Books

Very Short Fiction From A Ukranian Emigre

The funny and bittersweet stories of Ukrainian emigre writer and miniaturist Marina Rubin.

01/07/2014
Culture Editor
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Marina Rubin’s very short stories are shorter than most articles in this newspaper.

But she would never leave a sentence dangling like that. Each one of the 74 stories in “Stealing Cherries” (Manic D Press) unfolds into 14 to 18 lines — no paragraph breaks, few capital letters — that form a block of text on the page (the last word always ends at the right margin). Her writing is sparse and precise, yet also lush, with long sentences packed full of life, drama and artistry.

Marina Rubin is another Jewish writer from the former Soviet Union making her mark on the world of literature.

Very, Very Short Fiction, Mining An Immigrant's Experience

The funny and sad stories of Ukrainian emigre writer and miniaturist Marina Rubin.

01/02/2014
Culture Editor
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Marina Rubin’s very short stories are shorter than most articles in this newspaper.

Literary miniaturist Marina Rubin. Photo courtesy Manic D Press

A Long, Strange Trip Toward Judaism

Joshua Safran’s coming-of-age memoir suggests a dark side to the ’60s-era vision of utopia.

12/10/2013
Culture Editor
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Joshua Safran was born into a world of communes, covens and radical politics, but was too young to understand what the revolution was all about. When he was 4, his single mother took off for places far less conventional, leaving the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco for the desert and hills. They lived in an old bus, a decommissioned ice-cream truck, a teepee and abandoned shacks with no running water, hitchhiking thousands of miles, ever in search of utopia.

Haight-Ashbury and beyond: Safran chronicles a life on the road with his single mother.

Over Four Years, A Professor Walks New York City

A CUNY sociologist wore out nine pairs of shoes and found stories on nearly every block of NYC. Many of them are Jewish.

10/22/2013
Jewish Week Book Critic
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The great urban activist Jane Jacobs wrote about the sidewalk ballet of New York’s streets, how the streetscapes of this great city are backdrops to an unscripted dance between neighbors and passersby. These improvisations unfold on every block, every day, never to be repeated.

Helmreich’s book unearths people like Lubavitcher Tuvia Tatik, who works as a dean of discipline. Sandee Brawarsky

Studying 'Orthodox Jewish English'

HUC professor documents the role of language in taking on new, observant lifestyle.

10/22/2013
Staff Writer
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Princeton — Over a kosher Chinese meal at a Lunch & Learn program in Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life, a visiting academic offered some chosen words about language — “Jewish language,” that is — one recent afternoon.

Sarah Benor, who teaches at HUC in Los Angeles, documents in “Becoming Frum” how newly Orthodox men and women act, and speak.

Frank Conversation On Disability And Inclusion

10/16/2013
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Three prominent change-makers will take part in a discussion entitled “Understanding Difference: A Frank Conversation About Disability and Inclusion” at Cong. Rodeph Sholom on Monday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

The Novel As Archive

Dara Horn delves into the nature of remembrance, and how it ‘affects our choices for the future,’ in ‘A Guide for the Perplexed.’

10/16/2013
Jewish Week Book Critic
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Dara Horn’s latest novel is propelled forward by ideas about preserving the past, over three different eras. “A Guide for the Perplexed” (Norton) is set in present-day California and Egypt, late-19th-century Cambridge and Cairo, and further back, in 12th-century Cairo. With great skill and originality, she layers stories of a software developer who invents a program called “Genizah” for recording a life, Solomon Schechter’s discovery of the Cairo Genizah, and the life of Moses Maimonides, or the Rambam.

Horn of plenty: Her new book travels from Cairo to California.

Still One Nation?

In tracing the postwar pathways of seven soldiers who reunited Jerusalem in ’67, Yossi Klein Halevi lays bare the fault lines that continue to define Israel.

09/24/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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American Jews aged 60 and over likely recall precisely where they were the morning of June 5, 1967. Following a month of daily Arab threats of annihilation, Israel launched a successful preemptive strike against Egypt. After Jordan rejected Israeli appeals to refrain from hostilities, Israel captured the West Bank and reunited Jerusalem. American Jewish ties with Israel in turn intensified greatly. The month-long experience of rhetorical echoes of the Holocaust preceding the war followed by Israel’s demonstrated capacity to defend itself evoked Jewish pride and cemented bonds of peoplehood.

Halevi’s book is a work of non-fiction that reads like a riveting novel, with a fascinating cast of characters.

Novel Way To Tell A Survivor’s Story

Korean-American teen writes and draws graphic novel about the Shoah.

09/10/2013
Staff Writer
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Washington — Christopher Huh knew about the Holocaust when his seventh-grade English teacher began a two-week unit about the subject last year. But not much.

Christopher Huh’s graphic novel about the Holocaust includes such topics as Jewish life in pre-war Europe.
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