Edition: Paperback
Sale price$13.95


Published by Counterpoint (hardcover) 2002, Berkley Penguin (paperback) 2004

Language: English

Format: Paperback / Hardcover

Number of pages: 292

ISBN: 1-58243-217-1 (hardcover), 0-425-19828-6 (paperback)

Dimensions: 5.18 x 0.79 x 8.02 inches


Secondhand Smoke is Patty Friedmann's favorite of all her novels and the winner of most awards. It is the story of mean, racist Jerusha Bailey, a white woman who lives in New Orleans and learns many lessons when a fire leaves her homeless.

A gorgeous tragicomic novel of working-class New Orleans that shares a deeply universal tale of blunt truth and hard-earned redemption.

Zib and Wilson Bailey--Jerusha’s two grown kids--think the thick cloud of cigarette smoke enveloping their mother is what probably killed their father. Certainly, the toxicity of Jerusha Bailey’s dark and cynical attitudes has driven her children far from home. Wilson has escaped to Chicago, married, converted to Judaism, become a professor of Organic Evolution, all of which earns his mother’s scorn. She doesn’t think much of her daughter either: Zib, almost forty, unmarried and directionless, has made it only as far as the Florida Panhandle, where she’s the assistant manager at the local Winn-Dixie and must fight off her boss’s affections. So obliviously isolated is Jerusha, only one person is left in her sights: Dustin Puglia, chubby, wise, and fearless, a ten-year-old living next door with a poisonous mother of his own. The two become attached in this hilarious story of responsibility and blame.



New Orleanian Patty Friedmann is the author of about a dozen darkly funny literary novels. In addition to Secondhand Smoke, her works include hot-selling Too Jewish, Eleanor Rushing, her recent collection titled Where Do They All Come From? and two YA novels that came out after Hurricane Katrina.



"Her best yet."  Times-Picayune

"You love to hate her [protagonist Jerusha]...But Friedmann pulls off an amazing feat by making readers love her by the end of the book." - Iowa City Press Citizen

"Rarely is so engaging a book carried by such an unsympathetic character." -  The News and Observer, Raleigh, NC

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