The new novel by David Rothman
In April 2020, at the height of the pandemic in New York City, Andrew, the assistant director of a funeral home one mile from Elmhurst Hospital, the “epicenter of the epicenter,” meets a legendary Coney Island witch doctor (Lelya Dorche), who makes him an offer that could better his chances of keeping his COVID-positive elderly parents and his severely asthmatic 13-year-old son, Miro, off the ever-expanding list of virus mortalities. To keep up his end of the bargain, Andrew will have to find his way to Bulgaria (no small task considering that there’s a ban on passenger flights to Europe) to secure 10 liters of a rare Macedonian pine sap, a key ingredient of Lelya Dorche’s proven remedy.
See what readers are saying about Lelya Dorche & the Coney Island Cure!
I honestly loved this book
Leyla Dorche and the Coney Island Cure by David Rothman is a drama novel that follows a father’s attempts to find a cure for his COVID-infected teenage son. It’s April 2020, and COVID-19 has created mass panic and havoc all over New York City. Andrew Gruber has witnessed first-hand the deaths caused by the pandemic during his work as the assistant director of the Wahi Funeral Home. When his thirteen-year-old asthmatic son is diagnosed with the disease, Andrew has no choice but to knock on the door of Leyla Dorche, a Bulgarian healer in Coney Island. Upon Leyla’s insistence, he sets off on a risky chartered plane with a drunk pilot to Bulgaria to bring home ten liters of rare Macedonian pine sap. Andrew soon learns how life is full of surprises and that nothing goes according to plan.
I honestly loved this book. With a captivating story and some truly compelling characters, David Rothman brilliantly captures the sheer panic and chaos in New York City at the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Rothman keeps the plot moving at a brisk pace, including a few surprising twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing as to what’s going to happen next. But it’s the characters who demand your attention. Every character feels believable, with real emotions and agency that makes sense of their actions. Despite the circumstances, I found the scenes featuring Misha and Andrew together absolutely hilarious. Overall, Leyla Dorche and the Coney Island Cure is one of the best novels I’ve read in relation to the recent pandemic. Highly recommended.
Reviews | James Kinsley
Reviews | Mike Hilbig
Rothman treads a fine line between reality and fantasticality when he portrays a mental health break, as many people’s mental health problems were exacerbated during COVID and by grief, too. Andrew, the narrator, is semi-unreliable, and yet, he is also smart, sensitive, and capable in many ways. I also like the way it shows how people in desperate situations will search out whatever they think might help, whether there is much evidence of that fact or not. It feels like a book rooted in parental love and the gap between helping and hurting and being overbearing in the process.
Reviews | Claudia Zuluaga
“Sometimes life puts you in the darkest corner,” and what corner could be darker than a vicious virus which (at that point) had no cure or even treatment? LELYA DORCHE & THE CONEY ISLAND CURE is bright, and moving, illustrating how will, magical thinking, and the power of love can overcome the insurmountable. Guided by his sister’s ghost, warm, pragmatic Andrew risks it all to save his family. With sharp prose, an endearing cast of characters, and the haunting background of Coney Island, David Rothman’s novel reiterates the biggest lesson that came with the global pandemic: Love is absolutely everything.
Reviews | John Talbird
David Rothman’s LELYA DORCHE & THE CONYEY ISLAND CURE is one of the first COVID-19 novels and it is an adventure, a family drama, and very funny. This is the New York of real people: denizens of Queens and Brooklyn, not Manhattan day traders, not Brooklyn hipsters, but the immigrants, the Jews, the Muslims, and Hindus. Rothman has imagined a melting pot of a novel with a Roma witchdoctor, a Filipino nurse, a Jewish funeral home director, and an alcoholic Ukrainian smuggler in a race against time to save lives outside the official realms of government and capitalism. Like the Coney Island Cyclone that makes an appearance in the early pages of the book, once you get on this ride, you wouldn’t want to get off even if you could.