Literary Guides

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.

‘What If The Messiah Is A Woman?’

Tova Reich’s new novel is a passionate polemic against the religiously sanctioned mistreatment of women.

Special To The Jewish Week
06/19/2013

Not long ago, a woman rabbi raised a provocative question: Might we dare imagine Judaism as it would be if the tradition had been shaped and transmitted by feminists? Or to put it differently, how is Judaism experienced through the mind/body of a spiritually attuned woman?

Tova Reich’s “One Hundred Philistine Foreskins” imagines a Jewish tradition shaped by feminists.

A Couple Of Greenhorns, Magical Realism Style

In ‘The Golem and the Jinni,’ Helene Wecker tells an immigrant story of Jews and Arabs as a multicultural fairy tale.

Special To The Jewish Week
06/19/2013

Reading Helene Wecker’s debut novel “The Golem and the Jinni” (Harper) is akin to embarking on a magic carpet journey in time to a place that resembles the roiling ethnic neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan circa 1900.

“The Golem and the Jinni,” first-time novelist Helene Wecker.

We Eat Chinese On Christmas

The origins of a Jewish tradition.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/20/2012

During Elena Kagan’s United States Supreme Court confirmation hearings of 2010, at a particularly contentious moment, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham directed the discussion to the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt on a Detroit-bound airliner.

The author charts the way from gefilte fish to chop suey.

Short Takes

A survivor’s art, a daughter’s memoir, a children’s hurricane tale.

Jewish Week Book Critic
11/20/2012

Many books tell the inspiring and amazing stories of Holocaust survivors who manage to resume their lives anew after experiencing unspeakable horrors. A large-format book transcends the genre, providing an unblinking account of the life of an artist who survived seven slave labor and concentration camps and went on to create fine art. In “Into the Light: The Healing Art of Kalman Aron” (Posterity Press/Hudson Hills), Susan Beilby Magee adds her perspective, illuminating his paintings.

Alex Witchel’s “All Gone” describes her mother’s descent into dementia.
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