Books

Masada, The Novel

Alice Hoffman channels the panoramic history of the fortress through the first-person narrative voices of four women.

12/27/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

Masada: the very name of the towering mountain fortress overlooking the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea conjures images at once historic, mythic, and symbolic. King Herod built it between 37 and 31 B.C.E. as a royal refuge, and decorated it with splendiferous mosaics. But it is best known as the final refuge of 960 Jewish zealots who, in 73 C.E., committed suicide en masse, rather than succumb to a massacre by besieging Roman soldiers who were part of the army that had already quashed the Jewish rebellion and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem.

Hoffman's research for her latest novel, set at Masada during the Jewish rebellion against the Romans, went far beyond Josephus'

Survival Instincts

In ‘A Train in Winter,’ Caroline Moorehead explores the little-known story of French women in the Resistance, and what happened when the non-Jews were sent to Auschwitz.

11/22/2011
Staff Writer

In January 1942, French policemen began a special mission, in collaboration with Nazi officials, to arrest the local Resistance. On their list were dozens of women. They included Germaine Pican, a mother of two, who carried messages between communists in Paris and Rouen; Mai Politzer, a midwife, who dyed her hair black in disguise to type letters for the underground press; and Marie-Claude Vaillant-Coutrier, a photojournalist who wrote articles for a clandestine journal.

A Train in Winter.

Eco Wades Into ‘The Protocols’ Conspiracy

Acclaimed Italian novelist defends his new book from attacks back home.

11/08/2011
Staff Writer

That “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the notorious anti-Semitic tract about a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, still has currency in parts of the world today was no deterrent for Umberto Eco. If there was anyone who could get away with a novel about the forged document’s creation, it was Eco. A towering member of Italy’s intellectual elite, he is a man as famed for his works on philosophy as he is for his best-selling novels. 

Though Eco’s novel has won mostly glowing reviews.

The Wizardry Of Amos Oz

In his latest meticulously crafted novel, Israel’s most famous living writer evokes a profound existential unease.

11/02/2011
Staff Writer

In Amos Oz’s new novel, or more accurately novel-in-short-stories, the sense of dread, of profound existential unease, is unmistakable. No character in Oz’s fictional Israeli village, Tel Ilan, where all the stories in “Scenes from Village Life” are set, is happy. No one is even remotely content with his lot.

Amos Oz

Casablanca Confidential

Joseph Braude drew on his Iraqi Jewish heritage and Arabic expertise to explore the workings of Moroccan policework.

11/01/2011
Staff Writer

A native of Providence, R.I., a son of Arabic and Lithuanian culture, Joseph Braude grew up in two worlds — his Baghdad-born mother’s tales of a childhood in Iraq and his Lithuanian-born grandfather’s Midrash lessons. There were the kasha varnishkes and qar’yie (an Iraqi vegetable dish) at Shabbat meals, and both Sephardic-style and Ashkenazic-style charoset on Passover.

The Arabic part stuck.

Joseph Braude, left, sharing a traditional meal with a friend in Morocco during his time working on “The Honored Dead,” chronicl

The Bard Of Brookline Has Her Moment

At 75, short story master Edith Pearlman is finally being recognized.

10/25/2011
Staff Writer

Recognition was never something Edith Pearlman asked for, but she can no longer ignore it.  This month, the 75-year-old Jewish writer was named a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction for her latest collection of short stories, “Binocular Vision.” And while Pearlman isn’t exactly dodging the limelight, she’s not going out of her way to bask in it, either.

After years as a writer, Edith Pearlman this month she was named a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction.

Egyptian Girlhood Interrupted?

In ‘Arrogant Years,’ Lucette Lagnado explores her and her mother’s different, and at times disappointing, paths.

09/20/2011
Jewish Week Book Critic

Lucette Lagnado’s mother Edith grew up in a humble stone house in an alleyway in Cairo’s main Jewish neighborhood in the 1920s and ‘30s. The strikingly beautiful Edith was known as the Belle of the Alleyway. Late every afternoon, Edith and her mother Alexandra, who had been abandoned by her husband, would sit on their balcony, drinking Turkish coffee, enjoying the breeze of the Sahara, and then perhaps take a stroll, arm-in-arm.

Lucette Lagnado's book "Arrogant Years."

‘Exodus’ And The Americanization Of Israel’s Founding

Maya Zack recreates a 1930s Berlin living room, complete with portents of doom.

09/06/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

An entire generation of American Jews — and Americans generally — were riveted by the 1958 best-selling novel, “Exodus,” and by the blockbuster movie two years later. Mining the “Wild West” genre, Leon Uris’ “Exodus” sold more than seven million copies in the United States, and was the underground “bible” for Soviet Jews.

Leon Uris painted an inspirational -- but far from balanced -- picture of Israel’s fight for independence.

‘Exodus’ And The Americanization Of Israel’s Founding

A new book explores the impact of Leon Uris’ 1958 bestseller — but ignores many of its inaccuracies and omissions.

08/31/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

An entire generation of American Jews — and Americans generally — were riveted by the 1958 best-selling novel, “Exodus,” and by the blockbuster movie two years later. Mining the “Wild West” genre, Leon Uris’ “Exodus” sold more than seven million copies in the United States, and was the underground “bible” for Soviet Jews.

The cover of M.M. Silver's "Our Exodus."

The Architecture Of Post-9/11 Life

A Jewish author, a Muslim protagonist and questions of identity in the Ground Zero-centered ‘The Submission.’

08/16/2011
Staff Writer

 There is a scene in “The Submission,” Amy Waldman’s new and much-discussed post-9/11 novel, where the Muslim-American architect who wins a Sept. 11 memorial competition confronts the competition’s chair, Paul Rubin, a Jewish tycoon not unlike Michael Bloomberg.

Amy Waldman’s debut novel.
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