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Schmear and far: ‘Bagels and Salsa’ is a bi-cultural love story set in New York and New Mexico

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She’s got a saucy love story!

Just like the narrator of her new novel “Bagels & Salsa,” author Lara Reznik left Long Island to attend college in New Mexico in the 1970s, and wound up finding the man of her dreams. Both character and writer married a Hispanic man from the “Land of Enchantment,” but that is where the similarities end, said the author, who now lives in Texas.

“I write about my life, about what I know,” said Reznik, who is also the author of “The Girl from Long Guyland” and “The M&M Boys.” “The actual story is not really autobiographical, but the people in it are based on people in my life, so let’s say it’s 50 percent autobiogra­phical.”

“Bagels & Salsa,” a finalist in the Texas Writers League 2017 fiction contest, is the unpredictably quirky tale of the love story between Jewish Long Island sociologist Laila Levin and Latino surgeon Eduardo Quintana, who could not be more different. It begins with a backdrop of New York City in 1977, when the murderous “Son of Sam” stalked the streets of the city preying on young women, and winds through a variety of subplots, from an unlikely beginning on an auditorium stage in a Bronx public high school, through a torrid buildup in Manhattan, and a visit to Quintara’s hometown, which is the complete opposite of New York — the small town of Espanola, New Mexico.

Along the way, numerous new characters — a stuttering stalker; a cocaine-addicted ex-girlfriend; meddling mothers, sympathetic fathers, supportive sisters, horseback-riding cousins and a loyal dog named Brooklyn, to name a few — come into and out of the lives of these two lovers, who break up, make up, break up, and make up again, until their bond proves stronger than their obvious cultural differences.

Reznik hopes that the cross-cultural romance at the heart of her story inspires readers to look beyond their own societal boundaries.

“I never realized there are still so many racists in this country,” said Reznik. “I would like readers [of ‘Bagels & Salsa’] to think about embracing religious, ethnic and cultural differences.”

“Bagels and Salsa” is now available in bookstores and at Amazon.com.

Reach James Harney at (718) 260-2529 or e-mail him at jharney@cnglocal.com.
Updated 1:34 am, July 10, 2018
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