Literary Guides

‘The Silent Jews,’ Given Voice

Times reporter Doreen Carvajal’s memoir sets out ‘to find some broken spiritual shards of myself and my ancestors.’

Jewish Week Book Critic
11/20/2012

Her name was the first clue. Over the years, people pointed out to Doreen Carvajal, who was raised Catholic, that her last name sounded like a name of conversos, Spanish Jews forced to convert during the Inquisition. Caught up in other ambitions, she didn’t pay much attention.

Doreen Carvajal, raised Catholic but interested in her possible Jewish roots, visited villages in southern Spain where relatives

Coming Of Age In Khaki

In a debut novel, a 25-year-old Israeli writes the stories of young women serving in the IDF.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/20/2012

In the wake of the Six-Day War, our lives as college-bound preppies seemed puny compared to the glorious achievements of 18-year-old Israeli soldiers. In those days, the experience of our Israeli counterparts was so thoroughly mythologized, their coming- of-age literature always had a formulaic arc: Young recruits went from self-doubt to mature commitment to a mission larger than themselves. Their lives had a sense of purpose that ours, as teens in the diaspora, could never rival.

Shani Boianjiu’s manages an exquisite tension between the eventless and the explosive. Alon Sigavi

Herman Wouk Lightens Up?

The novelist, at 97, has some fun with, of all people, Moses in ‘The Lawgiver.”

Special To The Jewish Week
11/20/2012

Last year, Stephen King titled a short story, “Herman Wouk Is Still Alive.” Well, it’s time for an update. Not only is Herman Wouk still alive, now age 97, he has just published a new novel, “The Lawgiver” (Simon & Schuster).

In “The Lawgiver,” Wouk takes inspiration from his pre-World War II career as a radio comedy writer for Fred Allen. (c) 2012 Liz

Fall Literary Guide November 2012

Herman Wouk lightens up, IDF women coming of age in khaki, and why Jews eat Chinese on Christmas.

11/20/2012
Fall Literary Guide November 2012

Fall Literary Guide 2011

The Book on Israel A new read on the Jewish state, from Oz and Shalev to a biography of Jerusalem and a take on the country’s internal conflicts.

11/22/2011
LITERARY GUIDE Fall 2011

Gained In Translations

A translator (and fiction writer) on the tricky task of turning Israeli novels into English.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/22/2011

Amuch-discussed fact in the publishing world is the following statistic: only about 3 percent of all books published annually in the U.S. are works translated from another language. The stats for literary fiction and poetry are even more dismal, at 0.7 percent. So if you are an excellent writer writing in Danish or Polish or Chinese, a writer with good reviews, even a faithful following of readers, your work may never see the light of day in English.

Coming Apart At The Seams?

Gershom Gorenberg looks at the internal conflicts that threaten to ‘unmake’ Israel.

Special To The Jewish Week
11/22/2011

‘The other Arab-Israeli conflict,” a locution famously visited upon us by Middle East analyst Steven Spiegel, is well applied to “The Unmaking of Israel” (HarperCollins), Gershom Gorenberg’s cogent and incisive new book. Indeed, Gorenberg’s very first chapter — on the well-remembered but little-understood Altalena Affair — tells us all we need to know about the internal conflicts in the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine) and in the new state.

Veteran Israeli writer Gershom Gorenberg.

‘Prime’ Biographies

The life and times of David Ben-Gurion and Ariel Sharon, two prime ministers who define Israel.

Staff Writer
11/22/2011

In Jewish publishing, the Year of the Prime Minister continues. On the heels of Yehuda Avner’s exhaustive 2010 “The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership” (Toby Press), an insider’s look at the lives and careers of four world-stage Israelis, come two more profiles of Israeli prime ministers by authors who knew them well — in one case, a son; in the other, a longtime adviser and confidante.

Two new books recount the live of former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and David Ben-Gurion.

The Wizardry Of Amos Oz

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

Staff Writer
11/22/2011

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.

Clean Sweep

Meir Shalev remembers his grandmother, a pioneer Martha Stewart, and that very American vacuum cleaner.

Jewish Week Book Critic
11/22/2011

In some circles, Meir Shalev’s grandparents would be considered Zionist royalty: They were among the founders and first settlers of Israel’s earliest agricultural cooperative, or moshav, Nahalal, established in 1921. They lived simply and honorably and worked hard, sometimes in poverty, tending the land and their chickens.

The award-winning Israeli writer was born in 1948 on Nahalal. While he grew up mostly in Jerusalem, he visited the moshav regularly. His mother always reminded him of his pedigree, that he too was a son of Nahalal.

My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner
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