Jill Eisenstadt’s New Novel Revisits the Rockaways

Photo Courtesy of Little, Brown

The Rockaways are part of an important network of diverse habitats, and serve the ever-important role of adding a protective buffer for Brooklyn’s coastal areas.


They also happen to be the setting for Brooklyn resident Jill Eisenstadt’s newest book, Swell. The book includes some of the characters of her debut novel, From Rockaway, which secured her place among the legendary “literary brat pack” of the 1980s.

In Swell, Sue and Dan Glassman, along with their two daughters and third baby on the way, are desperate to move out of their cramped Tribeca apartment. Sue even agrees to give into her father-in- law’s demand that he convert to Judaism to help out with the purchase. As her oldest daughter puts it, she “sold her soul for a sea view and a few extra bathrooms”. They end up moving into a potentially haunted house dubbed “the murder house” in the Rockaways.

On the weekend of Sue’s conversion party, the house’s previous owner Rose arrives at their doorstep after escaping her assisted living facility. She seems intent on moving back in. Before long, the situation in the house begins to swell out of control. Swell is at once hilarious and insightful as it navigates family, relationships, and the perils of living in an uncertain world.

Jill Eisenstadt by Beowulf Sheehan, from Little, Brown

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