Lelya Dorche and the Coney Island Cure
a novel by David Rothman
ISBN: 9781956440478 paperback $20.95
ISBN: 9781956440485 ebook $9.99
Releases July 18, 2023
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.
What people are saying about Lelya Dorche:
David Rothman’s Lelya Dorche and the Coney 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.
—John Talbird, author of The World Out There
“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 and 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.
—Claudia Zuluaga, author of Fort Starlight
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.
—Mike Hilbig, author of Judgment Day & Other White Lies
David Rothman teaches writing for the City University of New York. A novella, The Lower East Side Tenement Reclamation Association, won the Omnidawn 2018 fabulist fiction prize and was published in 2020. A short story, “Guided by Voices” won a fiction prize with Glimmer Train. Other short stories were published in such journals as Hybrido, The Prague Review, Newtown Literary, The Piltdown Review, among others. He is the drummer for the NYC-based band, The Edukators, and is a proud resident of Jackson Heights, Queens. https://davidrothmanconeyislandcure.com/