Summer 2013

Rosenberg returns with new novel

Rosenberg returns with new novel
Jonathan Cohen
Liz Rosenberg's latest novel, The Laws of Gravity, is set on Long Island.

Liz Rosenberg’s new novel centers on a legal battle between two cousins, but it’s no mere courtroom drama. The Laws of Gravity, published in May, also features an international adoption, a deep friendship between two women, a romantic rabbi and quite a bit of comedy.

Rosenberg, PhD ’97, and a Binghamton University professor of English, says The Laws of Gravity focuses on a young mother dying of cancer and her cousin, who decides not to give her the umbilical cord blood he has banked for his children after first agreeing to do so. She takes him to court in a desperate attempt at a life-saving cure. The story, set on Long Island, features a rich cast of supporting characters.

One thing Rosenberg takes a long look at in the novel is friendship, both the dying woman’s close relationship with her best friend as well as the awkward first steps of a friendship between the judge and his neighbor. “I don’t think enough has been written about the power of friendship between women,” she says.

That emphasis on female friendship doesn’t mean that all the women in the book are saints, however. There’s an eccentric aunt, a shark lawyer and a loudmouthed sister-in-law. “It’s not a black-and-white world,” Rosenberg says. “Clearly, one of the things I’m thinking about in the book is motherhood. So I wanted several kinds of mothers. I needed a non-nurturing mother. I wanted a traditional mother. I wanted a super-nurturing mother, and also a new mother who’s just finding her way. You use a novel as a fractured lens to look at the same issue from many sides. If I were to present women as uniformly loving and loyal friends, that would be doing a disservice to what we are as half of the human race.”

The Laws of Gravity is Rosenberg’s second novel for adults, but it’s her first being published by online giant Amazon.

“I guess I made the riskier choice,” she says, noting she had two comparable, competing offers: one from Amazon and another from a traditional publisher. “I decided to go with the new kid in town. I had become frustrated about the need to promote yourself so much. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Amazon has this enormous outreach. They seem to have the machinery in place. And they have allowed an incredible number of writers to be published who would not be published otherwise.”