Elana Dykewomon, author who explored lesbian life, dies at 72

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(“I figured if my name was Dykewomon,” she joked in an interview with J: The Jewish News of Northern California this year, “I would never be reviewed in the New York Times. Which was true.”

Her 1997 novel, “Beyond the Pale,” about Russian-Jewish lesbian immigrants who work in New York’s infamous Triangle shirt factory and survive its deadly fire to become trade unionists, won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction. In 2009, she released “Risk,” a novel about a struggling middle-aged lesbian who turns to gambling as an escape.

Elana Michelle Nachman was born in Manhattan on October 11, 1949, the oldest of three children born to Harvey and Rachel (Weisberger) Nachman. His father was a plaintiffs attorney who moved the family to Puerto Rico in 1958 to open a practice. His mother was a researcher for Life magazine and later a librarian in Puerto Rico.

They were a fiercely Zionist family. His father, who had been a navigator in the United States Air Force during World War II, volunteered as a pilot in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, his brother, Mr. Nachman, said. and his mother helped smuggle weapons into Israel.

Ms. Dykewomon maintained a strong sense of Jewish identity, even though she was non-religious as an adult. Regarding her name change, she once said, “If I had to do it over again, I might have chosen Dykestein or Dykeberg,” according to a Times of Israel obituary.

Even before she was a teenager, Elana “knew she was somehow ‘different,’ but the doctors told her she couldn’t be gay,” her brother said in an interview. Living in Puerto Rico since the age of 8, he added, she also felt “strongly removed from the Latin macho culture and sexual role-playing of women and men there”.

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