Literary Guides

A Short, Short Story

11/26/2014

Note: Marina Rubin is the author of several volumes of poetry and “Stealing Cherries” (Manic D Press), a 2013 collection of very short (sometimes) autobiographical stories that each fit squarely into a block of text on a single page. The Jewish Week asked her to reflect — in her micro-story style — on her experiences writing the collection and taking it on the road.

Logic

I was proud. I had written three books of poetry and the last one had
surpassed even my own expectations in terms of craft, I called it Logic.
But when it came out no one cared, poetry was like a corset, constricting and archaic. I made the only logical decision — not to write again.

New Land, New Anxiety

A troika of émigré tales in a variety of genres.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/26/2014

A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir. By Lev Golinkin (Doubleday).

Panic in a Suitcase. By Yelena Akhtiorskaya (Riverhead Books).

Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel: A Graphic Novel. By Anya Ulinich (Penguin).

Yelena Akhtiorskaya, the 25-year-old author of “Panic in a Suitcase.” Sarah Shatz

Grandmother, Grandfather And Me

A Russian-American writer meditates on family, immigration and ‘material’ for his novel.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/26/2014

‘Grandmother was not a semi-annual hair tousler. … She had raised him.” So begins the introduction to Slava Gelman’s grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, in my debut novel “A Replacement Life,” about a frustrated writer who begins forging Holocaust-restitution claims for old Russian Jews in Brooklyn, New York. It is Grandmother’s death that partly persuades Slava to invent stories of suffering — an opportunity to recreate on the page a grandmother he never got to know in real life. Hers is the presence that hovers over the novel.

Boris Fishman, in his younger days with his Russian émigré grandparents. At right, Fishman today. Boris Fishman/Rob Liguori

The Émigré Aesthetic

The newest chapters in the Russian-American-Jewish story.

Culture Editor
11/26/2014

Some years back, new immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were participating in an English conversation class I was leading would ask about the American writer Jack London, whose “The Call of the Wild” and many other books are translated into Russian and widely read. With enthusiasm, they’d explain that they were drawn by his sense of adventure and struggle; London was an advocate for the rights of workers and the oppressed. One of the many things that surprised them about America was that London — whose works, like “The Call of the Wild,” were very popular in the U.S. during the early part of the 20th century — is no longer among America’s most popular writers.

Natan Sharansky, The Novel

Set in Israel and the Crimea, David Bezmozgis’ new novel looks at some of the choices (moral and otherwise) faced by Soviet Jews.

Culture Editor
11/26/2014

Leaving Israel recently on a late-night flight, the lines through security were crowded with Russians — relatives of Israelis, nuns on religious pilgrimages (who are also relatives of Israelis) and tourists with bulging shopping bags. I remembered their faces as I read David Bezmozgis’ brilliant new novel “Betrayal” (Little, Brown), which chronicles a very quick trip out of Israel to the faded resort of Yalta in the Crimea.

Born in Latvia, raised in Canada, novelist David Bezmozgis.

Fall Literary Preview November 2014

The Next Wave Of Russian-Jewish Literature

11/25/2014
Fall Literary Preview November 2014

Picture This

A roundup of children’s books range from the serious (coping with breast cancer) to the multicultural (Chanukah and Diwali).

Culture Editor
11/13/2013

Image is everything, a clever ad spot for a camera company once claimed. And so it is with the writers (and illustrators) of picture books, who try to tell stories that marry word and image, ones that will stay with the reader.

A new collection of children’s books approach Jewish culture and Jewish identity from many perspectives.

Portraits Of The Feminist As A Young Woman

In two memoirs, from Paris to Kabul, Phyllis Chesler and Nancy K. Miller chart exotic adventures that helped form them.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/13/2013

What can be said about the relationship between who we are now and the more impulsive young people we once were? Can the passion and pathos of youth offer insight into our more seasoned selves?

Writers Phyllis Chesler, left, and Nancy Miller, have written memoirs about the growth of self-knowledge.

Dauber’s ‘Worlds Of Sholem Aleichem’

11/13/2013

Jeremy Dauber’s biography of Sholem Aleichem is beautifully written, following the threads of the writer’s too short life (he died at 56) and the stories he invented, and their characters, which have taken on lives of their own. “The Worlds of Sholem Aleichem: The Remarkable Life and Afterlife of the Man Who Created Tevye” (Nextbook/Schocken), is the first comprehensive biography of the giant of Yiddish literature.

Tracing Tevye’s Cultural Footprint

Alisa Solomon looks at the deep imprint made by ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ as the 50th anniversary of the show’s Broadway debut nears.

Culture Editor
11/13/2013

In the spring of 1969, a group of black and Puerto Rican junior high school students staged “Fiddler on the Roof” in Brownsville, Brooklyn, as black-Jewish tension swirled around them amidst school and community board controversies and teacher strikes. Richard Piro, the drama teacher directing the production, believed that the show would give these kids a more sympathetic understanding of Jews. The principal would have preferred “Guys and Dolls.”

In “Wonders of Wonders,” Alisa Solomon traces the history of “Fiddler on the Roof” and its path through various countries.
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