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Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial (2011)

by Janet Malcolm

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1617135,579 (3.71)20
Malcolm's riveting new book tells the story of a murder trial in the insular Bukharan-Jewish community of Forest Hills, Queens, that captured national attention.

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English (6)  Spanish (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Ella no lo pudo haber hecho, pero tenía que haberlo hecho. Malcolm destripa así el caso de un asesinato en la comunidad judía bujarí de Queens, en el que un hombre, odontólogo es presuntamente asesinado por su ex mujer, una joven doctora. En realidad, y como casi siempre, Janet Malcolm de lo que habla es del mal periodismo, incluyéndose a ella en el lote, y en este caso, también de las trampas de los sistemas judiciales, en este caso del norteamericano.
No es una novela, es la crónica de este juicio que Malcolm escribió para The New Yorker. Suelta los datos, describe lo que ve, y remata la jugada con finos análisis que nunca juzgan a los protagonistas del asunto, sino a todo el sistema que sostiene la sociedad que habitamos.
( )
  Orellana_Souto | Jul 27, 2021 |
Absolutely fantastic peek into a salacious trial that captivated New York City. Malcolm reports on the case and her own experience covering it, with a bit of philosophy around the family as a social unit and the law in society. Highly recommended. ( )
  sparemethecensor | Feb 22, 2016 |
...she couldn't have done it and she must have done it.

Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial tells the story of the trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova for the murder of her ex-husband Daniel Malakov, a trial that hit the newspapers because the couple were part of a small community of Bukharan Jews. Borukhova and Malakov had an acrimonious divorce, in which the point of contention was custody of their daughter. While Malakov was fine with Borukhova keeping primary custody, the law guardian hired to represent the child disliked Borukhova and was able to get primary custody awarded to Malakov. Borukhova grew increasingly desperate and is alleged to have hired a hit man to kill her husband.

Janet Malcolm covered the subsequent court case for The New Yorker, along the way speaking to as many of the people involved as she could. The culture of the Bukharan Jews, Russian-speaking immigrants who are considered outsiders even among the predominantly Jewish population of Forest Hills in Queens. Malcolm is curious and interested about their lives and they respond to her interest by speaking with her. While the book doesn't answer the question of why or if she did it, it does look at why a woman would behave in such an off-putting way as to alienate the people who make decisions about custody and how this whole mess has affected their daughter. ( )
3 vote RidgewayGirl | May 30, 2015 |
I was really excited for this book. And it started promising. But it was written in such a way as to be kind of confusing to me. It kept jumping around to different people and scenes were out of order and some sentences were structured so that they were difficult for me to understand. I like the idea, but it was a difficult read. ( )
  emily.ann | Oct 27, 2011 |
Masoltuv Borukhova is a beautiful Russian immigrant doctor practicing medicine in Forest Hills. Daniel Malakov is her divorced husband. In a custody battle that neither party wanted, Daniel is given custody of their daughter Michelle. Shortly thereafter he is murdered and Marina (Masoltuv) is arrested for the crime along with her cousin Malleyev and tried in the Forest Hills courthouse. The reporter does an excellent job of relating the tragedy in a straightforward but compelling manner. ( )
  phoenixcomet | Jul 14, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
he "human tendency" to be seduced by coherent narratives and charismatic narrators, including ourselves, is the screw that turns in almost all of Janet Malcolm's work, from her early writing on psychoanalysis to 2007's Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice. Malcolm has made a career out of exposing our impulse towards self-deception, particularly when practised by those of us in pursuit of "pure" representations of reality. What she reveals is the reliance of factual accounts – whether produced by reporters, biographers, diarists or criminals mounting their own defences – on the conventions of fiction. The moment when we affirm the objectivity and accuracy of our vision is the moment we reveal our blind spots, to which no person or profession is immune.
“Iphigenia in Forest Hills” casts, from its first pages, a genuine spell — the kind of spell to which Ms. Malcolm’s admirers (and I am one) have become addicted. It is possible to remark that this is not among her very best books and yet observe that it delivers an extraordinary amount of pleasure.
Malcolm persuasively argues that Borukhova did not receive a fair trial, and that the fatally flawed children’s-guardian system harmed Michelle far more than it helped her (her “Dickensian ordeal” included a stint in foster care). True, the book is imperfect—but by design. Every decision or omission that gives it its wobbliness or rough-hewn quality has been made to answer some larger philosophical question about reportage. If the book ends (as most of Malcolm’s books do) too abruptly, it’s because she’s won’t abide the artificiality of narrative neatness.
added by danielx | editBook Forum, Parul Sehgal (Apr 12, 2011)
added by danielx | editNew York Times, Emily Bazelon (Apr 12, 2011)
She has chosen to write about the trial of someone who is guilty, not to investigate some terrible miscarriage of justice (though Borukhova, represented by the celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, is currently appealing against her sentence). Nevertheless, it does its work. The unease grows, like a shadow, with the result that her essay's after-effect is entirely disproportionate to its brevity. The disquiet stays with you. It's there in the pit of your stomach.
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And this is nothing different than any other murder case I've tried. You seem to think that this is so extraordinary. It's not. Somebody's life was taken, somebody's arrested, they're indicted, they're tried and they're convicted. That's all this is.

--Judge Robert Hanophy, April 21, 2009
Everything is ambiguous in life except in court.

-- prospective juror (not selected) in voir dire, January 29, 2009
To John Dunn
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At around three in the afternoon on March 3, 2009, in the fifth week of the trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova -- a thirty-five-year-old physician accused of murdering her husband -- the judge turned to Borukhova's attorney, Stephen Scaring, and asked a pro forma question. "Do you have anything else, Mr. Scaring?"
...she couldn't have done it and she must have done it.
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Malcolm's riveting new book tells the story of a murder trial in the insular Bukharan-Jewish community of Forest Hills, Queens, that captured national attention.

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