Books

Excerpt- From the Devil to the King

A special book excerpt
From the Devil to the King,
by A.J. Thurso

Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities: Michael Lesher, McFarland & Company, 287 pps. $45.

03/03/2015
Staff Writer

The disgrace of sexual abusers (nearly entirely men) who identify themselves as Orthodox Jews is a well-known subject, covered extensively in recent decades in the Jewish and general media.

"Sexual Abuse, Shonda and Concealment in Orthodox Jewish Communities:" Michael Lesher, McFarland & Company, 287 pps. $45.

Shul Politics, The Novel

Raphael Silver’s posthumously published novel, set in a Cleveland synagogue, dissects congregational life.

02/24/2015
Culture Editor

Around the time he was 80, Raphael D. Silver sat down to write his first novel. A few years earlier, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, his first climb. He’s a man who, after much success as a real estate developer, began producing and directing films.

The author, son of the prominent Zionist leader Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver. Courtesy of Author House

From Menace To Muse To Mitzvah

What happened when Allen Kurzweil tracked down his childhood tormentor.

02/17/2015
Culture Editor

Allen Kurzweil was 5 when his father died. He doesn’t remember much about him. But that hasn’t stopped him from missing him for all of his life, perhaps his clearest memory being a hospital scene a few months before his father’s death. Robert Kurzweil, 54, was lying down and he squeezed his young son’s hand. Allen can’t recall his words or voice, but he remembers the sensation. Almost 50 years later, he remembers the face of the watch on his father’s wrist more vividly than the face of its owner. 

The author, then and now. KURZWEIL CREDIT: ©Ferrante Ferranti YOUNG KURZWEIL CREDIT: Edith Kurzweil

Roger Cohen’s Back Pages

The Times columnist traces the meandering arc of his family, from Lithuania to South Africa to England.

01/20/2015
Culture Editor

Roger Cohen’s maternal great-grandfather was born in Siauliai, Lithuania, in 1877, and left for South Africa in 1896. Arriving penniless, Isaac Michel had no formal education but could add and subtract, and eventually built a large retail empire. He died almost five decades later, with a lavish estate in Johannesburg that included a sprawling home, an arboretum and a turquoise Cadillac in the curving driveway, the chauffeur at his call.

“For my family, the past was gone,” says Cohen. “It took me quite a long time to decide I wanted to explore it.”  Rebecca Ring

Steve Israel’s Terror Plot (Just Kidding)

The L.I. Democrat’s debut novel (featuring one Morris Feldstein of Great Neck) grew out of his experiences in the House Armed Services Committee.

01/06/2015
Culture Editor

‘Tsuris ahead,” Steve Israel opens his debut novel, “The Global War on Morris” (Simon & Schuster). I’m not sure how many of his congressional colleagues in Washington would know the Yiddish word for troubles, but the meaning quickly becomes clear.

Israel: “Major threats” exist, “but there are moments in government that are funny.”  Katrina Hajagos

The Overlooked List

Ten books from 2014 that didn’t get the attention they deserved.

12/31/2014
Culture Editor

At this time of looking back and looking ahead, we’d like to point to some titles published over this past year that have been overlooked and are worthy of attention. Many relate to exile and memory, and one novel even speaks of a black market in memory.

Read it. Via lbi.org

Modiano’s Paris

Three novellas by the Nobel Prize winner, all shadowed with loss.

12/23/2014
Culture Editor

Patrick Modiano’s newly translated novellas are mysteries of remembering and forgetting. The fictional narrators, who resemble the author, search for truth about an elusive past, always linked to the Nazi occupation of Paris. 

“Suspended Sentences,” a trilogy by Nobel Prize laureate Patrick Modiano, is now available in English.

When Basketball Was Jewish

Dolph Schayes and the NBA during a more innocent time.

12/16/2014
Staff Writer

In the early days of professional basketball in this country, the sport was largely a city game, played by upwardly mobile athletes from working-class families — often with immigrant roots — who used their shooting and defensive skills as their ticket to a better life.

Dolph Schayes: An NBA Hall of Farmer with Bronx roots, he settled in Syracuse after starring for its basketball team.  Wikimedia

A Writer Of A Certain Age (And Temperament)

Brian Morton’s latest literary creation is a feisty New York character through and through.

10/21/2014
Culture Editor

What distinguishes a New York novel are not just the streetscapes, but also the pull this great city has on its characters. The eponymous Florence Gordon is one of those fictional New Yorkers who believe that “a life that took place elsewhere couldn’t truly be called life.”

Novelist Brian Morton’s latest work is a kind of generational tug of war.  David Kumin
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