Literary Guides

A Montefiore Takes On Jerusalem

With a family pedigree and a sharp political eye, Simon Sebag Montefiore tries to get at the ‘truth’ of the complex city.
Special To The Jewish Week

When Simon Sebag Montefiore was writing his new history, “Jerusalem: The Biography” (Knopf) he knew his objectivity would inevitably be questioned. After all, the author was not only Jewish, but, well, a Montefiore, one of England’s most respected Jewish families, and one with deep personal ties to the city.

Montefiore Jerusalem

Top Jewish Chefs, Back In The Kitchen

The latest fare — from teen food to leek terrine — courtesy of Susie Fishbein, Jamie Geller and Joan Nathan.
Editorial Assistant

Whether they want to prepare haute cuisine or instant kugel or or vegan cholent, kosher cooks looking for recipes and inspiration today have plenty of new books to pick from — thanks to several top Jewish chefs.

Kosher cooks have a plethora of options for new cookbooks, from established names like Joan Nathan.

Short Takes

From illustrator Al Jaffee to the Cairo Genizah to a portrait of ‘Young Tel Aviv.’
Jewish Week Book Critic

Even if you haven’t picked up a Mad magazine in decades, you’re likely to remember the fold-ins, the signature feature that has appeared in almost every issue since 1964, created by Al Jaffee. Mary-Lou Weissman, a friend for more than 30 years, presents Al Jaffee’s Mad Life (It Books), with 70 original illustrations by Jaffee. Now 89, he is the magazine’s oldest and most prolific contributor, still creating fold-ins.

Inside An ‘Epic Struggle’

Gal Beckerman’s book provides much-needed coherence to the history of the Soviet Jewry movement.
Special To The JewishWeek

The campaign on behalf of Soviet Jewry — the “Soviet Jewry Movement,” as it became known — has been the topic of any number of books over the past decade and more. The story of how the “struggle” on behalf of the Jews of the Soviet Union became a “movement” parallels that of the other great “movement” of the 20th century, civil rights.

Gal Beckerman tells how the Soviet Jewry movement grew into a major foreign policy success.

Guilt On Trial

Elie Wiesel’s new novel explores themes of memory, justice and journalistic ethics.
Jewish Week Book Critic

When Werner Sonderberg replies “Guilty … and not guilty,” after being asked to enter his plea in a New York courtroom, the judge and spectators are stunned. Sonderberg, a young German expatriate who is accused of murder, seems to want to explain something to the court, but he is silenced.

A complex murder trial forms the underpinning of Wiesel’s new novel.

Paris, When It Fizzles

In reworking Henry James’ ‘The Ambassadors,’ Cynthia Ozick strikes a chord for America against a post-Shoah Europe.
Special To The Jewish Week

What inspires an artist? Cynthia Ozick’s new novel, “Foreign Bodies” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), is in part an attempt to answer that much vexed question, though as we know from her prior writing, there is never one simple answer. Inspiration can come as an angry bang on a piano is translated to a symphony, as it does in this novel.

New world symphony: In “Foreign Bodies,” novelist Cynthia Ozick views post-war America as more civilized than Europe.

High Drama, On And Off Stage

First English-language biography of Sarah Bernhardt in decades captures her complicated life.
Jewish Week Book Critic

When my sisters and I were overly dramatic while growing up, we were lovingly rebuked, “You’re a regular Sarah Bernhardt.” We weren’t the only ones to hear this line, which echoed across suburbs and cities.

Robert Gottlieb’s “Sarah” reflects the highs and lows of Sarah Bernhardt’s life, which gained international renown a century ago

Roth The Theologian

In a Newark playground, who shall live and who shall die?
Special To The Jewish Week

With his latest novel, “Nemesis” (Houghton Mifflin), Philip Roth enters the realm of theology. Set in the summer of 1944, in the mostly Jewish Weequahic section of Newark, it is ostensibly the story of Bucky Cantor, a vital, young, virtue-driven athlete and gym teacher deemed unfit for World War II combat because of his faulty eyesight.

In his latest novel, Philip Roth delves into the randomness of the universe as the polio epidemic grips Newark in 1944.

Literary Guide Fall 2010

Our annual November book section features some heavyweight fiction from Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick and Elie Wiesel. Plus, inside the Soviet Jewry movement, a new biography of Sarah Bernhardt and new cookbooks from some Top Jewish Chefs.
Staff Writer
Fall Literary Guide

Jewish Identity, Up For Grabs

Special To The Jewish Week
‘Very few people know who I am,” Salvador Dalí is reputed to have said, “And I am not one of them.” Well, count me in — at least when it comes to the question of what is a Jew. Are Jews a national group? A religion? A race? Are Jews an “ethnicity” — whatever that means? A language group? All of the above? Some of the above?
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