Literary Guides

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
06/18/2013 - 20:00

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
06/18/2013 - 20:00

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
06/18/2013 - 20:00

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
06/18/2013 - 20:00

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
11/19/2012 - 19:00

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
11/19/2012 - 19:00

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.

‘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
11/19/2012 - 19:00

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
11/19/2012 - 19:00

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
11/19/2012 - 19:00

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.
11/19/2012 - 19:00
Fall Literary Guide November 2012
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