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.’
10/15/2013 - 20:00
Jewish Week Book Critic

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.
09/23/2013 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

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.
09/09/2013 - 20:00
Staff Writer

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.

In Search Of The ‘Still Small Voice’

Several new prayer books and a book about prayer aim to deepen the experience.
09/02/2013 - 20:00
Jewish Week Book Critic

Is prayer a recitation of wish lists? Or regrets? A cry for help? What about gratitude? How does one achieve transcendence? Feel God’s presence? What about doubt? Can you pray if you don’t believe? How does prayer affect the supplicant?

Michael Haruni’s “Nehalel beShabbat."

Sherman’s March Through Pop Culture

The first biography of the ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah’ comic positions him as a bridge between Jewish and American life.
07/29/2013 - 20:00
Jewish Week Book Critic

When my niece got married recently, the first dance song played at her wedding reception was “Harvey and Sheila,” Allan Sherman’s parody of “Hava Nagilah.” We all danced in intertwining circles, as the band played “Harvey and Sheila/Moved to West L.A./They bought a house one day/Financed by FHA…”

“Overweight Sensation” is a shout-out to Allan Sherman.

Two Sides Of Beauty

In her new memoir, Patricia Volk navigates between two charismatic women — her mother and Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.
07/15/2013 - 20:00
Jewish Week Book Critic

As she watched her mother apply her make-up, Patricia Volk saw several views of her at once, through the three-way mirror. Audrey Morgen Volk, wearing a green velvet robe that matched the green drapes in her room, methodically applied layers of cream and powder and mascara. Patty knew that her mother was beautiful — this was noted frequently by the doormen of their Upper West Side building, cab drivers, the butcher, camp counselors and relatives — but only she knew that the make-up was “a portrait of her face on top of her face,” and that the face underneath was sheer beauty too.

Family and fashion: “Schiap gave me an alternative way to be,” Volk writes.  Stephen Deutsch

‘Hidden Encyclical’ No Longer Hidden

The unpublished Vatican document that lambasted Nazis’ anti-Semitism, and the U.S. priest who played a key role in writing it.
06/10/2013 - 20:00
Staff Writer

Bethesda, Md. — Did Pope Pius XII, the leader of the Catholic Church during World War II and the subsequent decade, suppress a landmark Vatican document that his predecessor, Pius XI, had commissioned, a document that would have unambiguously criticized racism and anti-Semitism? And did that document — an encyclical, in Vatican parlance — actually exist?

Peter Eisner describes the attempt of Pius XI to issue a document condemning racism and anti-Semitism.Courtesy of William Morrow

Bookmarks- new information about authors and publishers

A Promotional Feature:

The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic

Edited by Mary L. Zamore

Special Book Excerpt, Letty Cotton Pgrebin


How To Be A Friend To A Friend Who's Sick

Author, Letty Cotton Pogrebin

How History Shapes A Family

Alexander Stille excavates his parents’ past in ‘The Force of Things: A Marriage in War and Peace.’
04/29/2013 - 20:00
Jewish Week Book Critic

When Alexander Stille’s mother died in 1993, she left few papers behind — just some letters, photographs and remnants of the lists she maintained to organize her life. Everything was in its proper place; her bills were paid and her will was signed.

As Stille did research for “The Force of Things,” he came to see his relatives as figures from historical archives.
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