Amy Gottlieb

author of The Beautiful Possible

Amy Gottlieb is the author of The Beautiful Possible. Amy is a graduate of Clark University and the University of Chicago. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Other Voices, Lilith, Puerto del Sol, Zeek, Storyscape, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poetry, and elsewhere. She has received a Literary Fellowship and Residency from the Bronx Council on the Arts, and an Arts Fellowship from the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. Amy lives with her family on the edge of the Hudson River in New York City. The Beautiful Possible is her first novel.

Spanning seventy years and several continents—from a refugee’s shattered dreams in 1938 Berlin, to a discontented American couple in the 1950s, to a young woman’s life in modern-day Jerusalem—this epic, enthralling novel tells the braided love story of three unforgettable characters. In 1946, Walter Westhaus, a German Jew who spent the war years at Tagore’s ashram in India, arrives at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, where he meets Sol Kerem, a promising rabbinical student. A brilliant nonbeliever, Walter is the perfect foil for Sol’s spiritual questions—and their extraordinary connection is too wonderful not to share with Sol’s free-spirited fiancée Rosalie. Soon Walter and Rosalie are exchanging notes, sketches, and secrets, and begin a transcendent love affair in his attic room, a temple of dusty tomes and whispered poetry. Months later they shatter their impossible bond, retreating to opposite sides of the country—Walter to pursue an academic career in Berkeley and Rosalie and Sol to lead a congregation in suburban New York. A chance meeting years later reconnects Walter, Sol, and Rosalie—catching three hearts and minds in a complex web of desire, heartbreak, and redemption. With extraordinary empathy and virtuosic skill, The Beautiful Possible considers the hidden boundaries of marriage and faith, and the mysterious ways we negotiate our desires.




“People always want to know what a book is about. That's a hard question to answer when it comes to The Beautiful Possible. I've never read anything quite like this lyrical and infinitely wise novel. There's a line in the book that reads, Inside every story lies the hidden kernel of an infinite one. That's what this book is about. If I had to say more, I would add that this novel is about a woman in love with two men, and the way that she sustains both relationships over a lifetime, not without significant cost. It's about faith and love and lust and mysticism and poetry and the eroticism of spices. It's about the things we give our children, but prompts us to think about what we should give them, and what they, in turn, should give us. Mostly, though, it's about how a book can be a wonder. If books could shimmer, this one would.”

Elizabeth Berg, author of The Dream Lover

The Beautiful Possible is a deeply felt and evocative novel that draws on history, memory, all the senses, and Amy Gottlieb’s own considerable conjuring skills. Alive with characters and unafraid to examine ambiguous emotional complexities, this is a moving debut.”

Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings


“Poetic and deeply moving, The Beautiful Possible is an artfully woven story of love and loss, of spirituality and desire, of the stories that make us who we are and the stories we tell ourselves. Gottlieb’s debut is beautifully written and captivating.”

Jillian Cantor, author of Margot and The Hours Count

“Gottlieb’s first novel carries readers along with its artful weaving together of Talmudic concepts and complex human emotions.”


“This enchanting novel is a ‘braid’ of romance, passion, betrayal, of marriage, family, and loss, of three characters whose love is incomplete in the secrets each conceal, of the beautiful that is possible, and the wrong that makes it possible. It’s also a delightful and brilliant commentary—a midrash on the Song of Songs and Tagore and Whitman, on Hasidic wisdom and Hindu wisdom, on the mundane and the sublime and how we live between them. Read it once for its story, again for its wisdom, and one more time for its poetry and truth.”

Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Jew in the Lotus and The History of Last Night’s Dream

The Beautiful Possible is impossibly beautiful, also luminous, lyrical, and unforgettable. With this stunning first novel, Amy Gottlieb announces herself as a formidable literary talent and a bright star in the firmament of 21st century Jewish writers.”

Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate


“What makes The Beautiful Possible  so astonishing is not simply its elegant prose and erudition or the compelling love story at its core with its moments of joy and heartbreak, but the novel’s deep sense of wisdom that comes from the mysterious between places of the heart and soul; a wisdom that in Gottlieb’s hands is never insistent or boastful but a grand meditation on human and godly grace.”

Aryeh Lev Stollman, author of The Far Euphrates & The Illuminated Soul

“Amy Gottlieb’s characters pray that they 'will find a way to live between the dual cracks of uncertainty and truth.' Readers will delight in Gottlieb’s metaphors, which express the otherwise inexpressible. In The Beautiful Possible, Gottlieb’s characters careen precariously from love to love, strength to strength, weakness to weakness. This is a lovely book, whose dual themes of faith and passion braid together powerfully like the wicks of a candle whose flame marks the transition between the ordinary and the holy, the sacred and the profane.”

Nomi Eve, author of Henna House and The Family Orchard

“From the very first pages of this elegantly written novel, you will find yourself in a garden of secret passion and longing, doubt and faith, reason and mysticism. You won't want to leave this place of everyday astonishments. Amy Gottlieb's poetic prose is reminiscent of the novels of Chaim Potok and woven from the threads of women's wisdom. The Beautiful Possible is a story you will long remember.”

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, co-author of Jewish Stories of Love and Marriage: Folktales, Legends and Letters