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for Books and Writers
by Bamber Gascoigne

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Jay Nussbaum (b. 1960)


Jay Nussbaum is a writer, lawyer and teacher. A MONK JUMPED OVER A WALL (2007) is his second novel, his first being BLUE ROAD TO ATLANTIS (Warner Books, 2002). From 1997 to 2000, he taught Eastern philosophy and martial arts at Cornell University. He lives in New York with his wife and children.

"Water is life. When it is warm, I am warm. When it is cool, I am cool. When it is clear, I am blessed with the vision of a seagull." (from Blue Road to Atlantis)

Blue Road to Atlantis explored in the tradition of Jonathan Livingston Seagull the importance of discovering your place in the world. The narrator is a remora, "Fishmael", whose fate is linked to that of a huge marlin, the Old Fish. Through their lives in the deep, the reader is introduced in the way of Bushido, the way of the samurai.

A Monk Jumped Over a Wall is captivating, elegant and humorous tale that examines what happens when you try. JJ Spencer, the protagonist, works in a large Manhattan law firm. With his first annual review coming up soon, JJ is confident his keen work for the firm would be praised all the way to the bank.

But after a sudden surge of heart during a chance encounter at a diner, JJ discovers how swiftly no good deed goes unpunished: the aftermath of his generous impulse snowballs and before he knows it, JJ Spencer has lost his job, gotten a black eye, and been arrested for drunk driving.

His perfect life seemingly over, JJ decides he must dedicate himself to helping the very people who unwittingly lost him everything. It is through that journey—and the surprising battles therein—that a new life is allowed to rise from the ashes of the old, and JJ Spencer begins to emerge as the man he always should have been.

This is the story of leaving the comfortable life you know for the unpredictable future that another path might b ring: in contemporary New York, a young attorney must decide whether scaling the walls of his shallow existence in search of something more profound will lead to his dreams, or to his ruin.

Selected works:

  • Blue Road to Atlantis, 2002
  • A Monk Jumped Over a Wall, 2007

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