Noah Gordon, 95, Dies; American Novelist With an Audience Overseas

Noah Gordon, an American writer who was nearly unknown at dwelling however whose novels about historical past, medication and Jewish id remodeled him right into a literary luminary overseas, died on Monday at his dwelling in Dedham, Mass. He was 95.

His dying was confirmed by his spouse, Lorraine Gordon.

Mr. Gordon’s debut novel, “The Rabbi” (1965), which handled the title character’s marriage to a minister’s daughter, was lodged for 26 weeks on The New York Times’s best-seller record. But most of his subsequent eight books fared much less efficiently after they have been revealed domestically, though they’ve proliferated since as e-books.

“When I began, my market was America: You either made it in America or didn’t make it,” he instructed The Times in 1996. “Well, now your market is the world.”

Michael Gordon, his son and literary agent, stated in an e mail that Mr. Gordon’s books have bought some 25 million copies in 34 languages.

Mr. Gordon’s “The Physician” (1986) — the primary guide in a dynastic trilogy that started in Eleventh-century Persia, continued through the American Civil War with “Shaman” (1992) and ended with a contemporary lady physician coping with the morality of abortion in “Matters of Choice” (1996) — had an preliminary print run of solely 10,000 copies within the United States.

But it will definitely bought some 10 million copies, together with greater than six million in Germany, the place, within the Nineteen Nineties, six of Mr. Gordon’s novels have been on best-seller lists concurrently.

In 2013, “The Physician” was tailored right into a German movie, in English, starring Tom Payne, Stellan Skarsgard and Ben Kingsley. An award-winning musical primarily based on the guide is about to tour Spain.

The novel, primarily based on meticulous analysis, follows the odyssey of an Eleventh-century Scottish protagonist, Robert Jeremy Cole, who desires to check medication within the Middle East, the place medical colleges have been reputed to be extra superior than these in Western Europe. Since Christians have been barred from Islamic colleges, Cole disguises himself as a Jew.

The guide’s success, even overseas, was a fluke. Just earlier than the publication date, Mr. Gordon’s editor at Simon & Schuster left and his agent retired. But Karl H. Blessing, who labored for Droemer Knaur, a German writer, was captivated by the guide and invested closely in selling it.

“While Gordon has been published in 38 countries, Spain and Germany, where he is most popular, are two countries that grapple with a history of anti-Semitism,” Andrew Silverstein wrote in The Forward this yr. “While not all of Gordon’s eight books have Jewish themes, most do, and his Jewishness is well known, which may play a role in his popularity in these two countries.”

Mr. Gordon gained Spain’s Silver Basque Prize twice for best-selling guide, in 1992 and 1995. His novels have been additionally in style in Italy and Brazil.

His final novel, “The Winemaker,” a narrative of factions dueling for the Spanish throne on the finish of the nineteenth century, was revealed in 2012.

Mr. Gordon’s “Shaman” gained the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians as the perfect historic novel of 1991 and 1992. Peter Blauner praised it in The New York Times Book Review, writing that Mr. Gordon “throws in all the twists and turns readers expect in a historical drama, but he takes the corners with a measured sense of pace and irony.” It was a greatest vendor solely in Europe, nevertheless.

Noah Gordon was born on Nov. 11, 1926, in Worcester, Mass., to Robert Gordon, a pawnbroker who had immigrated from Russia, and Rose (Melnikoff) Gordon, a gross sales consultant.

He served within the Army throughout World War II, however the battle ended earlier than he was scheduled to be shipped to the Pacific. He enrolled in Boston University on the G.I. Bill, his mother and father hoping he would research to turn into a physician. But he lasted one semester in a pre-med course earlier than switching his main to journalism.

“Ever since childhood I had nursed two ambitions of my own,” Mr. Gordon wrote on his web site. “I wanted to be a newspaperman, and I yearned to write the kind of novels that made me love books.”

He earned a Bachelor of Science diploma in journalism in 1950, then remained on the college to earn a grasp’s in English and inventive writing the following yr.

Moving to New York City, he labored as an editor for Avon Publishing after which at an image journal named Focus.

He married Lorraine Seay, who was a pupil at Clark University after they met in Boston. In addition to her, he’s survived by their daughters, Lise Gordon (who labored with him on the screenplay for “The Physician”) and Jamie Beth Gordon; their son, Michael; and 4 grandchildren. A sister and brother died earlier than him.

After a number of years, the couple returned to Massachusetts, the place Mr. Gordon labored for The Worcester Telegram. He was then named the science editor of The Boston Herald after writing articles, on his personal initiative, about medical breakthroughs. He started engaged on “The Rabbi” in his spare time whereas modifying a medical journal when his agent stated a writer had agreed to a modest advance for “The Rabbi.”

He wrote his second novel, “The Death Committee,” about three younger medical doctors at a Boston hospital, whereas modifying one other publication, The Journal of Human Stress. (“The Death Committee” was additionally a Times greatest vendor, though simply briefly.) He gave up modifying in 1975 and started his third novel, “The Jerusalem Diamond.”

For years he wrote from a farmhouse within the western Massachusetts city of Ashfield, till transferring again to Boston in 1995.

“Each morning I go to my computer in anticipation of the emails I receive from readers in many countries,” Mr. Gordon wrote on his web site. “I am grateful to every reader, for enabling me to spend my life as a scribbler of tales.”

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