The Escape Artist


Set in the brothels and gangster dens of Jewish Buenos Aires at the beginning of the twentieth century, The Escape Artist catapults us into the exotic lives of Sofia Teitelbaum and Hankus Lubarsky. Sofia, a nice Jewish girl from Poland, is wooed from her family by Tutsik Goldenberg who claims to be a wealthy Argentine diamond merchant in search of a wife. In a horrifying turnaround, he delivers her to his sister’s brother in Buenos Aires. Hankus, also a nice Jewish girl from Poland, escaped from the pogroms that killed her family by passing as a man. An illusionist to the core, she’s created the persona of a handsome and mysterious magician and escape artist. In Hankus, Tutsik spots a different kind of prospect. Managing Hankus could be his ticket to freedom from his sister’s machinations. But his juggling is the act that brings Sofia and Hankus together. Their attempts to walk the tightrope of love, freedom, and independence are quickly put to the test.


2013 (reprint edition), Bywater Books


German Editions Available!

Read A conversation with the American author Judith Katz about historical traces, strong female figures and her novel on dotbook’s blog.




“Katz lives up to her first novel’s potential in this moving, funny, wholly original picaresque about a nice Jewish girl . . . The pasts and common destiny of two remarkable women — related with perfect timing in Sofia’s convincing Yiddish-tinged English — come together beautifully in this nicely crafted, emotionally satisfying, and well-researched historical fiction.” 

Publishers Weekly (Read full review)

“Written with the bent notes and dizzying rhythms of a Klezmer tune, The Escape Artist is a breathtaking, delightful tale, full of spills, chills, and lush language. Its historical sleight of hand and brave imagination keep all the balls in the air.”

— Jewish Book Council (Read full review)

“The Escape Artist is a gorgeous book full of lush writing, fascinating characters, and a narrator who might just make you question everything.”

The Lesbian Review (Read full review)

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