Literary Guides

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.

A Country On The Edge

Ari Shavit’s history of Israel, a kind of cry of the heart, raises the existential questions that have come to define the state of Zionism today.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/13/2013

Peace activist Ari Shavit a direct descendent of Herbert Bentwich, one of Britain’s leading Jews and Zionist leaders? Shavit, a Bentwich?

In “My Promised Land,” peace activist Ari Shavit questions some founding myths that have defined Israel over the decades.

Of Rothian Proportions

Claudia Roth Pierpont takes the measure of the great novelist who enraged the Jews.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/13/2013

How did it happen that Philip Roth, the one-time bad boy of American Jewish literature, is now, at the age of 80, the Great Man of Jewish Letters? It’s not a Kafkaesque transformation (though Kafka’s influence can be seen throughout Roth’s work). It’s more like a counterlife narrative from one of Roth’s own novels (one of which he did title “The Counterlife,” after all). And in “Roth Unbound: A Writer And His Books” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), literary critic Claudia Roth Pierpont tells us how it came about.

In “Roth Unbound,” Claudia Roth Pierpoint,chronicles the life and career of the novelist.

Fall Literary Guide November 2013

A biography of literary giant Phillip Roth, Ari Shavit’s troubling history of Israel, the cultural imprint of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and more.

11/12/2013
Fall Literary Guide November 2013

A 20th-Century Murder Case

‘Norwegian by Night’ transcends the usual thriller genre to offer comment on wars from Vietnam to Kosovo.

Special To The Jewish Week
06/19/2013

It begins, as all such stories do, with a murder.

Derek Miller’s “Norwegian by Night” is a treatise on Europe’s wars and genocides, in the guise of a murder-mystery.

Three Immigrant Tales Test Genre’s Flexibility

For Andre Aciman, A.J. Sidransky and Jessica Sofer, questions of identity, assimilation and food.

Jewish Week Book Critic
06/19/2013

In his memoir and essays, Andre Aciman has captured the inner life of exile, what it’s like to stand in one place and be reminded of another, to long for that other place, even knowing it no longer exits. He embraces his new land of America, while Egypt and Europe, his motherlands, are very present. A masterful writer, Aciman is most at home in the place of not feeling at home, anywhere.

The tensions felt by newcomers in foreign settings color the plots of several new novels.

Three Immigrant Tales Test Genre’s Flexibility

For Andre Aciman, A.J. Sidransky and Jessica Sofer, questions of identity, assimilation and food.

Jewish Week Book Critic
06/19/2013

In his memoir and essays, Andre Aciman has captured the inner life of exile, what it’s like to stand in one place and be reminded of another, to long for that other place, even knowing it no longer exits. He embraces his new land of America, while Egypt and Europe, his motherlands, are very present. A masterful writer, Aciman is most at home in the place of not feeling at home, anywhere.

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