The ‘Stuff’ Of Memoir

Judy Batalion’s book moves between order and disorder.

01/12/2016 - 12:09
Culture Editor

Judy Batalion’s mother had been an artist, a published poet who followed Leonard Cohen around Greece. When readers encounter her in her daughter’s fine memoir “White Walls: A Memoir About Motherhood, Daughterhood and the Mess In Between” (New American Library), she appears to be a shadow of that earlier self, surrounded in her Montreal home by piles of unreturned library books, thousands of videocassettes, stale danish and towers of rotting cans of tuna: Every surface is piled high with stuff, all precariously close to an avalanche.

It took years for Batalion to connect her mother’s and grandmother’s hoarding back to their experience of the Holocaust.

A Bygone Gotham

Two new memoirs evoke an earlier New York.

12/30/2015 - 08:56
Culture Editor

Looking back over this year in New York City, with a new Whitney Museum, a new sculpture that shouts OY or YO, depending on what side of the East River you’re on, a new World Trade Center observatory back in use and a much-discussed new novel set here called “City on Fire,” I’m still drawn to an older New York, to pockets of time that are no more.

Morris Dickstein, chronicles his intellectual awakening.

These Archie Comics Are Serious

Archie Rand’s ‘The 613’ is a graphic interpretation of the Torah’s commandments.

12/22/2015 - 15:30
Culture Editor

Conversation with painter Archie Rand is multilayered and goes in varied directions, but often swings back to the Jews and Judaism.  He’s not a religious man, nor a biblical scholar, but his interests in Jewish texts run deep. Over his distinguished and highly recognized career, Rand has worked to create a Jewish iconography, often combining words and images in vibrant, daring paintings.

“I swiped the images, mostly from EC Comics. A very Jewish source,” Rand says.

New/Old Fiction, Times Two

The tales of Ben Nadler and Joshua Halberstam are both modern and timeless.

12/07/2015 - 19:00
Culture Editor

Ben Nadler’s New York City is layered with stories. Some stories have no borders, and characters shift easily from one urban tale into another; some stories are written as they are being lived while others are mythic.

“The Sea Beach Line” is filled with stories drawn from Jewish texts, both real and imagined. Nadler cites Kafka and I.B. Singer

Killers Of Jews Or Saviors of Jews?

New study by YU history professor sheds fresh light on Poland’s wartime anti-Nazi Resistance movement.

11/02/2015 - 19:00
Staff Writer

A third-generation American Jew who grew up in California, Joshua Zimmerman was raised with an atypical perspective about Poland. Most Jews in this country whose parents or grandparents immigrated from Poland as survivors or refugees of the Holocaust heard mostly horror stories about anti-Semitic Poles.

YU professor Joshua Zimmerman’s book on Poland’s underground fighters during World War II. Steve Lipman/JW

NY Artist Archie Rand Takes On Torah’s 613 Commandments

11/02/2015 - 19:00

A new book by a trailblazing artist raises an old question: Is there such a thing as truly Jewish art? And its corollary: If so, would anyone buy it?

Archie Rand, an artist who has a book coming out with a painting for each of the 613 Jewish commandments. JTA

‘Train’ Follows Its Own Track

Teens take center stage in this riveting Holocaust novel by Danny M. Cohen.

10/25/2015 - 20:00

Courtesy of Danny M. Cohen

The Age Of Aging Wisely

10/20/2015 - 20:00

In a season in which 73-year-old Erica Jong has published “Fear of Dying,” 89-year-old Dick Van Dyke is launching “Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging,” and 76-year-old Lily Tomlin is starring in the film “Grandma,” the topic of aging is newly visible.

Rabbi Rachel Cowan is co-author of a book that tells how to age gracefully and thoughtfully.

First Ex-Chasidic Gay Memoir Defies Niche

Publishers didn't know what shelf to put it on: Jewish or gay?

10/12/2015 - 20:00
Staff Writer

The latest ex-chasidic memoir adds a rainbow twist to an emerging literary genre.

Leah Lax’s "Uncovered: How I Left Hasidic Life and Finally Came Home." Courtesy of She Writes Press

Alexandria Lost, And Found

Nearly 40 years after Yitzhak Gormezano Goren’s novel ‘Alexandrian Summer’ was published in Israel, its English edition arrives.

09/23/2015 - 20:00
Culture Editor

When the Egyptian-born writer Yitzhak Gormezano Goren began thinking of writing a novel in Israel in the 1970s, he considered subjects like Jerusalem, the kibbutz, the Holocaust and Tel Aviv, the kinds of themes Israeli writers dealt with. But he wasn’t that drawn to Jerusalem, hadn’t spent time on a kibbutz, didn’t have experience of the Holocaust, and while he loved Tel Aviv, he didn’t feel it was his subject, that it would have soul. While studying in New York City in 1975 and at a distance from the Middle East, he realized his story was the Alexandria of his youth, a world that was no more. 

Yitzhak Gormezano Goren’s novel 'Alexandrian Summer.'
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