When the Angels Left the Old Country (Hardcover)
Stonewall Book Award Winner
Sydney Taylor Award Winner
Michael L. Printz Honor Book
National Jewish Book Award Finalist
AudioFile Earphones Award Winner
BEST OF THE YEAR
NPR · New York Public Library · Kirkus
For fans of “Good Omens”—a queer immigrant fairytale about individual purpose, the fluid nature of identity, and the power of love to change and endure.
Uriel the angel and Little Ash (short for Ashmedai) are the only two supernatural creatures in their shtetl (which is so tiny, it doesn't have a name other than Shtetl). The angel and the demon have been studying together for centuries, but pogroms and the search for a new life have drawn all the young people from their village to America. When one of those young emigrants goes missing, Uriel and Little Ash set off to find her.
Along the way the angel and demon encounter humans in need of their help, including Rose Cohen, whose best friend (and the love of her life) has abandoned her to marry a man, and Malke Shulman, whose father died mysteriously on his way to America. But there are obstacles ahead of them as difficult as what they’ve left behind. Medical exams (and demons) at Ellis Island. Corrupt officials, cruel mob bosses, murderers, poverty. The streets are far from paved with gold.
P R A I S E
★ “Powerfully moving. Broad in scope, the strong queer relationships at its core provide an unfaltering anchor.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
★ “Immersive…Propulsive. A mashup of historical fiction and magical realism, this will find a satisfied audience in fans of both.”
★ “Extraordinary….Absorbing. A sublime novel about the fantastical, freeing nature of love.”
—Foreword Reviews (starred)
★ “Gorgeous, fascinating, and fun. Deftly tackles questions of identity, good and evil, obligation, and the many forms love can take.”
★ “Terrific. Richly imagined and plotted, this inspired book has the timeless feeling of Jewish folklore.”
★ “Expansive queer tale that marries historical fiction with inventive world-building. Witty, cerebral storytelling.”
—Horn Book (starred)
★ "A must-buy for any collection, Lamb’s historical fiction novel brings soft queer joy to a compelling tale of immigrants and unions and Jewish folklore."
—School Library Journal (starred)
“Liars, lovers, grifters, a good angel and a wicked one—all held together with the bright red thread of unexpected romance, enduring friendship and America’s history. You don’t have to be Jewish to love Sacha Lamb—you only have to read.”
—New York Times Bestseller Amy Bloom
“I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH!!!! I read it in two days and then I spent the next two weeks thinking about it. Literally forgot to take my lunch break at work because I was busy thinking about it. This book is SO fun and funny and beautiful. Inherently, inextricably deeply queer-and-Jewish in a way that makes my brain buzz. I am obsessed.”
—Piera Varela, Porter Square Books
“I love this book more than I can say (but I’ll try!) I was delighted by the wry narrative voice of this book from the first paragraph. The author perfectly captures the voice of a Jewish folk tale within an impeccably researched early 20th century setting that includes Yiddish, striking factory workers, and revolutionary coffee houses. It gave me so many feelings about identity, love, and their obligations to the world, themselves, and each other. This story will forever have a place in my heart and in my canon of favorite books. I can’t wait to have it on my shelves!”
—Marianne Wald, East City Bookshop
“A beautiful story of an angel and demon set on helping an emigrant from their shtetl, and the fierce girl that joins them on the way... A must read for all ages—one filled to the brim with heart.”
—Mo Huffman, Changing Hands Bookstore
About the Author
Sacha Lamb is a 2018 Lambda Literary Fellow in young adult fiction, and graduated in Library and Information Science and History from Simmons University. Sacha lives in New England with a miniature dachshund mix named Anzu Bean. Their debut novel, When The Angels Left The Old Country, was named a Printz Honor Book, a Sydney Taylor Award winner and a Stonewall Book Award winner.
[STAR] “Steeped in Ashkenazi lore, custom, and faith, this beautifully written story deftly tackles questions of identity, good and evil, obligation, and the many forms love can take. Queerness and gender fluidity thread through both the human and supernatural characters, clearly depicted without feeling anachronistic. Gorgeous, fascinating, and fun.” —Kirkus (starred)
[STAR] “Extraordinary details flesh out this absorbing world… And love emerges in places where angels, demons, and defiant girls did not at first think to look. When the Angels Left the Old Country is a sublime novel about the fantastical, freeing nature of love. — Foreword Reviews (starred)
[STAR] ”Richly imagined and plotted, this inspired book has the timeless feeling of Jewish folklore, which is further enhanced by the presence of two magical protagonists, and not one but two dybbuks! In the end, of course, it’s the author who has performed the mitzvah by giving their readers this terrific debut novel.” —Booklist (starred)
[STAR] “Powerfully moving. Broad in scope, the strong queer relationships at its core provide an unfaltering anchor.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)
[STAR] “Immersive…Propulsive. A mashup of historical fiction and magical realism, this will find a satisfied audience in fans of both.”—BCCB (starred)
"When the Angels Left the Old Country is a phenomenal story that explores gender identity and sexual orientation while showcasing the power of community and the journey one must take to truly know themself." — Jewish Book Council
[STAR] “ Expansive queer tale that marries historical fiction with inventive world-building. Witty, cerebral storytelling.” —Horn Book (starred)
2022 Recommended Reading - Locus Magazine