The Hebrew Tutor of Bel Air

A novel by Allan Appel

July 1, 2009 • 5.5 x 8.5 • 224 pages • 978-1-56689-224-7

A full-throttle joyride on the highway of love, adolescence, and enlightenment.

Set in 1963 Los Angeles—after the Cuban Missile Crisis, but before JFK’s assassination—a bewildered young tutor is hired to prepare a stubborn Bel Air heiress for a bat mitzvah she doesn’t want and finds himself in a strange new world where everything but her cooperation is for sale. The two teenagers may not be learning Hebrew, but through the miracle of motorcycles and the epiphanies of the road, this unlikely couple might learn to shape their own destinies. And—for a few momentous hours—become a latter-day Bonnie and Clyde searching for a Reverse Jewish Nose Job in the City of Angels. Poignant and hilarious, this is an unforgettable story of lost innocence and found passion.

About the Author

Born in Chicago in 1946 and raised in Los Angeles, Allan Appel is a novelist, poet, and playwright whose books include Club Revelation, High Holiday Sutra, winner of a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award, and The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His writing has appeared in the National Jewish Monthly, the Progressive, and National Lampoon, and his plays have been produced in New York, Chicago, New Haven, and Provincetown. He has published a total of six novels, a biography, two collections of poetry, a book on botany, and A Portable Apocalypse, a handy anthology of erudite and humorous quotations about the end of the world.

Allan Appel holds degrees in writing and comparative literature from Columbia University and City University of New York, and he attended the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Most recently he has worked at the Jewish Museum and taught English at the Trinity School in New York City. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, where in 2003 he was awarded a fellowship in fiction from the State of Connecticut Commission on the Arts.


“Appel plays devil’s advocate, wryly prodding readers to ponder the validity of borrowing from other religions to fill in the perceived gaps in one’s own.” New York Times Book Review

“Another of [Appel’s] humorous takes on religion and spirituality . . . rendered . . . with heartbreaking intimacy.” Publishers Weekly

“This is an unabashed joyride of a novel, at turns hilarious and bittersweet. It’s a wholly original take on adolescence with a wild Jewish Lolita at its warm heart, a creature at once a thing of the spirit and the irresistible flesh. Pure exhilaration.” —Steve Stern

“Like Philip Roth, Allan Appel has an eye and ear for the ridiculousness of our desires and our pride.” —Stewart O’Nan