The Summer Of The Chevra Kadisha Novel

08/04/2015 - 20:00

As a literary device, the chevra kadisha, or burial society, has little precedent.

The words mean, literally, holy society. The chevra kadisha is the group of people that performs, among other duties, the mitzvah of tahara. Members of the group wash and purify the body of the deceased according to prescribed ritual, and then dress the body in burial shrouds — garments that have neither zippers nor pockets, as nothing of material value can be taken from this world.

 Fiction by Michelle Brafman and Diana Bletter explores burial societies.

A Novel Of The Middle East: Bombing, Love And A Banana Split

“I don’t know what it was. It might have been a head, or perhaps a hand or foot, it went by so fast, but following it, as if pulling a wire, came the explosion, and instantaneously the window I was sitting beside shattered.” From the first sentence of Michael Lavigne’s “The Wanting” (Schocken), you are gripped by a tension that is sustained throughout the novel.

A Passage To Guatemala

David Unger’s tale of dislocation, ‘The Price of Escape,’ follows his father’s trajectory from Nazi Germany to the Central American country.
05/30/2011 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Readers of literary fiction in America have coveted Latin American writers for years. Jorge Luis Borges and Roberto Bolaño are even household names here. But when was the last time you heard about a great Guatemalan author? And more specifically, one who is Jewish?

Enter David Unger, author of the dark and riveting new novel, “The Price of Escape,” which follows a Jewish refugee who flees Nazi Germany and ends up in Guatemala. The story was inspired by the strange journey Unger’s own father.

The Price of Escape Book Cover.

Tracking Stereotypes: The Jews Of ‘Misrule’

03/14/2011 - 20:00

It has been nominated for the PEN-Faulkner award and achieved the kind of fame authors dream of. But back before Jaimy Gordon’s racetrack novel “Lord of Misrule” had even won the National Book Award as the longshot or dark horse — pick your racing metaphor — people recommended it to me because of its subject matter.

Jaimy Gordon’s racetrack-based novel offers unique look at protagonist’s Jewish roots.

Violence and Israel: Yael Hedaya Responds

When HBO's third season of "In Treatment" premiered this week, one story line was that it lost its main writer, the Israeli novelist Yael Hedaya.  (To fans of the show, don't worry: Jhumpa Lahiri is her replacement.) The HBO version was really an adaptation, nearly verbatim, of the Israeli hit series Bi'Tipul, where Hedaya wrote some of the best shows.  Now in her mid-40s and still living in Israel, Hedaya is releasing her third novel in English translation this month, "Eden.&

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