a relationship grows between them. Adalet is a young Turkish Muslim. Mark's father’s side of the family is Sephardic which is why Mark is so at home in Turkey. He is raised in the Sephardic culture even though he grows up in New York City and his mother is Ashkenazi. At this time, Istanbul is a flourishing international city with inhabitants from all over the world.
What Survives is one of a three-part series. This book takes place in the recent present. The book Ms. Skoy is currently writing focuses on the coming of the Republic of Turkey and the character of Fatma, from the first book. In the third novel, Ms. Skoy hopes to write about the terrible events in Turkey and the Erdogan government through the same characters as appear in her first novel.
In her recently published memoir, Myopia, we learn about the life of the novelist.
The year is 1949. Jeannette sits on the edge of her hospital bed dressed and ready to go home with her newborn baby. She collapses onto the floor. Her brain is bleeding. Jeannette’s husband, Nathan, is in the army, a brand new ophthalmologist. Their eight-year-old daughter lies in the hospital with a burst appendix.
The year is 1905. Nathan is born into a shtetl in Bershad, Russia. He doesn’t know he will come into life during the worst Jewish pogroms in Russia’s history, a bleak world filled with fear of starvation and death from hatred.
The time is the Great Depression. Jeannette and Nathan meet and marry in Philadelphia. He is from poverty and she is from wealth. He is a struggling student and she has graduated from the University of Pennsylvania at the top of her class in mathematics. The marriage takes place without her family’s approval.
Ms. Skoy was the baby born in 1949. She will come into this world of past and present, of horses hooves and bleeding brains and burst appendix. How do love and laughter flourish and grow in this endangered garden? How is inter-generational fear transmitted and survived? What does trauma do to blur our vision? This is Myopia, a memoir, a few of the tales she can tell from her life.
PHYLLIS M. SKOY lives with her husband and Australian cattle dog in Placitas, New Mexico where she settled after living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for many years. She currently maintains a small private practice in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Albuquerque.