Books: Emigrant World

A HOUSEFUL OF LOVE, by Marjorie Housepian (222 pp.; Random House; $3.50), is a succulent shish-kebab of a novel. Its thin skewer of a plot is strung with pungent morsels of Armenian-American characters. The time is 1929; the place, ten blocks south of Manhattan's Empire State Building, but the real locale is the world within a world of the emigrant. In the case of these emigrants from the Near East, it is also a world as self-contained as a harem, with a temperamental streak of reverse xenophobia ("Americans, Uncle Pousant had always maintained, were strictly cold soup"). Author Housepian, 34, herself...

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