Brooklyn Bookbeat: Brooklynite turns family folklore to novel
For Brooklyn writer Amy Shearn, what began as a snippet of family lore has now turned into her second novel. On sale Tuesday, April 2, “The Mermaid of Brooklyn” is a fascinating book that Shearn created by melding her great grandmother’s real-life story with an element of fairy tale magic.
Inspired by her great grandmother’s fate – which was uncannily determined by a pair of shoes – Shearn developed a protagonist with the same name, Jenny Lipkin. Like the original Jenny Lipkin, Shearn’s character is a mother struggling to support her family with an absent husband. The fictional Jenny, formerly a magazine editor who is now a stay-at-home mother living in a Park Slope walk-up, is married to an obsessive gambler who disappears one evening. Already overwhelmed with the stress of raising children in the city, Jenny now becomes desperate.
She finds strength, however, through the most surprising and mystical of characters – a mermaid. Based on the Russian mermaid folklore known as the Rusalka, Shearn’s mermaid provides her protagonist with the companionship she needs to make it through this tough time.
To celebrate the release of “The Mermaid of Brooklyn,” Shearn will appear at powerHouse on 8th in South Slope on Tuesday, April 2 and 7 p.m., and at Lark Café in Ditmas Park on Sunday, April 14 at 6 p.m. Brooklyn Eagle checked in with the author, who shares with us the details of her great grandmother’s inspirational story. She offers her take on “the culture of Brooklyn parenting,” and offers a preview of her next project.