Books

The Road Back To Haiti

New story in 'Haiti Noir' collection brings Mark Kurlansky back to the island nation.

01/19/2011
Staff Writer

Nearly all of the 18 short stories in the new "Haiti Noir" collection are written by Haitians. The book's editor, the prominent Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat, made an exception, however, for Mark Kurlansky.

A 62-year-old Jewish writer who lives in New York City, Kurlansky is well known for his best-selling histories of food - on salt, on cod, on oysters. But writers that know him well, like Danticat, are well aware of his longtime involvement with Haiti.

Mark Kurlansky

Funny Girls

Three Jewish women humorists bring light and lightness to the end of 2010.

12/28/2010
Jewish Week Book Critic

This was a year of growth for the e-book and flourishing for the Jewish American novel, with fine new fiction across the generations.

Judith Viorst and Nora Ephron offer up new memories and life stories in their end-of-year memoirs.

The Chabad Scribe

Yehoshua November’s award-winning debut poetry collection brings the divine presence to everyday life.

12/14/2010
Jewish Week Book Critic

‘Sometimes you see them/in the dressing area/of the ritual bath,” Yehoshua November begins his poem, “Baal Teshuvas at the Mikvah.

God's Optimism

Montaigne’s Jewish Question

How much did the French philosopher know about his Jewish roots?

12/07/2010
Staff Writer

It should be no surprise that author Sarah Bakewell found in the 16th-century French writer Michel de Montaigne a voice that is entirely of the present.

“I’m flummoxed as to what to make of this whole story,” says author Sarah Bakewell, referring to Montaigne’s elusive Jewish back

Concerto For Interfaith Dialogue

Conductor Gilbert Levine reflects on his musical
and personal relationship with Pope John Paul II.

12/07/2010
Staff Writer

If Gilbert Levine had fulfilled his lifelong dream to spend his days making music, but never conducted some of the world’s leading orchestras — dayenu. It would have been enough.

If he had gone to Poland in 1987 as artistic director of the Krakow Philharmonic, the first American to lead an orchestra in still-communist Eastern Europe, but never met Pope John Paul II — dayenu.

Gilbert Levine has conducted a personal effort of reconciliation between Judaism and the Catholic Church. Tony Gale

Israel Rising

Noted military historian Martin van Creveld charts
the country’s rough road in ‘Land of Blood and Honey.’

11/30/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

There have been surprisingly few books written about the history of the Zionist enterprise and about the success story of that enterprise, the State of Israel. Walter Laqueur’s 1972 “A History of Zionism” is magisterial, and Martin Gilbert’s 1998 “Israel: A History” is a frankly admiring portrait of the Jewish state, rich in detail; it reads as if it were the “official” biography of the state.

Van Creveld has an impressive track record as one of the leading military historians.

Liberal Zionism’s Champion

From inside the Orthodox fold, Peter Beinart is honing his critique about why young Jews are ditching Israel.

11/23/2010
Staff Writer

In America, the lines of debate on Israel are starkly drawn; respected intellectuals cross them at their peril. You need only look at the reputations of the late Tony Judt or Alan Dershowitz — accomplished scholars in their respective fields — whose outspoken views on Israel have become caricatures for either side of the debate: Judt, the anti-Zionist; Dershowitz, the pro-Israel hawk.

The same type of thing might have happened to Peter Beinart.

The tension Beinart feels — between liberal values and unqualified support for Israel — is animating his writing.

Mr. Bellow’s Planet

11/16/2010
Staff Writer

Fittingly, the story of how novelist Benjamin Taylor became the editor of the newly published collection of Saul Bellow’s letters begins with a letter. Not a letter between Bellow and Taylor, to be sure — they never knew each other, in fact — but a letter between Taylor and Philip Roth.

The novelist’s letters — 708 of them — reveal his complicated relationship with Jewish life.

The Shtetl, Reconsidered

A new generation of scholars is upending traditional notions of Jewish ‘memory’ and why Jews left Eastern Europe.

11/02/2010
Staff Writer

When the historian Rebecca Kobrin began researching her book “Jewish Bialystok and Its Diaspora,” which came out this spring, she was struck by the strange way Eastern European Jewish immigrants used words like “exile” and “diaspora.” Between 1880 and 1914, when most of America’s Jews came over from Europe, they did not speak about exile in terms of Israel, as we often do now. They used those words instead in relation to the places they actually left: Bialystok, Vilna, Warsaw, Lodz.

“Fiddler on the Roof,”

Object Lesson

In ‘Great House,’ Nicole Krauss explores the connections between memory and weighty things.

10/26/2010
Jewish Week Book Critic

A Hungarian-born antiques dealer with a fine eye for furniture helps people find pieces of their past — perhaps a chest from a living room broken up by the Nazis or a porcelain mantel clock. In his own stone house in Jerusalem,

Nicole Krauss says her plots are influenced by what's on her mind — the burden of inheritance. Joyce Ravid
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