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Novels and Fiction
(click on a listing for more information, to see the cover art, or to purchase it)

[book cover click here][book cover click here] The World to Come
A novel
by Dara Horn
January 2006, WW Norton
In 2005, a million-dollar painting, a sketch for "Over Vitebsk" by Marc Chagall, is stolen from a museum - during a singles' cocktail hour. The unlikely thief is Benjamin Ziskind, a lonely former child-prodigy who writes questions for quiz shows, and who believes the painting belongs to his family. Ben tries to evade the police while he seeks out the truth of how the painting got to the museum - whether the "original" is really a forgery - and whether his twin sister, an artist, can create a successful forgery to take its place. As the story unfolds - with the delicacy and complexity of origami - we are brought back to the 1920s in Soviet Russia, where Marc Chagall taught art to orphaned Jewish boys. There, Chagall befriended the great Yiddish novelist known by the pseudonym "Der Nister," the Hidden One. And there the story of the painting begins, carrying with it not only a hidden fable by the Hidden One, but also the story of the Ziskind family - from Russia to New Jersey and Vietnam. Dara Horn interweaves mystery, romance, folklore, theology, history, and scripture into a spellbinding modern tale. She brings us on a breathtaking collision course of past, present, and future - revealing both the ordinariness and the beauty of "the world to come." Nestling stories within stories, this is a novel of remarkable clarity and deep inner meaning. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] Absurdistan
A Novel
by Gary Shteyngart
May 2006.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Misha Vainberg, the rich, arrogant and very funny hero of Shteyngart's follow-up to The Russian Debutante's Handbook, compares himself early on to Prince Myshkin from Dostoyevski's The Idiot: "Like the prince, I am something of a holy fool... an innocent surrounded by schemers." Readers will more likely note his striking resemblance to John Kennedy Toole's Ignatius Reilly. A "sophisticate and a melancholic," Misha is an obese 30-year-old Russian heir to a post-Soviet fortune. After living in the Midwest and New York City for 12 years, he considers himself "an American impounded in a Russian body." But his father in St. Petersburg has killed an Oklahoma businessman and then turned up dead himself, and Misha, trying to leave Petersburg after the funeral, is denied a visa to the United States. The novel is written as his appeal, "a love letter and also a plea," to the Immigration and Naturalization Service to allow him to return to the States, which lovingly and hilariously follows Misha's attempt to secure a bogus Belgian passport in the tiny post-Soviet country of Absurdistan. Along the way, Shteyngart's graphic, slapstick satire portrays the American dream as experienced by hungry newborn democracies, and covers everything from crony capitalism to multiculturalism. It's also a love story. Misha is in love with New York City and with Rouenna Sales, his "giant multicultural swallow" from the South Bronx, despite the pain they have caused him: a botched bris performed on Misha at age 18 by New York City's Hasid-run Mitzvah Mobile, and Rouenna running off with his stateside rival (and Shteyngart's doppelganger), Jerry Shteynfarb (author of "The Russian Arriviste's Hand Job") while Misha is stuck in Russia. The ruling class of Absurdistan is in love with the corrupt American company Halliburton, which is helping the rulers in a civil war in order to defraud the U.S. government. Halliburton, in turn, is in love with Absurdistan for the money it plans to make rebuilding Absurdistan's "inferstructure" and for the plentiful hookers who spend their nights and days by hotel pools looking for "Golly Burton" employees to service. And everyone is in love with America-or at least its money. Everything in Shteyngart's frustrated world-characters, countries, landscapes-strives for U.S.-style culture and prosperity, a quest that gives shape to the melancholy and hysteria of Shteyngart's Russia. Extending allegorical tentacles back to the Cold War and forward to the War on Terror, Shteyngart piles on plots, characters and flashbacks without losing any of the novel's madcap momentum, and the novel builds to a frantic pitch before coming to a breathless halt on the day before 9/11. The result is a sendup of American values abroad and a complex, sympathetic protagonist worthy of comparison to America's enduring literary heroes. Click the book cover above to read more.
















SEPTEMBER 2006


Also available on Audio CD
[book] The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
A novel by John Boyne
September 2006. David Fickling Books
Readers of MyJewishBooks.com will remember this as a book that was so hot, that we redirected readers to a British bookstore to get this book in 2005. Now for Fall 2006, it is available in the USA
Don't let anyone tell you about this book. It is best read on your own, so you can discover it for yourself.
Berlin 1942
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.
But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences. Click the book cover to read more.







[book] Somewhere in Germany
A Novel
by Stefanie Zweig, Marlies Comjean
September 2006. David Fickling Books
From Publishers Weekly. Published in Germany in 1996, this autobiographical sequel to Zweig's noteworthy Nowhere in Africa follows the Redlichs as they return to Germany in 1947 after 10 years in exile from National Socialism on a Kenyan farm. Walter is so desperate to practice law again that he uproots his complaining wife, Jettel, his clever, nurturing daughter, Regina, and baby Max to Frankfurt, where gentiles either make snide anti-Semitic comments or claim that they saved Jews and used to have many Jewish friends. Zweig has a deft hand with telling anecdotes. A gas company employee and his wife are evicted when they lack the necessary clout to defend themselves against political charges. In the deprivations of postwar Frankfurt, steel helmets become saucepans and a care package containing American foodstuffs elicits joyful tears. Also vividly described are bighearted Walter's staunch belief in the existence of "the decent German" and budding journalist Regina's meeting with Otto Frank, who tells her how much she reminds him of his daughter, Anne. Although its setting isn't the exotic Kenya of the original novel and Comjean's translation is stiff and prolix, this is a worthy meditation on homelessness, exile and belonging. Click the book cover to read more. Also... if you want to see the film: [book]









[book] The Righteous Men
by Sam Bourne
September 1, 2006. William Morrow.
From Booklist: Our pop-cultural obsession with The Da Vinci Code continues to breed more religious-historical thrillers. Bourne's novel, which draws its inspiration from the Jewish rather than the Christian tradition, is one of the better ones. Sent to cover two seemingly unrelated murders--of a New York City pimp and a Montana militiaman--ambitious journalist Will Monroe discovers something that piques his interest: both victims had a secret. Despite brutal deeds in life, each had done extraordinary good. Then Monroe's wife is kidnapped. His search for her takes him into the Hasidic Jewish community of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, where he first hears the legend of the 36 righteous men whose selfless acts allow the rest of us to exist--and learns that they are being systematically killed. Always twisting and turning, Bourne's novel takes readers on a dramatic, full-throttle adventure, which ultimately offers a timely spin on the question, "Can the end ever justify the means?"
Click the book cover to read more. (95,000 copies in the first printing!)








[book] The Littlest Hitler
Stories
by Ryan Boudinot
September 2006. Counterpoint / Perseus
In the title story, a little boy dresses as Hitler for Halloween. The girl who he fancies dresses as Anne Frank. Ummm. O. Henry never thought up stories like these. In another story, teens in the future must kill their parents (preferably with ice picks) to get accepted into the colleges of their choice. Is this the influence of Yaddo. Such are the stories of Mr. Boudinit (author, and employee at Amazon.com) Click the book cover to read more.






[book] The SCar of David
A Novel
by Susan Abulhawa
FALL 2006. NewSouthBooks.com
Set within one of the 20th century's most intractable political conflicts, The Scar of David is historical fiction about a Palestinian family from the village of Ein Hod, which was emptied of its inhabitants by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948. Three massacres and two major wars provide the foundation to a love story and the eventual reunion of family members lost to each other for two decades. This story reveals Palestinians with the undaunted will to take their place among the nations as human beings, worthy of human rights, and the basic dignity of heritage. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] THE ONE FROM THE OTHER
A BERNIE GUNTHER NOVEL
by Philip Kerr
FALL 2006. Putnam
Germany, 1949: Amid the chaos of defeat, it's a place of dirty deals, rampant greed, fleeing Nazis, and all the intrigue and deceit readers have come to expect from this immensely talented thriller writer. In The One from the Other, Hitler's legacy lives on. For Bernie Gunther, Berlin has become too dangerous, and he now works as a private detective in Munich. Business is slow and his funds are dwindling when a woman hires him to investigate her husband's disappearance. No, she doesn't want him back-he's a war criminal. She merely wants confirmation that he is dead. It's a simple job, but in postwar Germany, nothing is simple-nothing is what it appears to be. Accepting the case,Bernie takes on far more than he'd bargained for, and before long, he is on the run, facing enemies from every side. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] DISOBEDIENCE
A novel
By NAOMI ALDERMAN
September 2006, Simon and Schuster / Touchstone
From Publishers Weekly: Alderman draws on her Orthodox Jewish upbringing and current life in Hendon, England, for her entertaining debut, which won the Orange Prize for New Writers after it was published in the U.K. in March. In writing about the inhabitants of this small, gossipy society, Alderman cleverly uses a slightly sinister, omniscient "we" to represent a community that speaks with one voice, and her descriptions of Orthodox customs are richly embroidered. Alternating with this perspective is the first-person narrative of Ronit Krushka, a woman who has left the community and is now a financial analyst in New York. After the death of her estranged father, a powerful rabbi, Ronit returns to England to mourn her father and to confront her past, including a female lover. But Ronit's shock that an Orthodox lesbian would marry a man rings false, as does her casually condescending attitude toward the community. By the time of the theatrical, unrealistic climax, Ronit's struggle between religious and secular imperatives gets reduced to cliché ("all we have, in the end, are the choices we make"), but Ronit works well as a vehicle for the opinion that even the most alienated New York Judaism is preferable to the English version, where "the Jewish fear of being noticed and the natural British reticence interact." Click the book cover to read more.






[book] WIDE AWAKE
A Novel by
David Levithan
September 2006, Knopf
Ages 9 and up
From Booklist In Boy Meets Boy (2003), Levithan created a town where being gay is no big thing. In his latest, he imagines a future America--after the Reign of Fear, after the Greater Depression, the War to End All Wars, the Jesus Revolution, and the Prada Riots. Living in this not quite but almost believable America are Duncan and his boyfriend, Jimmy, who start out the book rejoicing that Abe Stein, both gay and Jewish, has been elected president. Unsurprisingly, however, the governor of Kansas demands a recount, causing both Stein supporters and Stein haters to travel en masse to Kansas. Into this politically charged atmosphere go Duncan and Jimmy, who experience what proves to be a life-changing journey for them and their country. Levithan is best when he's focused on the two nuanced teenagers. Duncan's first-person narration--vulnerable, insecure, caring--absolutely sings, and his relationship with the outspoken Jimmy has all the awkwardness and intensity of first love. Clearly responding to current politics, Levithan's vision of the future occasionally dips into heavy-handed moralizing, but politics are so well integrated and thought-provoking that those moments are forgivable. As much about love as about politics, Levithan's latest reaches out to shake readers awake, showing them how each person's life touches another, and another, until ultimately history is made. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] PHILIP ROTH
NOVELS 1973-1977
The Great American Novel (1973)
My Life as a Man (1974)
The Professor of Desire (1977)
Edited By ROSS Miller, Univ of Connecticut
2006, The Library of America
This third volume in The Library of America's definitive edition of Philip Roth's collected works presents three markedly different novels that together trace a crucial period in the bold evolution of one of America's indispensable novelists. Surely the funniest novel ever written about baseball, The Great American Novel (1973) turns our national pastime into unfettered picaresque farce.
[book] [book] The cast of improbable characters includes: Gil Gamesh, the pitcher who actually tried to kill the umpire; John Baal, the ex-con first baseman, "The Babe Ruth of the Big House," who never hit a home run sober; and the House Un-American Activities Committee. My Life as a Man (1974), Roth's most blistering novel, presents the treacherous world of Strindberg nearly a century later in the story of a fierce marital tragedy of obsession and blindness and desperate need. The Professor of Desire (1977)-the novel that prompted Milan Kundera to proclaim Roth "a great historian of modern eroticism"-follows an adventurous man of intelligence and feeling into and out of the tempting wilderness of erotic possibility. Click the book cover to read more.






Time out... are you telling me that the Jews are responsible for Hanibal Lecter the Cannibal? Well... it seems as if his mentor growing up was Jewish, until the Nazi's murdered him... and...
[book] Hannibal Rising
by Thomas Harris
December 2006, Delacorte Press
From Publishers Weekly: Twenty-five years after Hannibal Lecter, a cross between Professor Moriarty and Jack the Ripper, first invaded the imaginations of countless readers worldwide in Red Dragon, bestseller Harris has crafted an unmemorable prequel that's intended to explain the origins of Lecter's evil. Fans of Harris's previous Lecter novel, Hannibal (1999), already know the major trauma that transformed the young Lecter's murder of his beloved younger sister, Mischa, during WWII&mdashwhich the author describes in more grisly detail. Lecter also has an unusual love interest, his uncle's Japanese wife, Lady Murasaki, but the bulk of the narrative focuses on Lecter's quest for revenge on those he holds responsible for Mischa's death. Unfortunately, the prose and plotting lack the suspenseful power of Red Dragon or The Silence of the Lambs, and will leave many feeling that with such a masterful monster as Lecter, less is more. . Click the book cover to read more.






[book] GOLEM SONG
A novel By Marc Estrin
November 2006, Unbridled
By some incalculable force of human attraction, Alan Krieger has two lovers. A man of his girth and compulsion, a man who cannot stop talking, a man to whom the entire world seems completely irrational, should not take one woman for granted, much less two. Companions who can tolerate his anger, his obsessions, and his antic clowning all at the same time are not easy to come by. But when the thought arises in Alan that he's been "chosen" to deliver Jewish America from the threat of Anti-Semitism, then all his connections to reality fall away, including those to his lovers and his family. Recalling the folktale of the Golem - the Frankensteinian giant of clay that saved the Jews in 16th Century Prague - Alan lays out a plan of attack and then sets to making the most outrageous of preparations in the culture wars. Like each of the acclaimed Estrin novels that have preceded it, Golem Song is a brilliant, allusive, manic, and wildly comic approach to some of the most serious and difficult cultural questions of our time. Click the book cover to read more.






[book] Goy Crazy
A novel by Melissa Schorr
September 2006. Hyperion
A young adult novel
HILARIOUS NOVEL ABOUT FALLING FOR THE WRONG GOY Rachel Lowenstein can't help it. She's got a massive crush on a goy: Luke Christensen, the gorgeous star of the basketball team at St. Joseph's prep. But as the name implies, he's not exactly in Rachel's tribe. Rachel just knows her parents would never approve. Then Rachel's Jewish grandmother issues a stern edict--"Don't go with the goyim!"-- sealing Rachel's fate and presenting her with a serious dilemma. Everyone's got an opinion-from her annoying neighbor Howard to her newly social-climbing best friend. Should Rachel follow her heart and turn her back on her faith? Or should she heed her family's advice and try and find a nice Jewish boy? With an unforgettable cast of characters and razor-sharp wit, Melissa Schorr's debut novel is an engaging comedy about a girl's decision to go goy crazy. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] [book] [book] [book] The Adventures of Rabbi Harvey
A Graphic Novel of Jewish Wisdom and Wit in the Wild West
By Steve Sheinkin
Fall 2006. Jewish Lights
A fresh look at Jewish folktales-wise, witty, hilarious After finishing school in New York, Rabbi Harvey traveled west in search of adventure and, hopefully, work as a rabbi. His journey took him to Elk Spring, Colorado, a small town in the Rocky Mountains. When he managed to outwit the ruthless gang that had been ruling Elk Spring, the people invited Harvey to stay on as the town's rabbi. In Harvey's adventures in Elk Spring, he settles disputes, tricks criminals into confessing, and offers unsolicited bits of Talmudic insight and Hasidic wisdom. Each story presents Harvey with a unique challenge-from convincing a child that he is not actually a chicken, to retrieving stolen money from a sweet-faced bubbe gone bad. Like any good collection of Jewish folktales, these stories contain layers of humor and timeless wisdom that will entertain, teach and, especially, make you laugh. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] SECRETLY INSIDE
A NOVEL
BY HANS WARREN
May 2006. University of Wisconsin Press.
In English for the first time, this is a translation of the 1975 Dutch best seller, STEEN DER HULP, but the late Hans Warren, one of Holland's best known writers and diarists (he kept a diary from 1939 - 2001). This novel will have a film based on it in 2006 from Laika Films, directed by Bavo Defurne, the Belgian filmmaker. Ed is a Jew in hiding in Nazi occupied Holland. In Zeeland, he is taken in by some farmers. But perhaps the Van't Westeindes are not as friendly as the seem. Camiel, the son of the family, is mourning the suicide of his friend, a German soldier. Ed is interested in Camiel, while Mariete, the family's daughter is interested romantically in Ed. She is quite unstable. The farmhouse that is Ed's sanctuary slowly becomes his prison. Click the book cover above to read more.
[book]










[book] Conversation with Spinoza
A Cobweb Novel (Writings from an Unbound Europe)
by Goce Smilevski, Filip Korzenski (Translator)
MAY 2006. Northwestern University Press.
Prizing ideas above all else, radical thinker Baruch Spinoza left little behind in the way of personal facts and furnishings. But what of the tug of necessity, the urgings of the flesh, to which this genius philosopher (and grinder of lenses) might have been no more immune than the next man-or the next character, as Baruch Spinoza becomes in this intriguing novel by the remarkable young Macedonian author Goce Smilevski. Smilevski's novel brings the thinker Spinoza, all inner life, into conversation with the outer, all-too-real facts of his life and his day--from his connection to the Jewish community of Amsterdam, his excommunication in 1656, and the emergence of his philosophical system to his troubling feelings for his fourteen-year-old Latin teacher Clara Maria van den Enden and later his disciple Johannes Casearius. From this conversation there emerges a compelling and complex portrait of the life of an idea--and of a man who tries to live that idea.
"Through this extraordinary literary expedition, [he] gives the Spinoza 'hologram,' usually projected onto the pages of historic-philosophical studies, his peculiar double--a man of flesh and blood who paradoxically shares his lonely universe with all those existing, or to exist, similar to him."--Ana Dimiskovska, PEN Center Literary Review
From Publishers Weekly: At the deathbed of 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, "you," a kind of theoretical interlocutor, notices a teardrop on the dead man's cheek-of which his spirit then denies the existence. Thus begins Macedonian novelist Smilevski's fourth novel (his first translated into English), which uses Spinoza's work as a way into his scantily documented life. In order "[t]o understand my contempt for tears," Spinoza goes on to tell his life story: the early death of his mother, his rejection of all romance, the books he wrote and the ideas he cultivated-it's a life free from emotion or desire, lived according to his ideals. At the end, the interlocutor demands a retelling, one told by the Spinoza "who knew what despair and sorrow really meant"-and gets it. Not only does Smilevski fulfill the difficult task of explaining Spinoza's dense ideas, dropping sly references to Darwin and Kundera into 17th-century Dutch life but he makes a hidden life wonderfully manifest. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE ATTACK
A novel by Yasmina Khadra
MAY 2006. Nan A Talese.
From Publishers Weekly: [Ms.] Yasmina Khadra, the pseudonym of [Mr.] Mohammed Moulessehoul, an exiled Algerian writer celebrated for his politically themed fiction (The Swallows of Kabul), turns his attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this moving novel unlikely to satisfy partisans on either side of the issue. Dr. Amin Jaafari is a man caught between two worlds; he's a Bedouin Arab surgeon struggling to integrate himself into Israeli society. The balancing act becomes impossible when the terrorist responsible for a suicide bombing that claims 20 lives, including many children, is identified as Jaafari's wife by the Israeli police. Jaafari's disbelief that his secular, loving spouse committed the atrocity is overcome when he receives a letter from her posthumously. In an effort to make sense of her decision, Jaafari plunges into the Palestinian territories to discover the forces that recruited her. Khadra, who nicely captures his hero's turmoil in trying to come to terms with the endless violence, closes on an appropriately grim note. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Triangle
A Novel
by Katharine Weber
June 2006. FSG
Esther Gottesfeld is the last living survivor of the notorious 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire and has told her story countless times in the span of her lifetime. Even so, her death at the age of 106 leaves unanswered many questions about what happened that fateful day. How did she manage to survive the fire when at least 146 workers, most of them women, her sister and fiancé among them, burned or jumped to their deaths from the sweatshop inferno? Are the discrepancies in her various accounts over the years just ordinary human fallacy, or is there a hidden story in Esther's recollections of that terrible day? Esther's granddaughter Rebecca Gottesfeld, with her partner George Botkin, an ingenious composer, seek to unravel the facts of the matter while Ruth Zion, a zealous feminist historian of the fire, bores in on them with her own mole-like agenda. A brilliant, haunting novel about one of the most terrible tragedies in early-twentieth-century America, Triangle forces us to consider how we tell our stories, how we hear them, and how history is forged from unverifiable truths. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Gucci Gucci Coo
A novel
by Sue Margolis
JUNE 2006. Bantam
From Booklist: Ruby Silverman's boutique caters to London mothers who treat their tots like the latest fashion accessories. And the type of celebrities whose pregnancy bumps miraculously disappear the minute they're holding their new bundles of joy. But when she accidentally catches a pregnant star sporting a prosthetic belly, she suspects something fishy is going on at London's best maternity ward. Just to make things interesting, Ruby has recently begun dating a handsome American doctor at that very hospital. Margolis deftly takes on pregnancy, relationships, body image, and medical ethics all in one hilarious and quick-paced package. Who knew baby brokering could be such a riot? This popular British author keeps turning out fun and witty novels that readers will grab off the shelves. Though her previous books have drawn many Bridget Jones comparisons, her writing may become the new standard for the chick-lit genre. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] [book] HARD
A novel
by WAYNE HOFFMAN
JUNE 2006. Carroll and Graf
Taking place over the course of a single year, HARD periodically stops the action to delve into the sexual psyche of its main characters, exploring what motivates them, what turns them on, what defines their identity - what makes them hard. As FAGGOTS explored the 1970s sexual universe of gay men in New York, Hard takes a serious look a generation later, taking readers into adult theaters, online chat rooms, bedrooms, and into the minds of the gay men who have sex there. But while Faggots was written before AIDS, the characters in Hard are very much affected by the epidemic: Frank lost his lover to the disease, Gene is HIV-positive, Aaron's lover unwittingly puts them both in danger, and Moe Pearlman's sexual politics are deeply informed by AIDS. There's nobody in Hard who hasn't had his sexuality and politics shaped by the epidemic. There's also a motley crew of activists and sex partners, co-workers and family members, porn stars and B-list celebrities. The complex web of characters and subplots create a rich portrait of New York in the 1990s. And, like Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, Hard does it with edgy humor, snappy dialogue, and a scene-driven episodic structure.
Mr. Hoffman, the author, is an editor at THE FORWARD. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Hidden
A novel
by Victoria Lustbader
JUNE 2006. Forge
From Publishers Weekly: Lustbader's debut novel, set in roaring '20s New York, updates the Rich Man, Poor Man plot with a Brokeback Mountain twist. David Warshinski, 18, leaves his Jewish family's Lower East Side tenement to join the army, where he meets Jed Gates, grandson of a Manhattan business mogul. When the two friends return from WWI, David cuts off family ties, abandons his religion and changes his name to Shaw, while Jed refuses to acknowledge that he is in love with David. Instead, Jed dutifully marries, fathers a son and goes to work in the family business, keeping David, a financial and marketing genius bent on getting ahead, by his side. Meanwhile, David's sister Sarah, a seamstress still mourning their sister Rose (lost in the Triangle Factory fire) stealthily keeps track of David, and Jed's sister Lucy, a Henry Street Settlement nurse, knows all about David's desires. Lustbader, long time fiction editor at Harper & Row and Putnam, and the spouse of novelist Eric, skillfully envisions history in the making during a time of economic and social change. She falls prey to a few family saga clichés (fraternal feuds, maternal manipulation), but is terrific in depicting her characters' work lives. She transcends the miniseries story line to reveal a promising talent in historical fiction. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE CANTOR'S DAUGHTER
STORIES
By SCOTT NADELSON
JUNE 2006. HawthorneBooks.com
The Cantor's Daughter is the compelling new collection from Oregon Book Award Winner and recipient of the GLCA's New Writers Award for 2005, Scott Nadelson. In his follow-up to Saving Stanley, these stories capture Jewish New Jersey suburbanites in moments of crucial transition, when they have the opportunity to connect with those closest to them or forever miss their chance for true intimacy. In "The Headhunter," two men develop an unlikely friendship at work, but after twenty years of mutually supporting each other's families and careers their friendship comes to an abrupt and surprising end. In the title story, Noa Nechemia and her father have immigrated from Israel following a tragic car accident her mother did not survive. In one stunning moment of insight following a disastrous prom night, Noa discovers her ability to transcend grief and determine the direction of her own life. And in "Half a Day in Halifax" Beth and Roger meet on a cruise ship where their shared lack of enthusiasm for their trip sparks the possibility of romance. Nadelson's stories are sympathetic, heartbreaking, and funny as they investigate the characters' fragile emotional bonds and the fears that often cause those bonds to falter or fail.
From Publishers Weekly: The most authentic pieces in Nadelson's collection of eight careful stories about suburban New Jersey Jews (after Saving Stanley: The Brickman Stories) turn on the inescapable mix of love and destruction in father-son or father-daughter relationships. In "Model Rockets," Nadelson's most affecting story, three well-drawn generations are locked in an uncomfortable familial embrace: Benny tries to protect, control and punish his misfit 16-year-old son, Steven, while his father-in-law-and employer-undermines his authority. But Nadelson overloads the title story, about a 16-year-old girl hemmed in by her widowed father's grief and her boyfriend's clichéd, self-serving romantic fantasies until she arrives at a feminist epiphany that feels unearned. Elsewhere, Nadelson diagrams ugly undercurrents to family dynamics or depicts lonely people yearning to connect while their relationships stall on resentment and self-doubt, as in "Half a Day in Halifax," about a doomed affair between two homely singles on a Carnival cruise. Nadelson bears unflinching witness to his characters' darkness-murderous sibling rivalry, self-loathing, selfishness-but he telegraphs too much. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] LILAH
A FORBIDDEN LOVE, A PEOPLE'S DESTINY
A NOVEL
BY MAREK HALTER
JUNE 2006. CROWN.
From Publishers Weekly: In his final installment of the Canaan Trilogy (Sarah; Zipporah), Halter ambitiously tackles portions of the complicated biblical book of Ezra, which centers on the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple and calls Israel to ethnic and religious purity. In the Persian town of Susa, the beautiful Lilah dreams of marrying her Persian lover and childhood sweetheart, Antinoes. However, her beloved brother Ezra, who has immersed himself in studying the laws of God, refuses to approve of their union since Antinoes is not a Jew. As the story unfolds, with scenes full of rich detail, Lilah becomes the unlikely instrument of gaining royal approval for the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the holy city. However, once there, Ezra orders all non-Jewish wives and children driven away in what is surely one of the most heart-wrenching episodes directly from scripture. A horrified Lilah repudiates her brother and leaves with them. As the cast-off women wander unprotected outside the city, rape, murder and mayhem ensue. (It's confusing that Lilah narrates one violent scene, but readers are unsure how she survives it.) As in Sarah and Zipporah, there is plenty of highly charged sexuality and some imaginative storytelling..... Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] TERRORIST
A novel
By John Updike
JuNE 2006. Knopf
From Publishers Weekly: Ripped from the headlines doesn't begin to describe Updike's latest, a by-the-numbers novelization of the last five years' news reports on the dangers of home-grown terror that packs a gut punch. Ahmad Mulloy Ashmawy is 18 and attends Central High School in the commuter city of New Prospect, N.J. He is the son of an Egyptian exchange student who married a working-class Irish-American girl and then disappeared when Ahmad was three. Ahmad, disgusted by his mother's inability to get it together, is in the thrall of Shaikh Rashid, who runs a storefront mosque and preaches divine retribution for "devils," including the "Zionist dominated federal government."The list of devils is long: it includes Joryleen Grant, the white trash slut with a heart of gold; Tylenol Jones, a black tough guy with whom Ahmad obliquely competes for Joryleen's attentions (which Ahmad eventually pays for);
Jack Levy, a Central High guidance counselor who at 63 has seen enough failure, including his own, to last him a lifetime (and whose Jewishness plays a part in a manner unthinkable before 9/11); Jack's wife, Beth, as ineffectual and overweight (Updike is merciless on this) as she is oblivious;
and Teresa Mulloy, a nurse's aide and Sunday painter as desperate for Jack's attention, when he takes on Ahmad's case, as Jack is for hers. Updike has distilled all their flaws to a caustic, crystalline essence; he dwells on their poor bodies and the debased world in which they move unrelentingly, and with a dispassionate cruelty that verges on shocking. Ahmad's revulsion for American culture doesn't seem to displease Updike one iota. But Updike has also thoroughly digested all of the discursive pap surrounding the post-9/11 threat of terrorism, and that is the real story here. Mullahs, botched CIA gambits, race and class shame (that leads to poor self-worth that leads to vulnerability that leads to extremism), half-baked plots that just might work" all are here, and dispatched with an elegance that highlights their banality and how very real they may be. So smooth is Updike in putting his grotesques through their paces" effortlessly putting them in each others' orbits" that his contempt for them enhances rather than spoils the novel. Click the book cover above to read more.







What is it with Harvard Law grads.. they can't just be attorneys, they also have to write novels:
[book] Anonymous Lawyer
A Novel
by Jeremy Blachman, Esq.
AUGUST 2006. Henry Holt.
I first started to read the ANONYMOUSLAWYER.blogspot blog in 2004, when the author wrote this hilarious posting:
".....You know what I hate? The Jewish holidays. It's defensible to make someone work on their kid's birthday. It's defensible to make them work when their dad's having surgery. It's defensible to make them come back in three weeks after they have a baby. But for some reason, you call it a holiday - and it's not just the Jewish holidays I'm talking about; it's any holiday - and people want to guilt you into letting them take time off. Our clients don't care if it's the American New Year, the Jewish New Year, or the Chinese New Year. I hate hearing that someone wasn't planning on coming into the office on Presidents Day, or Labor Day, or July 4th: what are you celebrating, and why can't you be here? You want an hour off on Christmas Eve to go to mass? I'm willing to let you do that. Two hours to go to temple on Yom Kippur? Fine. I won't schedule the meeting right at sundown. An hour to take your daughter to the doctor for a pregnancy test? I'm willing to be flexible. But you don't need four days off in two weeks for the Jewish holidays, especially right when everyone's getting back into the swing of things after their August vacations; you don't need a 4-day weekend to give thanks for the Pilgrims, especially less a month before Christmas; and you can take your wife out to dinner the day after Valentine's Day when the restaurants are less crowded. Children go to school on their birthdays; you can come to work on George Washington's birthday, Martin Luther King's birthday, and Jesus's birthday...."
Yes, this is the blog of the fictitious hiring partner at one of the world's largest law firms. Brilliant yet ruthless, he has little patience for associates who leave the office before midnight or steal candy from the bowl on his secretary's desk. He hates holidays and paralegals. And he's just started a weblog to tell the world about what life is really like at the top of his profession.
Meet Anonymous Lawyer-corner office, granite desk, and a billable rate of $675 an hour. The summer is about to start, and he's got a new crop of law school interns who will soon sign away their lives for a six-figure salary at the firm. But he's also got a few problems that require his attention. There's The Jerk, his bitter rival at the firm, who is determined to do whatever it takes to beat him out for the chairman's job. There's Anonymous Wife, who is spending his money as fast as he can make it. And there's that secret blog he's writing, which is a perverse bit of fun until he gets an e-mail from someone inside the firm who knows he's its author. Written in the form of a blog, Anonymous Lawyer is a spectacularly entertaining debut that rips away the bland façade of corporate law and offers a telling glimpse inside a frightening world. Hilarious and fiendishly clever, Jeremy Blachman's tale of a lawyer who lives a lie and posts the truth is sure to be one of the year's most talked-about novels. Click the book cover to read more.




[book] The Messenger
A novel by Daniel Silva
AUGUST 2006. Putnam.
Gabriel Allon, art restorer and spy, has been widely acclaimed as one of the most fascinating characters in the genre and now he is about to face the greatest challenge of his life. Allon is recovering from a grueling showdown with a Palestinian master terrorist, when a figure from his past arrives in Jerusalem. Monsignor Luigi Donati is the private secretary to His Holiness Pope Paul VII, and a man as ruthless as he is intelligent. Now, however, he has come to seek Allon's help. A young Swiss guard has been found dead in St. Peter's Basilica, and although Donati has allowed the official inquiry to determine that it is suicide, his instinct tells him that it is murder-and that his master is in grave danger. He has trusted Allon in the past, and he is the only man he trusts now. Allon reluctantly agrees to get involved, but once he begins to investigate he concludes that Donati has every right to be concerned, as, following the trail from the heart of the Vatican to the valleys of Switzerland and beyond, he slowly unravels a conspiracy of lies and deception. An extraordinary enemy walks among them, with but one goal: the most spectacular assassination ever attempted. Filled with remarkable characters and breathtaking double and triple turns of plot, The Messenger solidifies Silva's reputation as his generation's finest writer of international thrillers.
[book] [book]
Click the book covers to read more.




One of our favorite books for late Summer:
[book] Golden Country
A Novel
by Jennifer Gilmore
August 15, 2006. Scribner
Golden Country, Jennifer Gilmore's masterful and irreverent reinvention of the Jewish American novel, captures the exuberance of the American dream while exposing its underbelly -- disillusionment, greed, and the disaffection bred by success. As Gilmore's charmingly flawed characters witness and shape history, they come to embody America's greatness, as well as its greatest imperfections. Spanning the first half of the twentieth century, Golden Country vividly brings to life the intertwining stories of three immigrants seeking their fortunes -- the handsome and ambitious Seymour, a salesman-turned-gangster-turned-Broadway-producer; the gentle and pragmatic Joseph, a door-to-door salesman who is driven to invent a cleanser effective enough to wipe away the shame of his brother's mob connections; and the irresistible Frances Gold, who grows up in Brooklyn, stars in Seymour's first show, and marries the man who invents television. Their three families, though inex-tricably connected for years, are brought together for the first time by the engagement of Seymour's son and Joseph's daughter. David and Miriam's marriage must endure the inheritance of not only their parents' wealth but also the burdens of their past. Epic and comic, poignant and wise, Golden Country introduces readers to an extraordinary new voice in fiction. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] Murder in Jerusalem
A Michael Ohayon Mystery
by Batya Gur
August 1, 2006. HarperCollins
Modern Israel is a place filled with contradictions: the beautiful landscape often rife with human conflict; the tranquil and the peaceful in constant struggle with terrible destruction; and amazing human love and kindness set against a backdrop of civil strife. Through the eyes of a writer like Batya Gur and her finest creation, Chief Superintendent Michael Ohayon, these complexities are treated with an intimate familiarity and rare depth of understanding. When a woman's body is discovered in the wardrobe warehouses of Israel Television, the brooding Ohayon embarks on a tangled and bloody trail of detection through the corridors and studios of Israel's official television station and, especially, through the relations, fears, loves, and courage of the people who make the station what it is. It is a journey that brings into question the very ideals upon which Ohayon -- and indeed the entire nation -- was raised, ideals that may have led to terrible crimes. Chief Superintendent Ohayon has spent his career surrounded by perplexing and horrific cases, but perhaps nothing disturbs him more deeply than what this mysterious woman's murder reveals. For the media, often at the center of the Israeli consciousness -- a place where political tensions; hostility; corruption; and the ethnic, social, and religious divisions that shake the nation come together -- may indeed be at the root of an unspeakable evil. Murder in Jerusalem is the crowning achievement of a magnificent career, this final installment in the Michael Ohayon series a wonderful parting gift from the incomparable Batya Gur -- one last fascinating visit to an always tumultuous land, in the company of a writer and a detective so many devoted readers have loved so well. . Click the book cover to read more.








[book] TOLSTOY LIED
A LOVE STORY
BY RACHEL KADDISH
SEPTEMBER 1, 2006. Houghton Mifflin
FROM THE AUTHOR OF "From a Sealed Room" comes a new story. Tolstoy famously wrote, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." To Tracy Farber, thirty-three, happily single and headed for tenure at a major university, this celebrated maxim is questionable at best. Because if Tolstoy is to be taken at his word, only unhappiness is interesting. Happiness must be as placid and unmemorable as a daisy in a field of a thousand daisies. So Tracy sets out to prove that happiness and the search for happiness can be, must be, a complicated mission. But little does she know that her best proof will come when she meets George, who will sweep her off her feet and challenge all of her old assumptions. Love may be the ultimate cliché, but in Rachel Kadish"s hands, it is also a morally serious question, deserving of our sober attention as well as our delighted laughter. Click the book cover to read more.








[book] Love, with Noodles
An Amorous Widower's Tale
by Harry Freund
September 2006, Carroll & Graf
Stockbroker Dan Gelder (60) has a posh Fifth Avenue address, is two years a widower, and remains faithful to his deceased wife. Numbed by grief, he is annoyed-not flattered-by the attentions of the women introduced to him by friends. Then he meets Violet Finkel. And Susan Klein. And Myra Cox. And Tatiana Andrevsky. Violet tempts him with limitless luxury and then with truly profound affection, which he discovers on a journey with her to Jerusalem. But plumpish, pretty Susan offers him cookies in her kitchen, while Myra, an activist dedicated to the cause - and jewelry - of Native Americans, tests the strength of his lower back. Exotic Tatiana weds beauty to mystery, and grace to pride, as she strives to overcome a Russian immigrant's poverty for herself and her young son. Dan's son, Eric, meanwhile, is facing bankruptcy, which Dan can handle more readily than Eric's marriage proposal to the non-Jewish Carol Hoffman. Forced to examine this unexpected crisis in terms of his own faith and his Jewish heritage, Dan at sixty finds that more than his libido has been renewed. This comic, yet wise, delightful novel views the follies and fallibilities of romance at a certain age-serving up love deliciously, with noodles. Click the book cover to read more.









[book cover click here] [book cover click here] LENNY BRUCE IS DEAD
by Jonathan Goldstein
MARCH 2006, Counterpoint
From Publishers Weekly: Goldstein's woeful, funny debut novel is a series of aphorism-capped vignettes, paced at the rate of approximately one scene per paragraph. As these snapshots flash past, protagonist Josh ages rapidly from child to onanistic teen to depressive adult, mourning the death of his mother and the loss of a series of vividly described girlfriends along the way. Throughout, descriptions of Josh's suburban-anytown Jewish upbringing and job at local fast-food franchise Burger Zoo, while peppered with scatological and Portnoy's Complaint-esque sordidly sexual details, often achieve a level of nuance that's poetic and almost profound. In the latter third of the book, Josh's preoccupation with a Hasidic neighbor and the "Rebbe's Kosher-style Love Lotion" that he begins to experiment with grow repetitive and confusing. But "This American Life" contributing editor Goldstein has a knack for imagery ("He was crying on the floor, pulling toilet paper off the spool with both hands like he was climbing a rope") and ear for hyper-realistic dialogue, making him a writer to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Last Jew
A Novel (Hardcover)
by Yoram Kaniuk, Barbara Harshav
Grove Press March 2006.
Innovative novelist Yoram Kaniuk takes us from the scorched earth of mid-century Europe, to the arid plains of the Holy Land, to the urban bustle of the American Diaspora, compressing the rise and fall of the Jews into the enigmatic character of one Ebenezer Schneerson. Following the ravages of World War II, Ebenezer finds that although he has no recollection of his family or childhood, he can, at will, recite Einstein's theory of relativity, the entire canon of Yiddish poetry, and the genealogical histories of any number of extinguished shtetls; he has somehow become the final repository for all of Jewish culture. Samuel Lipker, a fellow survivor and crass opportunist, makes money off of Ebenezer's macabre talents, trotting him around Europe to regale spooked cabaret audiences with his uncanny memory. Appearing in English for the first time, The Last Jew is an ingenious tapestry alive with narrative acrobatics and stylistic audacity. Alternately tragic, absurd, heartbreaking, and bitter - not unlike the Bible itself - it is a profound exploration of Jewish identity and the multitude of disparate, often contradictory shapes it has taken in the last century. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Mercy Room
A Novel
by Gilles Rozier
Little Brown, March 2006.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* This haunting and, at times, harrowing novel, set in France during the German occupation of the 1940s, is a variation of the Anne Frank story. The narrator lives in a small town, in the family house, where the mother and sister also live; the father is a prisoner of war in Germany. The narrator teaches German at the local school and regards the literature in that language to be the supreme passion of life. That is, until one day when the narrator, awaiting a translation assignment from the local Gestapo agency, lays eyes on an attractive young man--Jewish--who obviously is being taken off. The narrator whisks the young man away and stashes him in the wine cellar of the family home. There the young man lives, hidden away, for more than two years--during which the narrator and he fall in love and have a torrid sexual relationship. But as the end of the war approaches, the young man loses patience with his captivity, and an escape is planned, but things don't go as he and the narrator had outlined. Adding allure to the drama is that the gender of the narrator is never revealed; is this a heterosexual or homosexual affair? We never need to know, for this gripping story transcends such specifics. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Seven Days to the Sea :
An Epic Novel of the Exodus
by Rebecca Kohn
Rugged Land (March 21, 2006)
As a child, Miryam foretells the birth of a leader who will save their people from oppression-a vision so vivid that she dedicates her life to seeing it fulfilled in her brother, Moses. But after many years, she wonders in the deepest confines of her heart if her sacrifices mean anything, if her calling is real. Tzipporah, a desert shepherdess who knows nothing of her husband's divine purpose, suffers as he is torn from her by a strange god, a foreign people, and an unforgiving sister. In her heart, she harbors terrible secrets that haunt the love she shares with Moses and threaten her tenuous peace with Miryam. Together, Miryam and Tzipporah weave a narrative that gives voice to the women of Exodus-their lives, their community, and ultimately, their sisterhood. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] GIRL STORIES
A graphic novel by Lauren Weinstein
APRIL 2006. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers.
Ages 12-19.
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. Weinstein's short, bitterly hilarious stories of teenage-girl angst were a popular feature on gURL.com; this book collects them, along with new material that turns them into a loose narrative of her semiautobiographical protagonist's eighth- and ninth-grade years. "Lauren" is obsessively concerned with her social standing and weight, guilty about still playing with Barbies, fixated on Morrissey, annoyed by being Jewish at Christmas, tormented by a navel piercing gone awry and perplexed by the mystery of boys and why they like her or don't. (It doesn't help that everyone in her school is as cruel as, well, teenagers.) Fortunately, her imagination, her sense of humor and her knack for woe-is-me exaggeration are her escape routes. Weinstein draws her stories with frantic, scraggly lines and eye-scalding neon colors straight off the teenage cosmetics rack. Everything looks crude and distorted on the surface, but her artwork is a lot cleverer and subtler than it initially appears. Weinstein understands the painful immediacy of everything in teenagers' lives-how every success, even in egging a tree, feels like a monumental victory, and every moment of social or academic awkwardness feels like the end of the world-and these anecdotes and images both sympathize with and mock this revelation. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Notebook Girls
by Julia Baskin, Lindsey Newman, Sophie Pollitt-Cohen, Courtney Toombs
APRIL 2006. Warner.
Four young students from NYC's Stuyvesant High School shared a notebook diary. If you ever wanted to be a voyeur, or know what teens actually think about sex or Jewish identity or school or life... this is a must
Julia, Lindsey, Sophie, and Courtney enter Stuyvesant, New York City's most prestigious public high school, in September of 2001, just days before they watch the Twin Towers crumble outside their classroom window. A bond of friendship is struck, and yet demanding class schedules, extracurricular activities, and busy social lives make it hard for them to stay in touch. This prompts the four girls to start "The Notebook," a collective journal'ing project that allows them to express their frustrations, triumphs, and everyday encounters inside an ordinary composition book. Their experiences are not unusual: They get cut from teams, get bad grades, win debates, get rebuffed by boyfriends, plan surprise parties, smoke, drink, experiment with sex, and argue with their parents. But it is the raw honesty of these page-turning exchanges that will captivate readers, involving them in both their individual and group stories, and laying bare what it is really like to be a teenager today. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] BLUE NUDE
A novel by Elizabeth Rosner
APRIL 2006. Ballantine Books.
In this sensual, intimate novel, prizewinning poet and bestselling author Elizabeth Rosner tells the engrossing and timely story of an artist and his model, and the moral and political implications of their relationship. Born in the shadow of postwar Germany, Danzig is a once-prominent painter who now teaches at an art institute in San Francisco. But while Danzig shares wisdom and technique with students, his own canvases remain mysteriously empty. When a compelling new model named Merav poses for his class, Danzig, unsettled by her beauty, senses that she may be the muse he has been waiting for. The Israeli-born granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor, Merav is a former art student who discovered her abilities as a model while studying in Tel Aviv. To escape the danger and violence of the Middle East, she moved to California, where she found work posing for artists around the Bay Area. Now challenged by Danzig's German accent and the menace it suggests, Merav must decide how to overcome her fears. Before they can create anything new together, both artist and model are forced to examine the history they carry. Like a paintbrush in motion, Blue Nude moves back and forth through time, recounting the events that have brought Danzig and Merav together: their disparate upbringings, their creative awakenings, and their similarly painful, often catastrophic, love lives. The novel ultimately unites them in the present and, through the transcendent power of artistic expression, moves them forward to the point of reconciliation, redemption, and revival. Using words to paint the landscapes of body and soul, Elizabeth Rosner conveys the art of survival, the complexity of history, the form of exile, the shape of desire, and the color of intimacy. Blue Nude is the narrative equivalent of a masterpiece of fine art. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Memoirs of a Muse
A Novel
by Lara Vapnyar
APRIL 2006. PANTHEON.
Lara Vapnyar, author of the prizewinning story collection There Are Jews in My House, brings us a poignant and comic first novel about a delightfully sincere modern-day muse. We meet Tanya as a typical Russian girl, living with her bookish professor mother in a drab Soviet apartment. As a teenager, Tanya becomes obsessed with Dostoevsky and settles on her life's calling: she will be the companion to a great writer. Her memoirs tell of her immigration to New York after college, the stifling expectations of her Brighton Beach cousins, and the crucial moment in a bookshop on the Upper West Side, where Tanya attends a reading by Mark Schneider, a Significant New York Novelist. Tanya soon moves in with Mark, ready to dazzle in bed, to serve and inspire . . . if only he would spend a little more time writing and a little less time at the gym, the shrink, and the literary soirees where she feels hopelessly unglamorous and out of place. But as she gradually learns to read English-struggling to better understand Mark's work and her true role as Muse-Tanya also learns more than she expected about the destiny she has imagined for herself. Animated by Vapnyar's beguiling grace and vividness-with a narrative richness reflecting the great tradition of Russian realism to which she is a natural heir-Memoirs of a Muse is an altogether wonderful novel. It is a lively meditation on female capabilities and happiness, on the mysteries of artistic inspiration (and the absurdities of artistic life), and, perhaps most movingly, on the pain and wonder of the immigrant experience in New York City. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Water Door
A Novel (Paperback)
by Rosetta Loy, Gregory Conti (Translator)
2006. OTHER PRESS.
A Garcia Lorca poem gives this book its title, "not even the smallest hand can open the water door," and this epigraph begins a story of unrequited love. A five-year-old girl, the daughter of a bourgeois Roman family in the late 1930s, finds the object of her desire in her German-speaking governess: blond, blue-eyed, milky-white Anne Marie. The story of their relationship spans a single season, as the family moves through its obligatory social rituals. Their customs and manners are all absorbed through the wide-eyed gaze of their little girl making her first contact with the outside world. She encounters kindergarten, the nuns and their baroque Catholicism, and most importantly, a fascinating Jewish girl who lives across the street. Their friendship will change her relationship with her governess forever, especially once the Jewish girl disappears. Loy's rhythmic, sensual prose animates a kaleidoscopic narrative, combining the intimacy of childhood emotions with nightmare glimpses of Fascist Italy during World War II . Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] EVERYMAN
A NOVEL
BY PHILIP ROTH
MAY 2006. HOUGHTON MIFFLIN.
One day your body will die, and take your mind with it. It is a very depersonalizing process.
The book opens with the burial of this unnamed everyman (Everyman, the title, comes from a Christian morality play in which Death pays a visit), a burial in a Jewish cemetery that should be maintained better. It is as rundown as a decaying body. It is in New Jersey. Roth was inspired by the death of his friends, including Saul Bellow; after Bellow's funeral, Roth went home and began to write.
From Publishers Weekly: What is it about Philip Roth? He has published 27 books, almost all of which deal with the same topics-Jewishness, Americanness, sex, aging, family-and yet each is simultaneously familiar and new. His latest novel is a slim but dense volume about a sickly boy who grows up obsessed with his and everybody else's health, and eventually dies in his 70s, just as he always said he would. (I'm not giving anything away here; the story begins with the hero's funeral.) It might remind you of the old joke about the hypochondriac who ordered his tombstone to read: "I told you I was sick." And yet, despite its coy title, the book is both universal and very, very specific, and Roth watchers will not be able to stop themselves from comparing the hero to Roth himself. (In most of his books, whether written in the third person or the first, a main character is a tortured Jewish guy from Newark-like Roth.) The unnamed hero here is a thrice-married adman, a father, and a philanderer. He is a 70-something who spends his last days lamenting his lost prowess (physical and sexual), envying his healthy and beloved older brother, and refusing to apologize for his many years of bad behavior, although he palpably regrets them. Surely some wiseacre critic will note that he is Portnoy all grown up, an amalgamation of all the womanizing, sex- and death-obsessed characters Roth has written about (and been?) throughout his career.But to obsess about the parallels between author and character is to miss the point: like all of Roth's works, even the lesser ones, this is an artful yet surprisingly readable treatise on... well, on being human and struggling and aging at the beginning of the new century. It also borrows devices from his previous works-there's a sequence about a gravedigger that's reminiscent of the glove-making passages in American Pastoral, and many observations will remind careful readers of both Patrimony and The Dying Animal-and through it all, there's that Rothian voice: pained, angry, arrogant and deeply, wryly funny. Nothing escapes him, not even his own self-seriousness. "Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work," he has his adman-turned-art-teacher opine about an annoying student. Obviously, Roth himself is a professional. Click the book cover above to read more.






A HREF=" http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400062985/sefersafarianonl " target="_blank"> [book cover click here] FAITH FOR BEGINNERS
A novel
by Aaron Hamburger
Random House, OCTOBER 4, 2005
From Publishers Weekly: A woman hopes a family trip to Israel will help her reclaim her confused, rebellious son in Hamburger's entertaining, irreverent first novel (after the collection: THE VIEW FROM STALIN'S HEAD). Jeremy's been at NYU for five years, but he's still just a junior, and Helen Michaelson, 58, thinks he might have a much-needed spiritual awakening on the "Michigan Miracle 2000" tour. But while Jeremy's more interested in cruising Jerusalem's gay parks, Helen herself is primed for revelation, as she finds that her connection to Judaism and her family is more complicated than she'd thought. Hamburger has an exacting eye for mundane detail and suburban conventions, and in Jeremy he's created the classic green-haired, pierced college student ranting about social injustice. But beneath Jeremy's sarcastic, moralizing banter, there's a convincing critique of Americans' way of being in the world. In Israel in 2000, the Michaelsons are like Pixar creations trapped in a movie filmed in Super 8-the Middle East may be fraught with political tension, but their biggest problem is the heat outside their air-conditioned bus. Hamburger goes further than witty satire, though, and when the plot takes a dark turn he demonstrates that he's capable of taking on global issues, even if his characters aren't."
Mrs. Michaelson just doesn't seem to get it. Why cant good manners lead to Middle East peace. But what is up with son calling her by her first name. It seems to be just the beginning crack of all that is sacred. If you let him call her Helen, will everything collapse? Also, what the author shows so beautifully, is the state of people who arrive in Israel awaiting epiphanies and idealism, but reality nastily doesn't comply. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] A Good Place for the Night
Stories (Paperback)
by Savyon Liebrecht, Sondra Silverston (Translator)
January 2006, Persea.
Ms. Savyon Liebrecht, one of Israel's most distinguished and popular authors, has won an avid readership in the U. S. for her rich, believable fiction about affairs of the heart. Her newest collection includes seven long stories named for places-Munich, America, Tel Aviv, Hiroshima-and features Israelis abroad, women and men in love and in trouble far away from home. A woman living congenially in Hiroshima for nine years becomes involved in a love triangle with an American and a Japanese, and learns with chilling finality that she can never be at home in this city of the Japanese holocaust. The tables turn on an Israeli journalist, in Munich to cover the trial of a Nazi war criminal, when he becomes a witness to anti-Arab violence and to the murder of a beautiful Muslim woman he has secretly desired. In these searing stories setting becomes an accomplice to fate, and history intrudes into the heat of passion. In the end, A Good Place for the Night makes us realize that we are all wanderers, and the safe haven of "home" is only an idea. Click to read more.






[book] Intuition
A novel
by Allegra Goodman
Dial, February 26, 2006
One of my fave writers, Geraldine Brooks, wrote the following in the Washington Post: "I once spent Shabbat with an Orthodox family in Jerusalem's Kiryat Mattersdorf, a neighborhood where, on Friday evenings, a siren marks the beginning of a 24-hour pause in every human act of creation. Against that looming deadline, my unflappable hostess prepared dinner for 19 -- a tough order in any situation, but even more so when the cook is abiding by the rules of kashrut. Everyone knows that pork isn't kosher, but until that Friday I wasn't aware that "things that swarm" also are off the menu. To make sure that no tiny swarming insect found its way into the meal, she peeled apart and inspected every layer of two dozen onions. Allegra Goodman's new novel, Intuition, revived that memory. Not because Goodman is a famous Jewish-American writer, whose National Book Award finalist Kaaterskill Falls probed deep into a closed world much like Kiryat Mattersdorf. Not because Goodman herself is Orthodox. (She has described herself as "a fairly observant Jew, but a very observant writer.") What brought the memory back to me was the patient handling of the onions, their careful dissection, the attentive scrutiny of layer after layer until the very center had been reached and nothing more could be done. This is the way Goodman handles her characters in Intuition. Every character here -- even the relatively minor ones, even the relatives of minor ones -- is endowed by their creator with the fullest complements of flaws, tics, vices, strengths, virtues and moments of nobility. Just when we think we know her self-promoting, hard-charging oncologist Sandy Glass, just when we are smirking contemptuously at him, Goodman peels back another layer and invites us to peer harder. We find ourselves looking at a loyal chevalier whose capacity for devotion to a colleague wipes the smirk off our face. It works in reverse with another character, Jacob, husband to Glass's exacting scientific partner, Marion Mendelssohn. Jacob has put his own brilliance at the service of his wife's career and seems the model of modest self-sacrifice. Yet he's gradually revealed as a secret manipulator who, with a few careful words, will set in motion the events that threaten his wife's reputation and the existence of her research lab. But it is not a simple matter of "people are not what they seem." Goodman doesn't stop. Sandy Glass has many more layers, and so does Jacob Mendelssohn. So does everybody.... .. continued... ... click the book cover to read more
From Publishers Weekly. "In another quiet but powerful novel from Goodman (Kaaterskill Falls), a struggling cancer lab at Boston's Philpott Institute becomes the stage for its researchers' personalities and passions, and for the slippery definitions of freedom and responsibility in grant-driven American science. When the once-discredited R-7 virus, the project of playboy postdoc Cliff, seems to reduce cancerous tumors in mice, lab director Sandy Glass insists on publishing the preliminary results immediately, against the advice of his more cautious codirector, Marion Mendelssohn. The research team sees a glorious future ahead, but Robin, Cliff's resentful ex-girlfriend and co-researcher, suspects that the findings are too good to be true and attempts to prove Cliff's results are in error. The resulting inquiry spins out of control. With subtle but uncanny effectiveness, Goodman illuminates the inner lives of each character, depicting events from one point of view until another section suddenly throws that perspective into doubt. The result is an episodically paced but extremely engaging novel that reflects the stops and starts of the scientific process, as well as its dependence on the complicated individuals who do the work. In the meantime, she draws tender but unflinching portraits of the characters' personal lives for a truly humanist novel from the supposedly antiseptic halls of science." Click to read more reviews.




[book] Prince of Fire
A novel by Daniel Silva
Signet. Paperback edition. February 2006.
BOTH A THRILLER AND A HISTORY LESSON
PW writes: Silva's latest novel to feature art restorer/Israeli agent Gabriel Allon (after 2004's A Death in Vienna) is a passionate, intelligently crafted entry that cements the series' place among today's top spy fiction. The structure is classic - the semireluctant spy, Gabriel, is pulled from his cover to hunt down terrorists who have committed a horrific crime, in this case the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome. The mastermind behind the bombing is French archeologist Paul Martineau, aka "Khaled, son of Sabri, grandson of Sheikh Asad. Khaled, avenger of past wrongs, sword of Palestine." Orphaned as a child after his father is killed by the Israelis, Khaled is also the adopted son of Yasir Arafat, who has now activated Khaled to wreak vengeance on his mortal enemies. Gabriel assembles a team of crack young agents and sets out to find when and where Khaled will strike next. The determined team tracks down the terrorist, but when Gabriel goes in for the kill the plot takes a stunning twist; the lives of all, plus hundreds of innocent bystanders, are threatened. Gabriel is a complex character with a rich past. His wife, Leah, is confined to a psychiatric hospital in London, mentally damaged and physically disfigured from the bombing that killed their son. He lives with the beautiful Chiara, whom he can't marry out of loyalty to Leah, even though she seems to barely know him. Silva hints at further entries in the series in which Gabriel must step up and assume new duties: "Gabriel, you are the mightiest," his former mentor tells the agent. "You're the one who defends Israel against its accusers. You're the angel of judgment - the Prince of Fire." Click to read more.







[book cover click here] Jetlag
by Etgar Keret
FEBRUARY 2006, TOBY PRESS
From Publishers Weekly: First published as a limited edition in 1999, this anthology presents five short stories by popular Israeli author Keret adapted into comics by the five members of the Actus Tragicus collective. Keret's tales are brief, surreal fables that set up a witty premise and then end fairly abruptly. In the opening "HaTrick" (drawn by Batia Kolton), a children's magician, attempting to pull a rabbit out of his hat, pulls out the rabbit's severed head; when he tries it again, he withdraws a dead baby. Unfortunately for the artists, these stories are built more on suggestion than on action. In a few cases, literal representations of the story kill its mystique-particularly the title piece, drawn by Itzik Rennert, in which a man on an airplane (next to an evil dwarf disguised as a little girl) realizes that the flight attendant has fallen in love with him and plans to save him from a terrible fate. Only Mira Friedmann's visual elaboration on "Passage to Hell," which incorporates a good deal of pantomime that Keret doesn't mention in his text, adds much to its story. But the artwork is consistently terrific in its own right-the Actus group's stately compositions and calculated distortions owe more to modern art than to the comics tradition. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] THE WOMEN'S MINYAN
A novel
BY NAOMI RAGEN
March 2006, Toby Press.
Her many fans will welcome the publication of Naomi Ragen's first play, which premiered in July 2002 at Habima National Theater in Tel Aviv. It is based on a true story: a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) woman, wife of a rabbi, mother of 12, leaves her home and stays with a friend. The community's "modesty squad" tries in vain to force her to go back. Her friend is physically attacked, her arm and leg broken. The rabbi's wife is punished: she is cut off from her children, against her will. Novelist Ragen learned of this tragic story several years ago from a newspaper article. "We've been together ever since then," she says. "They simply crushed this wonderful woman who never committed any crime. It's not a melodrama. It's a story of social truth, like Ibsen's A Doll's House. "I tried to write a play about the status of the Jewish woman in the strictly Orthodox world," continues Ragen. "The religious woman does not have any public place in which she can express her opinions in a natural fashion. Conversely, every man can say whatever he wants from the platform of the synagogue, on any subject, including current events; religious women have never had access to it. In synagogue, we pray upstairs in the women's section, while the men get up and say what they want to the entire congregation. Why shouldn't the woman have the same right? Is she less intelligent? Does she have fewer interesting things to say?" .... Click to read more.









[book] Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes
by T. Cooper ( a Koret finalist in 2004)
Dutton Adult (March 16, 2006).
NOTE: When Ms. Cooper's grandparents arrived at Ellis Island, they actually DID lose a child, and never found him. They moved on. Part of his grandparents family ended up in Amarillo, Texas, part of the Galveston Movement of sending Jews to the hinterlands.
Epic, ambitious, heartbreaking, and wholly original, T Cooper's Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes is a literary tour de force that spans the twentieth century with one family's search for a lost son. In Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes, author T Cooper chronicles the unusual history of the Lipshitz family, Jewish refugees who narrowly escape the bloody Russian pogroms of 1903. Upon landing at Ellis Island, Esther and Hersh Lipshitz lose their uncharacteristically blond-haired, blue-eyed son Reuven. Circumstances eventually force them to give up their fruitless search for Reuven and to join a relative living in the Texas panhandle. However, Esther never stops pondering the fate of her lost son, and when she sees a picture of the blond, blue-eyed Charles Lindbergh after his 1927 transatlantic flight, she becomes convinced that the aviator is her grown son Reuven. Esther's obsession with Lindbergh (Reuven) slowly destroys those around her and will leave far-reaching effects on the entire Lipshitz family. In 2002 in New York City, we encounter the character T Cooper, the last living Lipshitz, who has received an unsolicited box from his estranged mother. In it, he finds clippings and letters to Charles Lindbergh and his family, all once carefully preserved by his great-grandmother Esther. When he is forced back to Texas to bury his suddenly and tragically deceased parents, T finds himself the inheritor of a family history filled with loose ends, factual errors, and maniacal behavior. An ex-literary golden boy who has quit writing to pursue a career as a bar mitzvah entertainer who impersonates the rapper Eminem, T struggles to make sense of all that came before him and-in light of his wife's desire to have a baby-what legacy he might leave behind as well. Click to read more.




[book cover click here] [book cover click here] LENNY BRUCE IS DEAD
by Jonathan Goldstein
MARCH 2006, Counterpoint
From Publishers Weekly: Goldstein's woeful, funny debut novel is a series of aphorism-capped vignettes, paced at the rate of approximately one scene per paragraph. As these snapshots flash past, protagonist Josh ages rapidly from child to onanistic teen to depressive adult, mourning the death of his mother and the loss of a series of vividly described girlfriends along the way. Throughout, descriptions of Josh's suburban-anytown Jewish upbringing and job at local fast-food franchise Burger Zoo, while peppered with scatological and Portnoy's Complaint-esque sordidly sexual details, often achieve a level of nuance that's poetic and almost profound. In the latter third of the book, Josh's preoccupation with a Hasidic neighbor and the "Rebbe's Kosher-style Love Lotion" that he begins to experiment with grow repetitive and confusing. But "This American Life" contributing editor Goldstein has a knack for imagery ("He was crying on the floor, pulling toilet paper off the spool with both hands like he was climbing a rope") and ear for hyper-realistic dialogue, making him a writer to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Last Jew
A Novel (Hardcover)
by Yoram Kaniuk, Barbara Harshav
Grove Press March 2006.
Innovative novelist Yoram Kaniuk takes us from the scorched earth of mid-century Europe, to the arid plains of the Holy Land, to the urban bustle of the American Diaspora, compressing the rise and fall of the Jews into the enigmatic character of one Ebenezer Schneerson. Following the ravages of World War II, Ebenezer finds that although he has no recollection of his family or childhood, he can, at will, recite Einstein's theory of relativity, the entire canon of Yiddish poetry, and the genealogical histories of any number of extinguished shtetls; he has somehow become the final repository for all of Jewish culture. Samuel Lipker, a fellow survivor and crass opportunist, makes money off of Ebenezer's macabre talents, trotting him around Europe to regale spooked cabaret audiences with his uncanny memory. Appearing in English for the first time, The Last Jew is an ingenious tapestry alive with narrative acrobatics and stylistic audacity. Alternately tragic, absurd, heartbreaking, and bitter - not unlike the Bible itself - it is a profound exploration of Jewish identity and the multitude of disparate, often contradictory shapes it has taken in the last century. Click to read more.







[book] The Mercy Room
A Novel
by Gilles Rozier
Little Brown, March 2006.
From Booklist: *Starred Review* This haunting and, at times, harrowing novel, set in France during the German occupation of the 1940s, is a variation of the Anne Frank story. The narrator lives in a small town, in the family house, where the mother and sister also live; the father is a prisoner of war in Germany. The narrator teaches German at the local school and regards the literature in that language to be the supreme passion of life. That is, until one day when the narrator, awaiting a translation assignment from the local Gestapo agency, lays eyes on an attractive young man--Jewish--who obviously is being taken off. The narrator whisks the young man away and stashes him in the wine cellar of the family home. There the young man lives, hidden away, for more than two years--during which the narrator and he fall in love and have a torrid sexual relationship. But as the end of the war approaches, the young man loses patience with his captivity, and an escape is planned, but things don't go as he and the narrator had outlined. Adding allure to the drama is that the gender of the narrator is never revealed; is this a heterosexual or homosexual affair? We never need to know, for this gripping story transcends such specifics. Click to read more.







[book] Seven Days to the Sea :
An Epic Novel of the Exodus
by Rebecca Kohn
Rugged Land (March 21, 2006)
As a child, Miryam foretells the birth of a leader who will save their people from oppression-a vision so vivid that she dedicates her life to seeing it fulfilled in her brother, Moses. But after many years, she wonders in the deepest confines of her heart if her sacrifices mean anything, if her calling is real. Tzipporah, a desert shepherdess who knows nothing of her husband's divine purpose, suffers as he is torn from her by a strange god, a foreign people, and an unforgiving sister. In her heart, she harbors terrible secrets that haunt the love she shares with Moses and threaten her tenuous peace with Miryam. Together, Miryam and Tzipporah weave a narrative that gives voice to the women of Exodus-their lives, their community, and ultimately, their sisterhood. Click to read more.







[book] DAYS OF ATONEMENT
A novel
By Ellen Boneparth
2005.
The story of a contemporary Jewish woman's search for her roots against the backdrop of the Greek Holocaust. Baka Freeman unearths never before told stories of Greek Jewish suffering and terror while searching for her roots. Click to read more about this book.






[book] THE NIMROD FLIPOUT
by ETGAR KERET. Translated from Hebrew
April 2006. FSG.
Already featured on This American Life and Selected Shorts and in Zoetrope: All Story and L.A. Weekly, these short stories include a man who finds equal pleasure in his beautiful girlfriend and the fat, soccer-loving lout she turns into after dark; shrinking parents; a case of impotence cured by a pet terrier; and a pessimistic Middle Eastern talking fish. A bestseller in Israel, The Nimrod Flipout is an extraordinary collection from the preeminent Israeli writer of his generation. Click to read more.






[book cover click here] The World to Come
A novel
by Dara Horn
January 2006, WW Norton
In 2005, a million-dollar painting, a sketch for "Over Vitebsk" by Marc Chagall, is stolen from a museum - during a singles' cocktail hour. The unlikely thief is Benjamin Ziskind, a lonely former child-prodigy who writes questions for quiz shows, and who believes the painting belongs to his family. Ben tries to evade the police while he seeks out the truth of how the painting got to the museum - whether the "original" is really a forgery - and whether his twin sister, an artist, can create a successful forgery to take its place. As the story unfolds - with the delicacy and complexity of origami - we are brought back to the 1920s in Soviet Russia, where Marc Chagall taught art to orphaned Jewish boys. There, Chagall befriended the great Yiddish novelist known by the pseudonym "Der Nister," the Hidden One. And there the story of the painting begins, carrying with it not only a hidden fable by the Hidden One, but also the story of the Ziskind family - from Russia to New Jersey and Vietnam. Dara Horn interweaves mystery, romance, folklore, theology, history, and scripture into a spellbinding modern tale. She brings us on a breathtaking collision course of past, present, and future - revealing both the ordinariness and the beauty of "the world to come." Nestling stories within stories, this is a novel of remarkable clarity and deep inner meaning. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book cover click here] Matches
A Novel
by Alan Kaufman
October 23, 2005
I have been attracted to Kaufman's writing since he did TattooJew, and JewBoy. I always think of how he would make minyans for a collection of some very unique older Jewish San Franciscans. I am therefore looking forward to reading Matches. I have it in my hand.. but just have to place it in the pile of next books to read,
From Publishers Weekly: The title is an Israeli army term for a soldier, or one who "strikes, burns, and dies." Nathan Falk, an American-born Jew and the son of a Holocaust survivor, arrives in Israel seeking "for once, to be generally human, immersed in a kinky-haired majority"-and to do the three years of regular military service and subsequent one-month-a-year reserve duty required of every Israeli male. The narrative falls into 13 Israel Defense Forces patrol vignettes, centered by one novella-size chapter that follows Falk's affair with his best friend's alcoholic girlfriend, along with the honor killing of a 17-year-old Bedouin girl by a man in Falk's (very multi-culti) unit. Throughout, Kaufman (Jew Boy), an American Jew who did multiple IDF tours and now lives in San Francisco, sketches the fault lines of Israeli society as heightened by the highly charged, often violent patrols in the West Bank and Gaza: Sephardic vs. Ashkenazi; native vs. emigré; Arab vs. Jew. The political turmoil, ruined relationships, coiled anger and psychological damage the patrols leave in their wake is made vivid-and personal-at every turn, as are IDF procedures and moments of unexpected cooperation across borders. As a novel, it's baggy, but the result gives readers a fascinating look at the story behind the numbing newspaper tallies. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] A Time to Run
A Novel
by Barbara Boxer (U.S. Senator, D, CA) with Mary-Rose Hayes
PANTHEON, OCTOBER 2005
Written with a true insider's perspective, A Time to Run is the remarkable literary debut of United States Senator Barbara Boxer, one of the most admired and respected figures on the political scene. Senator Boxer, writing with Mary-Rose Hayes, tells an exciting tale of friendship and betrayal, idealism and pragmatism, in-fighting and public spin. The novel follows Ellen Fines from her days as a college student through romantic entanglements and a difficult marriage to a rising political star. When her husband is killed in a car accident during his campaign for the Senate, Ellen assumes his candidacy and achieves an upset victory over a political machine. On the eve of a crucial vote, past and public worlds collide when Ellen's former lover, now a journalist with strong right-wing connections, gives her sensitive documents that could either make or break her career. From hideaways deep under the U.S. Capitol to wealthy southern California ranches to the political unrest on the streets of Berkeley, lA Time to Run is a great read, and a fascinating, up-close story of power and trust. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book cover click here] Mrs. Freud
A Novel
by Nicolle Rosen
Arcade Publishing (October 10, 2005)
From Booklist: *Starred Review* In this compelling and painstakingly researched novel, Rosen, a psychiatrist herself, delivers an intimate and telling fictional portrait of Sigmund Freud, as seen through the eyes of his wife, Martha. Rosen allows Freud's aging widow to turn the tables on her famous husband by retrospectively analyzing the twists in the psyche that dominated her life for more than five decades. Through private recollection and through increasingly revelatory letters to an American correspondent, Martha begins to piece together the scattered memories of a marital life often made difficult by the unacknowledged dark spots in her husband's powerful mind. Bit by bit, this long-overawed wife starts to discern the evidence of an irrational mysticism lacing her husband's science; of a curious vulnerability to superstition permeating his hostility to all religion, especially his inherited Judaism; and of a gargantuan ego that resented the slightest show of autonomy by colleagues or family members. But as Martha gropes her way through cloudy memories--innocent of any of the psychoanalytic theories incubated under her roof--it is not finally her husband but herself who comes into focus: a woman whose real talent and intellect were denied any expression by a tyrant who styled himself a revolutionary. A historical novel of exceptional power. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book cover click here] NOT ME
A Novel by Michael Lavigne
November 2005, Random House
Donna Seaman, writing in Booklist, states: "*Starred Review* Lavigne carves a new portal into the depthless mystery of the Holocaust, writing insightfully and imaginatively about the survival instinct and the thorny love between fathers and sons in a debut even more accomplished than Nicole Krauss' much-hailed Holocaust novel The History of Love (2005). Michael Rosenheim, a smart and endearingly self-deprecating stand-up comic, hides within a fortress of jokes in the wake of the early deaths of his sister and mother and his divorce. Now Heshel, his father, is in a Florida nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's. Holed up in his father's Judaica-festooned apartment, Michael feels as though he has gone through the looking glass as he starts reading a set of old journals. Lavigne alternates with increasing drama between the ruefully funny "live" scenes and the utter hell the blunt diarist describes in chronicling the life of Heinrich Mueller, an SS death camp accountant. As the Allies approach, he steals the identity of a dead Jewish inmate named Heshel Rosenheim and ends up in Israel, where Holocaust survivors fight heroically for a homeland. Performing a phenomenal balancing act between light and dark, past and present, guilt and forgiveness, Lavigne sets in motion profoundly complex moral dilemmas in a vivid, all-consuming, paradoxical, and quintessentially human story."
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[book cover click here] LIBERATION
A Novel (Hardcover)
by JOANNA SCOTT
Little Brown (November 2005)
From Publishers Weekly: The morning after her 70th birthday party, attended by her dutiful husband and children, Adriana Rundel takes a commuter train from suburban New Jersey to Manhattan, and becomes lost in memories of her WWII girlhood as a Jew in hiding on the Italian isle of Elba. Stealing glances from her hideout in the cupboard, she finds her first love, a young AWOL Senegalese soldier named Amdu Diop, who takes refuge in her family's home during the Allied push toward liberation. He is 17; she is 10. Theirs is an innocent infatuation rather than an intense affair, but that seems to be precisely what Scott (The Manikin) is after: "The truth was she liked Amdu because he was perfectly alive.... She just felt it, the way she felt the warmth of the sun." Their attachment is lovely, but doesn't provide much dramatic lift. And the heart attack Adriana suffers on the train ride into the city, which intermingles her childhood panic with her later-life mortal fear, is less a plot device than a means for integrating the vivid past with the dull present. Still, Scott accomplishes large shifts in time and perspective with grace, and delivers an affecting, unsentimental portrait of a survivor taking stock of her life and loves. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Christ the Lord : Out of Egypt
A novel by Anne Rice
NOVEMBER 2005, Knopf Books
A Jewish book?? Well.. it sure will be a best seller, and no vampires are contained in the pages.
PW writes: "Rice departs from her usual subject matter to pen this curious portrait of a seven-year-old Jesus, who departs Egypt with his family to return home to Nazareth. Rice's painstaking historical research is obvious throughout, whether she's showing the differences among first-century Jewish groups (Pharisees, Essenes and Sadducees all play a part), imagining a Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem or depicting the regular but violent rebellions by Jews chafing under Roman rule. The book succeeds in capturing Jesus' profound Jewishness, with some of the best scenes reflecting his Torah education and immersion in the oral traditions of the Hebrew Bible. As fiction, though, the book's first half is slow going. Since it is told from Jesus' perspective, the childlike language can be simplistic, though as readers persevere they will discover the riches of the sparse prose Rice adopts. The emotional heart of the story-Jesus' gradual discovery of the miraculous birth his parents have never discussed with him-picks up steam as well, as he begins to understand why he can heal the sick and raise the dead. Rice provides a moving afterword, in which she describes her recent return to the Catholic faith and evaluates, often in an amusingly strident fashion, the state of biblical studies today." Click the book cover above to read more.





[book cover click here] Love, with Noodles
An Amorous Widower's Tale
A novel by Harry Freund
September 2005.
Stockbroker Dan Gelder (60) has a posh Fifth Avenue address, is two years a widower, and remains faithful to his deceased wife. Numbed by grief, he is annoyed-not flattered-by the attentions of the women introduced to him by friends. Then he meets Violet Finkel. And Susan Klein. And Myra Cox. And Tatiana Andrevsky. Violet tempts him with limitless luxury and then with truly profound affection, which he discovers on a journey with her to Jerusalem. But plumpish, pretty Susan offers him cookies in her kitchen, while Myra, an activist dedicated to the cause - and jewelry - of Native Americans, tests the strength of his lower back. Exotic Tatiana weds beauty to mystery, and grace to pride, as she strives to overcome a Russian immigrant's poverty for herself and her young son. Dan's son, Eric, meanwhile, is facing bankruptcy, which Dan can handle more readily than Eric's marriage proposal to the non-Jewish Carol Hoffman. Forced to examine this unexpected crisis in terms of his own faith and his Jewish heritage, Dan at sixty finds that more than his libido has been renewed. This comic, yet wise, delightful novel views the follies and fallibilities of romance at a certain age-serving up love deliciously, with noodles. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book cover click here] You Are SO Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah!
by Fiona Rosenbloom
Hyperion (September 7, 2005)
Stacy Friedman is getting ready for one of the most important events of her young life­ -- her bat mitzvah! All she wants is the perfect BCBG dress to wear, her friends by her side, and her biggest crush ever, Andy Goldfarb, to dance with her (and maybe even make out with her on the dance floor). But Stacy's plans soon start to fall apart. . . . Her stressed-out mother forces her to buy a hideous beaded sequined dress that she wouldn't be caught dead in. Her mitzvahs are not going at all well. And then the worst thing in the entire world happens -- Stacy catches her best friend, Lydia, making out with Andy! And thus she utters the words that will wreak complete havoc on her social life . . . You are so not invited to my bat mitzvah! Fiona Rosenbloom was born and bred in Rye, New York. When she is not writing, Fiona likes to design and sew her own clothes. If she had her own line, she would call it Fabloom. Unlike the protagonist in this novel, Fiona had little-to-no say about her bat mitzvah dress. Regardless, she still speaks to her mother. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book cover click here] Goodnight Nobody
A Novel
by Jennifer Weiner
Atria (September 2005)
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner's newest novel tells the story of a young mother's move to a postcard-perfect Connecticut town and the secrets she uncovers there. For Kate Klein, a semi-accidental mother of three, suburbia's been full of unpleasant surprises. Her once-loving husband is hardly ever home. The supermommies on the playground routinely snub her. Her days are spent carpooling and enduring endless games of Candy Land, and at night, most of her orgasms are of the do-it-yourself variety. When a fellow mother is murdered, Kate finds that the unsolved mystery is one of the most interesting things to happen in Upchurch since her neighbors broke ground for a guesthouse and cracked their septic tank. Even though Kate's husband and the police chief warn her that crime-fighting's a job best left to professionals, she can't let it go. So Kate launches an unofficial investigation -- from 8:45 to 11:30 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, when her kids are in nursery school -- with the help of her hilarious best friend, carpet heiress Janie Segal, and Evan McKenna, a former flame she thought she'd left behind in New York City. As the search for the killer progresses, Kate is drawn deeper into the murdered woman's double life. She discovers the secrets and lies behind Upchurch's placid picket-fence facade -- and the choices and compromises all modern women make as they navigate between independence and obligation, small towns and big cities, being a mother and having a life of one's own. Engrossing, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny, Goodnight Nobody is another unputdownable, timely tale; an insightful mystery with a great heart and a narrator you'll never forget. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Winkler
by Giles Coren
September 2005, J. Cape
BRIT LIT. A comic account of a man's search for meaning, identity and a suitable response to the burden of history; Coren's examination of the nature of Jewishness (and, incidentally, of Englishness), of the lies we tell to survive and the stresses of urban life, is irreverent, funny, provocative and brave. Click the book cover above to read more.









I thought this was party in the BLINTZ ! Oops... it is the Blitz

[book cover click here][book cover click here] PARTY IN THE BLITZ
The English Years (Hardcover)
by Elias Canetti
September 2005, New Directions Publishing Corporation
"It is time for me to turn to England again, for I sense how these memories gradually fade, and it would be a pity if nothing remained of forty years in that country" Exceedingly perceptive, at times amusing and always unpredictable, this autobiography of Nobel Prize winner Elias Canetti is a fascinating and enjoyable read. Canetti spent many years in London, beginning in 1939, and during which time he moved in elite circles, numbering the great writers, artists, thinkers and politicians of the time among his friends and acquaintances. In this beautifully written and often sensational collection of portraits of those who were meaningful in his life, Canetti is an honest observer of the personalities of those around him: of T.S. Eliot (whom he detested); of Iris Murdoch (with whom he had a torrid affair) and of the English themselves (whose stiff upper lip he both admired and disparaged). His style is at times staccato, at times elaborately philosophical, but always displays the author's sharp-tongued wit and intelligence. A challenging and rewarding read from the man John Bayley called "the godmonster of Hampstead", this is bound to cause a stir.
Elias Canetti arrived in England in 1939, fleeing Hitler, with his wife and (soon) two mistresses. He was known in his adoptive Vienna for a single novel Auto-da-Fé, a black comedy of justified paranoia and misogyny. In England he boasted one reader only, sinologist Arthur Waley. His first three autobiographies - which helped win him the 1981 Nobel prize for literature - chronicle Viennese literary life between the wars. Now, 11 years after his death in Zürich, here are his memoirs of the war years in England. Despite carelessnesses - Herzog von Northumberland stays in German; Margaret Gardiner and JD Bernal were unmarried; it was not Churchill who lost India - they are splendidly entertaining. Canetti's method is to string together small scenes, like beads, into a continuing story. Here are vignettes of London in 1940, of life among Amersham and Hampstead expatriates, of awful war-time parties. Downshire Hill was a street to delight in. His mistress Friedl's lodgings at number 35 had a private gallery of Ben Nicolsons and Hepworths; Mountbatten visited; Lee Miller and Roland Penrose, who had organised the International Surrealist Exhibition, lived diagonally opposite at number 21. And Canetti, unencumbered by any war work, was free to survey the battle of Britain from the Heath...
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[book cover click here] The Vanishing Man
(Paperback)
by Aaron Bushkowsky
Cormorant Books, Summer 2005
The Vanishing Man is a collection of linked short stories about a man trying to come to terms with his past, a religious upbringing, in an ever-changing personal world that constantly throws him into self-doubt. He marries, finds happiness, only to go through a terrible divorce. He recovers, finds true love, marries, and goes through another terrible divorce and family death. He goes into therapy and tries to make sense of his failures and unhappiness by attempting to reclaim his past life. But this only partly succeeds. It's not until the man discovers his true self that he is finally able to find hope, and his love of life again. This is a book about faith, families, and the meaning of love, told from a distinctly masculine point of view. The men in these stories are often defined by what they don't say, what they do instead, and how they react to each other between the lies and between the lines. They are often right about everything except themselves and it's within this hazy, poetic world of self-doubt that the narrator of the stories lives and breathes. Aaron lives in Vancouver, where he teaches playwriting and filmwriting at Langara College, Studio 58, Playwrights Theatre Centre, and at the Vancouver Film Centre. The Vanishing Man is Aaron's first book of prose Click the book cover above to read more.







[book cover click here] The Doll with the Yellow Star
by Yona Zeldis McDonough, Kimberly Bulcken Root (Illustrator)
Schwartz Henry Holt, September 2005
Ages 9 - 12
Nine-year-old Claudine doesn't want to leave her much-loved home in France to go live in America, not without her parents. But she knows about the shortages, about the yellow stars Jews must wear, and about Adolf Hitler. And she knows that there are some things she needs to do even when she doesn't want to. It's wartime, and there is much that is different now. There are more things that Claudine will lose to this terrible war. But not everything that is lost must be lost forever. Here is a moving story about lost and found lives, and the healing power of love. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book cover click here] The Man from Beyond
A Novel (Hardcover)
by Gabriel Brownstein
Norton (September 2005)
From Publishers Weekly: Inspired by the complex relationship between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the celebrated author and champion of spiritualism, and Harry Houdini, the famed magician and escape artist, Brownstein's uneven first novel reimagines the consequences of the séance, held in 1922 after a chance meeting on the New Jersey shore, in which the spirit-writing Lady Doyle delivered a message from Houdini's late mother to her skeptical son. While the author does a good job of getting inside the heads of his two historical protagonists with their opposing philosophies, much of the story focuses on the admirable but less interesting 22-year-old Molly Goodman, an intrepid reporter who follows the two great men's activities. In a vivid scene, after Houdini barely escapes from a locked box under the Hudson far down river from where he was supposed to emerge, he realizes that, like Sherlock Holmes after surviving his struggle with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, everyone believes he's dead. After this delicious twist, however, the story rushes to a hasty climax involving an insufficiently developed villain. Brownstein's story collection, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W (2002), won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Heir to the Glimmering World
A novel
by Cynthia Ozick
Mariner, September 2005
Cynthia Ozick has been known for decades as one of America's most gifted and extraordinary storytellers; her remarkable new novel has established her as one of the most entertaining as well. Set in the New York of the 1930s, Heir to the Glimmering World is a spellbinding, richly plotted novel brimming with intriguing characters. Orphaned at eighteen, with few possessions, Rose Meadows finds steady employment with the Mitwisser clan. Recently arrived from Berlin, the Mitwissers rely on the auspices of a generous benefactor, James A'Bair, the discontented heir to a fortune his father, a famous childen's author, made from a series of books called The Bear Boy. Against the vivid backdrop of a world in tumult, Rose learns the refugee family's secrets as she watches their fortunes rise and fall in Ozick's wholly engrossing novel. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book cover click here] Mandrakes from the Holy Land (Hardcover)
by Aharon Megged
September 2005. Toby Press.
Israeli novelist Megged sets his historically rich epistolary and diary-based novel (after Foiglman) in turn-of-the-century Palestine, then mostly a backwater of small Arab villages and start-up Jewish farming settlements. In 1906, Englishwoman Beatrice Campbell-Bennett, a devout Christian and frustrated lesbian, travels to the Holy Land ostensibly to paint biblical flowers, but her true goal is to "purify" herself. The child of a prosperous but unhappy family, she fraternized with the famous Bloomsbury group of intellectuals, falling in love with Vanessa Stephen, Virginia Woolf's sister. In her quest to explore what she calls "this land of wonders," the fiercely independent Beatrice hires a young Arab guide named Aziz, with whom she develops an increasingly tense relationship. She also spends time with the famous Zionist pioneer Aaron Aaronsohn and his attractive younger sister, Sarah, until her conflicting emotions-and ecstatic religiosity-threaten to completely overwhelm her. Megged annotates the letters and diary entries with notes by a Dr. P.D. Morrison, a psychologist hired by Beatrice's parents to examine her mental state, and his rather hilarious Freudian commentary adds a sharp satirical edge. This, plus Megged's graceful use of biblical history and evocation of early Zionist culture makes for a learned, compelling book. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book cover click here] The Living on the Dead
By Aharon Megged
September 2005. Toby Press.
The Living on the Dead is the history of a book that has not been written. Its central theme is the debt of the living to the dead, and in particular the effects on the heirs of Israel of their new and dearly bought nationality. Jonas is a writer, on trial for breach of contract. Commissioned to write the biography of a national hero, Davidov, he has after eighteen months and thousands of pounds of payment produced not a word. Despite the mountains of research and testimonies, he is oppressed and even rebuked by his subject's sanctity... even when he perceives that the idol's feet are of clay. He simply cannot write the book of the legend of Davidov. Translated from the Hebrew Ha Chai Al Ha Met by Misha Louvish. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book cover click here] A Wall of Light
a novel
by EDEET RAVEL
August 2005, HarperCollins
Following on the heels of the critically acclaimed Ten Thousand Lovers (finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award) and Look for Me (winner of the Hugh MacLennan Prize), this last book of the Tel Aviv trilogy tells the poignant, humorous and heartbreaking story of three generations of an Israeli family. "I am Sonya Vronsky, professor of mathematics at Tel Aviv University, and this is the story of a day in late August. On this remarkable day I kissed a student, pursued a lover, found my father, and left my brother." So begins Edeet Ravel's captivating novel, which follows Sonya on a life-changing journey that leads her to the heart of Jerusalem, and to the heart of family secrets.
[book cover click here] [book cover click here]
Her day begins as any other, with an elaborate breakfast prepared by her brother. Kostya has always been the centre of their family, working part-time so he can look after everyone and trying to keep things in order - a near-impossible task in a place like Tel Aviv. His wife, a lawyer, is murdered in the course of an investigation she is conducting. His son, Noah, leaves Israel after his stint in the army to pursue art studies in Berlin. And his mother, formerly an actress and waitress at the famous Cassit café of bohemian Tel Aviv, loses her memory and is taken to a nursing home. Sonya is the only one left for Kostya to hover over and cook for. But her Sleeping Beauty existence comes abruptly to an end when she is roused by a kiss. Not only does she discover love, but she realizes that her family, who had promised to give her all they had, has kept the most valuable gift from her.
Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt
by Ruth Andrew Ellenson
Dutton Adult (August 18, 2005)
A hilarious and provocative collection of original essays by some of today's top Jewish women writers-including Aimee Bender, Daphne Merkin, and Rebecca Walker-exploring all the things that their rabbis warned them never to discuss in public. Have you ever heard a grandmother's biological clock tick? Are you certain that a piano is about to fall on your head, simply because too many good things have happened to you lately? Would your own mother out you as a lesbian at her Yiddish club? The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt is a laugh-out-loud funny pull-no-punches collection of original essays on topics that aren't usually talked about-much like the recent bestselling anthology The Bitch in the House. Molly Jong-Fast, author of Normal Girl and daughter of Erica Jong, writes about displeasing her therapist in "Tell Me About Your Mother." Tova Mirvis, author of the bestselling novel The Ladies Auxiliary, writes about the pressure to be perfect in "What Will They Think?" Lori Gottlieb, author of the bestselling memoir Stick Figure, writes about trying to outwit her mother using caller ID in "Conversations with My Mother." Also includes pieces by: Jennifer Bleyer Pearl Gluck Rebecca Goldstein Lauren Grodstein Dara Horn Rachel Kadish Cynthia Kaplan Binnie Kirschenbaum Ellen Miller Katie Rophie Laurie Gwen Shapiro Susan Shapiro Ayelet Waldman, and many more. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Guardian of the Dawn
Paperback Novel
by Richard Zimler (Porto College of Journalism, Portugal)
Delta (July 26, 2005)
From Booklist: Zimler returns to the family of Berekiah Zarco, hero of the searing Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (1998), in his latest novel about the Portuguese Jews of the sixteenth century. The story picks up in the 1590s as Tiago Zarco, great-great grandchild of Berekiah, comes of age in Goa, India, where many Portuguese Jews have immigrated to escape forced conversion to Christianity. But the long arm of the Inquisition reaches even to colonial India, where resident Jews dodge the ruling Catholics and live together with the local Hindus. Zimler effectively juxtaposes another saga of horrifying religious persecution (Tiago narrates most of the novel from a prison cell) against a tender, multicultural love story that transcends the historical moment, touching readers with its similarity to contemporary tales of star-crossed lovers ("We were venturing forth from out of the mystery of ourselves"). The density of Zimler's prose may put off some, but his powerful evocation of a world not so very different from ours strikes a universal chord during yet another age of cultural and religious disharmony. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book cover click here] The Other Shulman
A Novel
by ALAN ZWEIBEL
Villard (July 5, 2005)
Read the book that Larry David and Billy Crystal read and enjoyed. From Publishers Weekly: "Told via flashbacks as its protagonist runs the New York City marathon, this very likable effort from a former Saturday Night Live writer is the story of T.O. Shulman, New Jerseyan, stationary store owner and father of three who's gained and lost enough pounds to make "another Shulman." The novel takes its cues from the same green lawns of suburbia that have enchanted writers from John Updike to Chang-rae Lee, but it is Tom Perrotta, with his more quotidian approach to the problems of suburbanites, to whom this work owes its biggest debt. Shulman, in a rut, has decided that his path to salvation is 26 miles long. A fading marriage, absent children and the imminent failure of his business are further complicated by his discovery of a doppelgänger, a real "other Shulman," owner of a mega-stationery store who symbolizes the decline of the Capra-esque smalltown ideal in which displays of vanity and ambition are suspect. But as Shulman's legs grow stronger, his nascent will begins to assert itself in his escalating battle against the cynical manipulations and spiritual falsity that his twin represents. The book wavers by adopting a kind of last-minute ad hoc magical realism that muddles questions about exactly how real Shulman's enemy is, but it nevertheless tells a winning tale." Click the book cover above to read more.








[book cover click here] Philip Roth: Novels 1967-1972
(Library of America) (Hardcover)
by Philip Roth, Ross Miller (Editor)
August 2005. Library of America
For the last half century, the novels of Philip Roth have re-energized American fiction and redefined its possibilities. Roth's comic genius, his imaginative daring, his courage in exploring uncomfortable truths, and his assaults on political, cultural, and sexual orthodoxies have made him one of the essential writers of our time. By special arrangement with the author, The Library of America now inaugurates the definitive edition of Roth's collected works. This second volume presents four extraordinarily diverse works displaying the range and originality of his fictional art. When She Was Good (1967) is the trenchant portrait of Lucy Nelson, a young midwestern woman whose perception of her own suffering turns her into a ferocious force, "enemy-ridden and unforgivingly defiant," as Roth would later describe her. A small-town 1940s America of restrictive social pressures and foreclosed opportunities provides the novel's background. The publication of the hilarious Portnoy's Complaint (1969) was a cultural event that turned Roth into a reluctant celebrity. The confession of a bewildered psychoanalytic patient thrust through life by his unappeasable sexuality yet held back by the iron grip of his unforgettable childhood, Portnoy unleashed Roth's comic virtuosity and opened new avenues for American fiction. In Our Gang (1971), described by Anthony Burgess as a "brilliant satire in the real Swift tradition," Roth effects a savage takedown of the administration of Richard Nixon (who figures here as Trick E. Dixon). Written before the revelations of the Watergate scandal, Our Gang continues to resonate as a broad and outraged response to the clownish hypocrisy and moral theatrics of the American political scene. The Kafkaesque excursion The Breast (1972) introduces David Kepesh in the first volume of a trilogy that continues with The Professor of Desire (1977) and The Dying Animal (2001). The Breast prompted Cynthia Ozick to remark, "One knows when one is reading something that will permanently enter the culture." Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Philip Roth: Novels and Stories 1959-1962
(Library of America) (Hardcover)
by Philip Roth, Ross Miller (Editor)
August 2005. Library of America
For the last half century, the novels of Philip Roth have re-energized American fiction and redefined its possibilities. Roth's comic genius, his imaginative daring, his courage in exploring uncomfortable truths, and his assaults on political, cultural, and sexual orthodoxies have made him one of the essential writers of our time. By special arrangement with the author, The Library of America now inaugurates the definitive edition of Roth's collected works. This first volume presents Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories, the book that established Roth's reputation on publication in 1959 and for which he won the National Book Award, and his first novel, Letting Go (1962). The title novella, Goodbye, Columbus, the story of a summer romance between a poor young man from Newark and a rich Radcliffe co-ed, is both a tightly wrought tale of youthful desire and a satiric gem that takes aim at the comfortable affluence of the postwar boom. Here and in the stories that accompany it, including "The Conversion of the Jews" and "Defender of the Faith," Roth depicts Jewish lives in 1950s America with an unflinching sharpness of observation. In Letting Go, a sprawling novel set largely against the backdrop of Chicago in the 1950s, Roth portrays the moral dilemmas of young people cast precipitously into adulthood, and in the process describes a skein of social and family responsibilities as they are brought into focus by issues of marriage, abortion, adoption, friendship, and career. The novel's expansiveness provides a wide scope for Roth's gift for vivid characterization, and in his protagonist Gabe Wallach he creates a nuanced portrait of a responsive young academic whose sense of morality draws him into the ordeals of others with unforeseen consequences Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] The Man from Beyond
A Novel (Hardcover)
by Gabriel Brownstein
Norton (September 2005)
From Publishers Weekly: Inspired by the complex relationship between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the celebrated author and champion of spiritualism, and Harry Houdini, the famed magician and escape artist, Brownstein's uneven first novel reimagines the consequences of the séance, held in 1922 after a chance meeting on the New Jersey shore, in which the spirit-writing Lady Doyle delivered a message from Houdini's late mother to her skeptical son. While the author does a good job of getting inside the heads of his two historical protagonists with their opposing philosophies, much of the story focuses on the admirable but less interesting 22-year-old Molly Goodman, an intrepid reporter who follows the two great men's activities. In a vivid scene, after Houdini barely escapes from a locked box under the Hudson far down river from where he was supposed to emerge, he realizes that, like Sherlock Holmes after surviving his struggle with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, everyone believes he's dead. After this delicious twist, however, the story rushes to a hasty climax involving an insufficiently developed villain. Brownstein's story collection, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Apt. 3W (2002), won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] LIBERATION
A Novel (Hardcover)
by JOANNA SCOTT
Little Brown (November 2005)
From Publishers Weekly: The morning after her 70th birthday party, attended by her dutiful husband and children, Adriana Rundel takes a commuter train from suburban New Jersey to Manhattan, and becomes lost in memories of her WWII girlhood as a Jew in hiding on the Italian isle of Elba. Stealing glances from her hideout in the cupboard, she finds her first love, a young AWOL Senegalese soldier named Amdu Diop, who takes refuge in her family's home during the Allied push toward liberation. He is 17; she is 10. Theirs is an innocent infatuation rather than an intense affair, but that seems to be precisely what Scott (The Manikin) is after: "The truth was she liked Amdu because he was perfectly alive.... She just felt it, the way she felt the warmth of the sun." Their attachment is lovely, but doesn't provide much dramatic lift. And the heart attack Adriana suffers on the train ride into the city, which intermingles her childhood panic with her later-life mortal fear, is less a plot device than a means for integrating the vivid past with the dull present. Still, Scott accomplishes large shifts in time and perspective with grace, and delivers an affecting, unsentimental portrait of a survivor taking stock of her life and loves. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Courtesan
A Novel
by Dora Levy Mossanen
Touchstone (July 2005)
From Publishers Weekly - A sweeping romance with intrigues in both fin de siècle Paris and repressive Persia, Mossanen's engrossing second novel (after Harem) follows the sentimental education of a young seductress. Though Simone knows from a young age that she's too romantic to follow her courtesan mother, Françoise, into the family business, her grandmother, famed Parisian madam Gabrielle (née Ester Abramowicz), isn't so convinced. A really handsome man, she figures, can seduce Simone, and thus initiate her into the habits of wealthy courtesans. Gabrielle sets upon Cyrus, a handsome Persian jeweler, and Simone is intrigued by the man who supplies only the rarest diamonds to the shah's court ("Was the origin of red diamonds the blood of mistreated diggers, the blazing eyes of dragons guarding illicit mines, or the tears of children forced into hard labor?" she wonders). She succumbs to his charms-but then they fall in love. Simone moves with her new husband to the rugged mountains of Persia to make a quiet life living as Jews in a Muslim country, but her happiness is short-lived. Abrupt shifts between times and locations confuse, but the engaging plot wins out. And while the sex scenes are a bit overcooked (Simone "directed the creamy gaze of her breasts" at a suitor), readers will find themselves gripped by spirited Simone's many adventures. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] THE WONDER SPOT
By MELISSA BANK
June 2005. VIKING
Melissa Bank's runaway bestseller, The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, charmed readers and critics alike with its wickedly insightful, tender look at a young woman's forays into love, work, and friendship. Now, with The Wonder Spot, Bank is back with her signature combination of devilishly self-deprecating humor, seriousness and wisdom. Nothing comes easily to Sophie Applebaum, the black sheep of her family trying to blend in with the herd. Uneasily situated between two brothers, Sophie first appears as the fulcrum and observer of her clan in "Boss of the World." Then, at college, in "The Toy Bar," she faces a gauntlet of challenges as Best Friend to the dramatic and beautiful Venice Lambourne, curator of "perfect things." In her early twenties, Sophie is dazzled by the possibilities of New York City during the Selectric typewriter era -- only to land solidly back in Surrey, PA after her father's death. The Wonder Spot follows Sophie's quest for her own identity -- who she is, what she loves, whom she loves, and occasionally whom she feels others should love -- over the course of 25 years. In an often-disappointing world, Sophie listens closely to her own heart. And when she experiences her 'Aha!' moments -- her own personal wonder spots - it's the real thing. In this tremendous follow-up to The Girls' Guide To Hunting And Fishing, Bank again shares her vast talent for capturing a moment, taking it to heart, and giving it back to her readers. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Mine Are Spectacular!
A Novel
by LYNN SCHNURNBERGER, JANICE KAPLAN
Ballantine Books (June 28, 2005)
A follow up to the Botox Diaries. A light hearted look at plastic surgery in the suburbs. Click the book cover above to read more.










[book cover click here] When Harry Hit The Hamptons
(Paperback novel)
by Mara Goodman-Davies
Sourcebooks Landmark (May 3, 2005)
Goodman-Davies is a stand up comedian, a former British tv chef, and the daughter of a NYC garmento shoe macher. She knows of what she writes. From Publishers Weekly: Goodman-Davies skewers the misbehaving Hamptons elite in her first novel, a guilty pleasure beach read. When Harry Raider, prince of the L.A. party scene, lands in the hospital after a particularly wild night, his billionaire daddy puts his foot down: Harry will go to the Hamptons to dry out or be disowned. Couldn't Mr. Raider's $3.4 billion buy him a celebrity magazine? The poor fool still thinks of the Hamptons as a sleepy cluster of beach shacks. As soon as the news makes it to Harry's childhood friend, "preppy haute-couture homosexual" stylist Chas Greer, he makes plans to marry the 38-year-old man-child off to the highest bidder. Goodman-Davies's author bio makes much of her own Hamptons youth, but thanks to gossip columnists, America's voracious appetite for scandalous tales of the rich and famous and the one-woman show that is Paris Hilton, there's barely such a thing as East Hampton insider info. Coke-snorting, bulimic socialites and calculating mama's boys act badly enough for a pretty good farce, and while Goodman-Davies's writing can be snappy, mostly it has the panache of a Sweet Valley Twins installment. Scenes of outlandish excess and its attendant misery are diverting, but, as with junk food, a little goes a long way. Click the book cover above to read more.










[book cover click here] A STRANGE DEATH
by HILLEL HALKIN
June 2005, Public Affairs
Jay Freeman wrote in Booklist: The community of Zichron Ya'akov is located in the southern foothills of the Carmel Mountains near Haifa. Today, this picturesque village is a tourist attraction for both Israelis and foreigners, but in 1917 this Zionist settlement was at the heart of an enduring espionage mystery that still haunts its inhabitants. Halkin is a columnist for the Jerusalem Post and has lived in Zichron Ya'akov since 1970. During World War I, the settlement sheltered a spy ring that passed information to the British about Ottoman military capabilities and maneuvers. The ring was uncovered; the Turks executed two members, and a third committed suicide to avoid torture. Who betrayed them and why? What happened to the supposed informants? In probing the mystery, Halkin uses the tools of an expert novelist and a skilled investigative journalist. His narrative moves smoothly back and forth in time, from pre-Mandate Palestine to contemporary Israel. His book is both a tale of intrigue and a sociological survey of the evolution of a small community over nine decades. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Destined to Choose
A Rabbi David Cohen Novel (Paperback)
by Sheyna Galyan
YaldahPublishing.com
When Anna Rosenfeld writes a college philosophy paper, she never expects it to jeopardize her relationship with her grandfather, Avram, or leave her alone and afraid on the streets of Minneapolis. Help comes in the form of Rabbi David Cohen, spiritual leader of Avram's synagogue, who is struggling with his own personal demons amidst difficulties with both his family and his congregation. Trained in both psychology and Talmudic argument, and armed with his faith in God, David must help Anna and Avram face the real issue that divides them before time runs out. Set against the backdrop of Tisha b'Av - a time of mourning commemorating multiple instances of causeless hatred - they bring together their memories and experiences as they confront evil itself and answer a cry for help that no one expected. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] [book cover click here] NO FIREWORKS
A Novel
by Rodge Glass
Gardners, June 30, 2005
"No Fireworks is both thoughtful and brave, offering a bleakly humorous and moving take on one man's final struggle to restore his faith - in himself, his family, and ultimately, his God." "A superb debut...the plot oozes confidence and somehow seems to seep into the story rather than standing outside, like scaffolding holding the whole thing together." No Fireworks is an unusual first novel for a 27-year-old: enjoyably unpredictable, its 61-year-old protagonist is a Jewish alcoholic teacher going through his third divorce. Like the best tragi-comedies, it is written with a pin-sharp sense of character, isn't afraid to take a swing at the deepest subjects and can spin between the two modes at will. Abe Stone knows that he's wasted his life, that his mother is right in the letters he receives from her after her death that tell him to stand for something so that when he, too, dies he won't have regrets. But stand for what? For being something more than a "pretend Jew", getting to know the rabbi, going back to the faith of his fathers? Or what about spreading his spiritual bets and helping out with the multi-cultural bunch of Christians in the charity shop? Or forgetting about faith and just healing his own fractured family? Above all, which is better: believing in something that you know is flawed or believing in nothing at all? As Abe stumbles ever closer to the grave, there are a whole host of comedic hooks to pull the reader alongside him. Sometimes it's the dialogue, as in the string of faux pas Abe, a non-observing Jew, makes during the funeral service for his mother; sometimes it's the tease of dropped hints about shocking incidents to come. Either way, the plot oozes confidence and somehow seems to seep into the story rather than standing outside, like scaffolding holding the whole thing together. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] THE J.A.P. CHRONiCLES
By ISABEL ROSE
MAY 17, 2005. DOUBLEDAY
Jane Austen set in an elite Jewish summer camp.
After seventeen years, the girls from Willow Lake Camp reunite and find that some things have changed, while others will always remain the same. Ali dropped her hand and slunk lower in her chair. Dafna and Beth were dressed like twins (of course) . . . What was it with that outfit? Was it something that came with your apartment when you moved to the Upper East Side, like a welcome basket in a hotel room filled with fruit and champagne? (Welcome to the Upper East Side! Enjoy your Marc Jacobs skirt and top and these adorable Manolo Blahnik sandals!) Arden hated odd numbers . . . Their old hateful apartment had been on the ninth floor of a West Side prewar building and although the space had been charming and a bona fide movie star had lived on the floor above them, Arden felt, after consulting both a numerologist and a feng shui specialist, that the vibe was entirely too negative on an odd-numbered floor. The girl who had played second fiddle to Dafna since they were eight years old was going to walk down the aisle first!? How could it be? She, Dafna Eve Shapiro, who had never been short of boyfriends, wasn't about to end up an old maid! Beth wears size 9. She hates her nose and thighs and hair. And the once-formidable Wendy Levin was now nothing more then a well-toned, well-manicured, well-dressed suburban mom . . . It was a far cry from the superjock camper everyone thought would win the U.S. Open one day. This is a funny spirited novel. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] News from the New American Diaspora and
Other Tales of Exile
(Literary Modernism Series
by Jay Neugeboren
University of Texas Press (May 1, 2005)
Prize-winning novelist Jay Neugeboren's third collection of short stories focuses on Jews in various states of exile and expatriation--strangers in strange lands, far from home. These dozen tales, by an author whose stories have been selected for more than fifty anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and O. Henry Prize Stories, span the twentieth century and vividly capture brief moments in the lives of their characters: a rabbi in a small town in New England struggling to tend to his congregation and himself, retirees who live in Florida but dream of Brooklyn, a boy at a summer camp in upstate New York learning about the Holocaust for the first time, Russians living in Massachusetts with the family who helped them immigrate. In "The Other End of the World," an American soldier who has survived life in a Japanese prisoner of war camp grieves for members of his family murdered in a Nazi death camp, and in "Poppa's Books" a young boy learns to share his father's passion for the rare books that represent the Old World. "This Third Life" tells of a divorced woman who travels across Germany searching for new meaning in her life after her children leave home, while both "His Violin" and "The Golden Years" explore the plight of elderly Jews, displaced from New York City to retirement communities in Florida, who struggle with memory, madness, and mortality. Set in various times and places, these poignant stories are all tales of personal exile that also illuminate that greater diaspora--geographical, emotional, or spiritual--in which many of us, whether Jews or non-Jews, live. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] The Writing On The Wall
A Novel
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
Counterpoint Press (May 31, 2005)
For the first time, one of New York City's major resident authors spins a breathtakingly immediate, intimate family novel centered around the September 11, 2001 attacks. Thirty-four and decidedly independent, Renata has been known to keep her involvement with people-men in particular-to a minimum. Even her job at the library keeps her at a remove from the uncertainty of trusting other people with the stories of her past. Instead she loses herself in language, ever measuring the integrity of words against lived experience. Then Jack, patient, solid, and sexy, enters her life. One bright September morning, as Renata walks across the Brooklyn Bridge to work, the sky bursts open and change comes without warning. It quickly becomes clear in the days ahead that Renata cannot keep memories of her buried past-of a twin sister, a betrayal, of family truths too ugly to acknowledge-at bay. Written with tremendous compassion and imagination, informed by an abiding love for the people of New York, and crafted by a master storyteller at the height of her powers, The Writing on the Wall is a profoundly engaging novel about how one woman saw-and we all continue to ponder-the defining event of our time Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Boogaloo on Second Avenue
A Novel of Pastry, Guilt, and Music
by Mark Kurlansky
Ballantine (March 2005)
From Booklist: This novel covers very little territory geographically, but its human characters stretch from the shtetl to Caribbean isles and beyond. These denizens of New York's Lower East Side come from Germany, Italy, Poland, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Mashed together on very little land, lives collide and combine in a maelstrom of languages, customs, foods, addictions, and violence. The beginnings of neighborhood gentrification foreshadow imminent change. Kurlansky's apt description of all this is meshugaloo, a combination of Yiddish and Spanish words that points to a sort of radical craziness. Amidst all this, Nathan Seltzer tries to fend off Kopy Katz, a predatory chain eager to swallow up his little photocopy shop, which plays a benevolent role in neighborhood life. Meanwhile, Nathan also has his eye on the daughter of the German pastry-shop owner. A mysterious murderer adds a frisson to this melange of foods and funk. Anyone not intimate with both Yiddish and Spanish and the folkways of Manhattan may find some of this story opaque. The author closes with recipes for caponata, bacala, pasteles, and kugelhopf. Based on the popularity of his nonfiction books, including Cod (1997), expect demand. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book cover click here] THE BOY WHO LOVED ANNE FRANK
A novel by ELLEN FELDMAN
April 2005, Norton
Whatever happened to the boy who hid in the attic with Anne Frank and her family. His name was Peter van Pels. He swore to Anne that he would survive and succeed, and in this novel he does. On February 16, 1944, Anne Frank recorded in her diary that Peter, whom she at first disliked but eventually came to love, had confided in her that if he got out alive, he would reinvent himself entirely. This is the story of what might have happened if the boy in hiding survived to become a man. Peter arrives in America, the land of self-creation; he flourishes in business, marries, and raises a family. He thrives in the present, plans for the future, and has no past. But when The Diary of a Young Girl is published to worldwide acclaim and gives rise to bitter infighting, he realizes the cost of forgetting. Based on extensive research of Peter van Pels and the strange and disturbing life Anne Frank's diary took on after her death, this is a novel about the memory of death, the death of memory, and the inescapability of the past Click the book cover above to read more.








[book cover click here] Cherished Illusions
by Sarah Stern "
April 2005, Balfour
When Rachel, a child of Holocaust survivors, finds that her life has intersected with that of Danielle, a refined woman with a mysterious past...old fears and painful discoveries bind the two women together in a blur of emotions and choices. As the two oddly matched friends open up to each other, one reveals a dark secret and her longing for redemption. The other purposes to walk with her through dark days ahead, from which they hope to emerge into the light. This first novel from Sarah Stern weaves startling facts about ancient hatreds directed toward the Jewish people with a rich, detailed narrative that readers will find engrossing. Through her supple writing and an imagination rooted in truth-seeking, Stern has crafted a novel for all ages. The author, Sarah Stern, is the director of the Washington office for the American Jewish Congress. Born in Westchester County, NY, she carries the name of an aunt who perished in the gas chambers at Aushwitz. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book cover click here] Walking Home
by Gloria Goldreich
Mira (January 1, 2005)
From Booklist: Rochelle Weiss grew up with the undivided attention often bestowed on only children, made more intense by her parents' history as Holocaust survivors. Overjoyed to have survived, found love, and produced a child, Isaac and Lena Weiss' devotion to their daughter instills in her a supreme self-confidence, bolstered by her good looks and charm. Academic success comes easily to Rochelle, followed by professional success as a public-relations executive. But when her parents both are diagnosed with terminal cancer, Rochelle is fired when she requests a leave to care for them. Soon, Rochelle finds herself alone without the job (and the high-powered business-exec boyfriend) that so defined her. Needing money but without the desire to return to the callous PR world, she takes over two friends' dog-walking routes and finds herself sorting out her thoughts and her life while trekking across Manhattan with her canine clients. In lyrical prose, Goldreich offers a sad yet hopeful tale of a woman whose personal tragedy ultimately yields to greater self-awareness and deeper happiness. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] [book] Cooking For Love
A Novel with Recipes
by Sharon Boorstin
iUniverse, Inc. (August 8, 2004)
Who says women over 40 are too old for fun, romance and sex? In COOKING FOR LOVE, In COOKIN' FOR LOVE, Beverly Hills cookbook author Miriam Levy's life is a fallen souffle. Her best friend Kate McGrath dreams about "The One" who got away. When, after 25 years, Kate finds him on Google and he asks her to visit him half-way around the world, she begs Miriam to go with her. It leads to an adventure that teaches both women about love, life, friendship - and food. Inspired by a true story, this warm, funny novel - Chick Lit for "mature" women - includes 25 delicious recipes from "Orgasmic Cookies" to "Pop-the-Question Rum Cake." If you loved "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood," COOKIN' FOR LOVE is must reading. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book cover click here] THE MANOR AND THE ESTATE
By Isaac Bashevis Singer
December 2004. Wisconsin.
Two novels by Singer, about Polish Jews in the late 19th Century, during a time of industrialization, and the move from the shtetl to prominence in Polish society. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book cover click here] A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS
A Novel By Amos Oz
December 2004, Harcourt
Publishers Weekly writes: This memoir/family history brims over with riches: metaphors and poetry, drama and comedy, failure and success, unhappy marriages and a wealth of idiosyncratic characters. Some are lions of the Zionist movement-David Ben-Gurion (before whom a young Oz made a terrifying command appearance), novelist S.Y. Agnon, poet Saul Tchernikhovsky-others just neighbors and family friends, all painted lovingly and with humor. Though set mostly during the author's childhood in Jerusalem of the 1940s and '50s, the tale is epic in scope, following his ancestors back to Odessa and to Rovno in 19th-century Ukraine, and describing the anti-Semitism and Zionist passions that drove them with their families to Palestine in the early 1930s. In a rough, dusty, lower-middle-class suburb of Jerusalem, both of Oz's parents found mainly disappointment: his father, a scholar, failed to attain the academic distinction of his uncle, the noted historian Joseph Klausner. Oz's beautiful, tender mother, after a long depresson, committed suicide when Oz (born in 1939) was 12. By the age of 14, Oz was ready to flee his book-crammed, dreary, claustrophobic flat for the freedom and outdoor life of Kibbutz Hulda. Oz's personal trajectory is set against the background of an embattled Palestine during WWII, the jubilation after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, the violence and deprivations of Israel's war of independence and the months-long Arab siege of Jerusalem. This is a powerful, nimbly constructed saga of a man, a family and a nation forged in the crucible of a difficult, painful history. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] THE WHITE ROSE
By Jean Hanff Korelitz
Miramax; (January 2005)
From Publishers Weekly Korelitz, known for her intelligent thrillers (The Sabbathday River, etc.), strikes off in a new direction with this mordant story of aging, love and self-discovery, a re-imagining of the Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier set in upper-class Jewish New York City. Marian Kahn, gracefully aging at 48, is a respected history professor at Columbia, author of a bestselling book of popular history and solidly ensconced in a satisfactory if not brilliant marriage when suddenly she's swept away by the wild but dangerous joy of an affair with the son of her oldest friend. Twenty-six-year-old Oliver, owner of a flower shop called the White Rose, is truly in love, but when he meets graduate student and heiress Sophie Klein, the fiancée of Marian's pompous cousin, Barton Ochstein, he's blindsided and must question his still strong love for Marian. Sophie is swept away, too, by the knowledge that she may want something more out of life than the academic satisfaction she derives from the study of her own White Rose, a group of German dissidents who agitated against the Nazis. The belief that love always involves sacrifice and is worth the sacrifice it demands drives this warm, worldly novel. Even when their own comfort is at stake, Korelitz's characters succumb to generous impulses, making this a satisfying, emotionally rich read. From the West Village to the Upper East Side, from the Hamptons to Millbrook, The White Rose is at once a nuanced and affectionate reimagining of Strauss' beloved opera, Der Rosenkavalier, and a mesmerizing novel of our own time and place. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] Little Edens: Stories
by Barbara Klein Moss
WW NORTON; (January 2005)
An elegant and richly evocative collection about the nature of paradise and the complexities of desire. These eight magical stories are about the Edenic spaces that people create in their lives and the serpents that subtly inhabit them; in each case a form of revelation accompanies the threat of expulsion from the earthly paradise. In "Rug Weaver" (selected for Best American Short Stories 2001), an Iranian rug dealer makes a paradise of his prison cell by weaving an elaborate rug in his mind. Grieving parents in the title story transfigure an exotic luxury subdivision in southern California into a vision of heaven. In "Interpreters" a couple working in a re-created colonial village find that the roles they play are more seductively real than their lives outside. For all these men and women, the apple is only the beginning. And in every story there is a tension between inner and outer worlds as the characters leave a place that grows greener, lusher, and more perfect as they look back. In the novella, "The Palm Tree of Dilys Catheart" is an unlikely love story between a lonely English piano teacher and an Orthodox Jewish butcher who hears heavenly music in his head. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] [book cover click here] THE SEVENTH BEGGAR
PEARL ABRAHAM
Feb 2005, Riverhead
Set in the Chasidic world of Monsey, New York, a brilliantly original, provocative novel about storytelling and the limits of creation. The Seventh Beggar begins with a contemporary young man's obsession with the legendary nineteenth-century Chasidic master, Nachman of Bratslav-kabbalist, storyteller, and charismatic whose cult following persists to this day. The legends and life of Nachman inform the novel, in particular Nachman's famously unfinished "Tales of the Seven Beggars," which serves as the inspiration for Pearl Abraham's own bold and probing story about the glories and pitfalls of originality. A translation of Nachman's tales from the original Yiddish is included in full in the novel itself. Abraham staked her literary claim in the groundbreaking novel The Romance Reader, which took readers for the first time into the Chasidic world through the eyes of a woman. Now she returns to that world, with an even more ambitious work that upends the conventions of storytelling, thwarts expectations, and yet all the while compels us with its lovable characters, its narrative momentum, and its creation of a familiar yet dreamlike landscape, in which imagination simultaneously triumphs and destroys.
Reminded me slightly of the play by Yehuda Hyman, the mad dancer. Pearl Abraham grew up in a Hasidic household. Her father and her brother are writers also. Her maternal grandfather was a Bratslav Hasid. The book has three themes, Nahman, eroticism, and the creation of artificial life. Joel Jakob tries to create a female (shekhina) while his nephew at MIT, Jakob Joel tries to create a robot. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] A CHANGED MAN
A novel by
FRANCINE PROSE
March 2005, HarperCollins
On an unseasonably warm spring afternoon, a young neo-Nazi named Vincent Nolan walks into the Manhattan office of World Brotherhood Watch, a human rights foundation headed by a charismatic Holocaust survivor, Meyer Maslow. Vincent announces that he wants to make a radical change in his life. But what is Maslow to make of this rough-looking stranger who claims to have read Maslow's books, who has Waffen-SS tattoos under his shirtsleeves, and who says that his mission is to save guys like him from becoming guys like him? As he gradually turns into the sort of person who might actually be able to do that, Vincent also transforms those around him: Maslow, who fears that heroism has become a desk job; Bonnie Kalen, the foundation's fund-raiser, a divorced single mother and a devoted believer in Maslow's crusade against intolerance and injustice; and Bonnie's teenage son, Danny, whose take on the world around him is at once openhearted, sharp-eyed, and as fundamentally decent as his mother's. A Changed Man poses the essential questions: What constitutes a life worth living? Is it possible to change? What does it mean to be a moral human being? Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] The Genizah At The House Of Shepher
A novel
by Tamar Yellin
Toby Press (March 30, 2005)
Shulamit, a biblical scholar from England, returns to her grandparents' home in Jerusalem for a visit, after an absence of many years. Almost immediately she becomes embroiled in a family feud over possession of the so-called Shepher Codex, a mysterious and valuable manuscript which has been discovered in the attic. In tracing the origins of the Codex she uncovers the history of the Shepher family itself: of her great-grandfather, who traveled to Babylon in search of the ten lost tribes; of her grandfather, a dreamer whose Zionist ideals brought him into confl ict with his religion; of her parents, and their tormented love affair; and of her own orphaned and unhappy past. At the same time, she struggles to find answers to pressing questions: what is the significance of the Codex and where does it come from? Who is the stranger, Gideon, who is desperate to enlist her help? Above all, whom does the Codex belong to and what part must Shula play in its destiny? Set against the backdrop of a changing Jerusalem over a hundred and thirty years, The Genizah at the House of Shepher is a large-canvas novel of exile and belonging, displacement, and the quest for both love and a true promised land. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] DETOUR
A Novel
by James Siegel
March 23, 2005. Warner
After five years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, Joanna and Paul Breidbart fly to South America to adopt a baby girl; after spending less than a day there, however, Paul is convinced that Colombia "wasn't Third World as much as fourth dimension." Then things go seriously wrong. Their Colombian nurse and chauffeur, provided by the adoption agency, kidnap the couple and their baby and deliver them to a revolutionary cartel. Paul is told that the only way to free his wife and daughter is to smuggle $2 million worth of cocaine into the U.S. His attempt to deliver the goods, however, is sabotaged, and after losing the drugs and the money, he must scramble to come up with an alternate plan. For help he turns to Miles Goldstein, the Orthodox Jewish lawyer who arranged the adoption. This leads to Brooklyn, as well as the Russian mob. The familiar formula--ordinary man (Paul is an actuary) forced to deal with a nightmarish scenario--is given plenty of twists by the inventive Siegel (Derailed, 2003). Crisp prose, a breakneck pace, a surprisingly tart sense of humor, and some pointed social commentary give this thriller a good deal of bite. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] [book cover click here] Beware of God
Stories
by Shalom Auslander
March 2005, Simon and Schuster
An inventive, surreal, and absurd collection--and much anticipated literary debut of a fresh young humor writer. Violent rabbis, lovelorn wives, a busy Grim Reaper, shame-filled simians, and one seriously angry deity populate this humorous and disquieting collection. Shalom Auslander's stories in Beware of God have the mysterious punch of a dream. They are wide ranging and inventive: A young Jewish man's inexplicable transformation into a very large, blond, tattooed goy ends with a Talmudic argument over whether or not his father can beat his unclean son with a copy of the Talmud. A pious man having a near-death experience discovers that God is actually a chicken, and he's forced to reconsider his life -- and his diet. At God's insistence, Leo Schwartzman searches Home Depot for supplies for an ark. And a young boy mistakes Holocaust Remembrance Day as emergency preparedness training for the future. Auslander draws upon his upbringing in an Orthodox Jewish community in New York State to craft stories that are filled with shame, sex, God, and death, but also manage to be wickedly funny and poignant. Shalom Auslander was raised as an Orthodox Jew in Spring Valley, New York. Nominated for the Koret Award for writers under thirty-five, he has published articles in Esquire and has had stories aired on NPR's This American Life. He lives in New York City. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] EXTREMELY LOUD AND
INCREDIBLY CLOSE
A NOVEL
by JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER
April 2005,
Algonquin
Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history. What he discovers is solace in that most human quality, imagination. But wait.. First let me admit to doing something. After reading his first novel, Everything Is Illuminated, I sent away for brochures from Accounting Programs at American universities in the name of one of his characters (who wanted to go to study accounting) and had them sent to Foer's JH address before he moved onto to the better boro in PS.
Meet Oskar Schell, an inventor, Francophile, tambourine player, Shakespearean actor, jeweler, pacifist, correspondent with Stephen Hawking and Ringo Starr. He is nine years old. And he is on an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. His mission is to find the lock that fits a mysterious key belonging to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11. An inspired innocent, Oskar is alternately endearing, exasperating, and hilarious as he careens from Central Park to Coney Island to Harlem on his search. Along the way he is always dreaming up inventions to keep those he loves safe from harm. What about a birdseed shirt to let you fly away? What if you could actually hear everyone's heartbeat? His goal is hopeful, but the past speaks a loud warning in stories of those who've lost loved ones before. As Oskar roams New York, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity who are all survivors in their own way. He befriends a 103-year-old war reporter, a tour guide who never leaves the Empire State Building, and lovers enraptured or scorned. Ultimately, Oskar ends his journey where it began, at his father's grave. But now he is accompanied by the silent stranger who has been renting the spare room of his grandmother's apartment. They are there to dig up his father's empty coffin. Click the book cover above to read more.
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[book cover click here] Alligators May Be Present
(Library of American Fiction) a novel
by Andrew Furman
April 2005, University of Wisconsin Press
While many Jews pick Florida as the perfect place to retire, Matt Glassman has chosen it as the place to begin his adulthood. Perhaps that's because the pressures of life have always reminded him of his grandfather, who mysteriously disappeared from the family twenty years ago. Now, while he tries to begin a family of his own, Glassman also builds a relationship with the one person, his grandmother, who might know the truth about his grandfather's disappearance. She's remained stubbornly reticent on the topic all these years, but when a familiar old man shows up at Glassman's office he thinks he may finally get some answers. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] CHLOE DOES YALE
a novel
by Natalie Krinsky
March 2005
Booklist wrote: "Yale senior Krinsky writes a popular sex-advice column in the Yale Daily News, so it's no surprise that her debut novel chronicles the adventures of a Yale senior who writes a sex column. Personal experience certainly pays off: her view of college life is fresh and honest. Her fictional alter-ego, Chloe Carrington, gleans material from her own relationships and those of her friends. She finds that sex is a touchy subject that wins her admirers and critics both. Her depictions of sex--usually the clumsy maneuverings attached to early relationships--are more comical than racy. This novel ends up being more about friendship and self-discovery than sex, a la Sex in the City. With the national attention Krinsky's column has garnered, readers will probably be on the lookout for the book to hit the shelves, and they'll find a sweet and funny take on fledging relationships of all kinds."
Krinsky, the Canadian and American daughter of Israeli emigres in NYC, wrote a column at Yale that was read by over 350,000. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] RESPONSIBLE MEN
A NOVEL
by EDWARD SCHWARZSCHILD
April 2005, Algonquin
Max Wolinsky is a forty-one-year-old, ethically challenged salesman from a family of mostly upstanding salesmen. He longs to become a better son and a better father, but when he returns home to Philadelphia for his son Nathan's bar mitzvah, he knows it won't be easy. For one thing, it means going to his former home to see his ex-wife, who's now living with the gardener he once hired. It means facing his unhappy son's complaints- Nathan is particularly upset about being forced to join a troop of kosher Boy Scouts. It also means hearing his father, Caleb, plead for him to move back to Philly from Florida. And it means trying to reconnect with Uncle Abe, once the family's most charismatic salesman, who hasn't been able to speak coherently since his stroke. If Max can be civil to his ex-wife, listen to his son, and pull off one last scam so his father and uncle can live a better life, everything just might turn out all right. What Max doesn't know is that Uncle Abe has his own master plan for the family. Responsible Men is by turns funny, poignant, and wise. Schwarzschild gets inside the hearts of men in prose that is both skillful and authentic Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here] The Red Heifer
A Novel (Paperback)
by Leo Haber
Syracuse University Press (February 28, 2005)
The Forward: Reviews: "Move over Henry Roth. With Leo Haber's poignant, page-turning new novel, The Red Heifer, we may very well have the Call It Sleep of the 21st century. . . . Mr. Haber's storyline is enriched by scenes that echo or recast memorable biblical episodes; the knowing reader marvels at the author's sleight of hand. . . . [The book] is an entire miniature civilization limned with compassion, perception, and wit." he main character of Leo Haber's debut novel grows to sexual and social awareness amid old-world Yiddish-speaking rabbis, new-world mobsters, Jewish non-believers, musicians, ballplayers, and new waves of immigrants. The novel teems with unforgettable characters who grapple with traditional values and the cultural enticements of their new goldene medine (new land). The problem of Jewish survival in a free society informs every aspect of the novel, with the ancient law of the red heifer serving as the central metaphor. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book cover click here][book cover click here] The Hour of the Star
(New Directions Paperbook)
by Clarice Lispector
Reissue edition (February 1, 1992)
Lispector, who became, in the mid-20th century, one of Brazil's most influential writers, is described as the Kafka of Latin American fiction. Her works have been translated into film and dance and she is famous in literary circles. But she is almost unknown outside of them, particularly in the United States, where all her books combined sell a few thousand copies a year, mainly in Latin American studies courses on college campuses. After her death from cancer in 1977, at 56 (more or less), she acquired the mystique of a character she might have created: a beautiful woman who was intense, philosophical, idiosyncratic, tragic - and murky on mundane facts like her exact date of birth. Like her writing, which is blunt and pungent yet also intellectual and abstract, she is hard to pin down.
The narrative material of this short, almost weightless tale by the late Brazilian writer (1925-1977) is reminiscent of old-fashioned naturalism, but the intention is far from that. Macabea, a young woman from the backwoods, arrives in bewildering Rio. Homely, ignorant, without skills or experience, she lodges in a shabby tenement in a squalid red-light district. Her transient boyfriend, a strutting lout and sham, soon abandons her. After a time, Macabea is struck down by a Mercedes and killed: an obscure life, a banal death. The author's presence is continuously feltthe narrator-of-record is a mere front for itand it is here that the work goes awry. The nagging voice attempts to elevate Macabea's little life to nobility and religious significancebut to no avail. And the modish commentary on novelistic method amounts to little more than affectation. Click the book cover above to read more.


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[book] [book] HEIR TO THE GLIMMERING WORLD
A NOVEL
by Cynthia Ozick
Houghton Mifflin; (September 1, 2004)
John Leonard writes, "a glimmerer in 16th-century England was a beggar woman, often with a sham license, who claimed to have lost her belongings to fire... there are the recorded glimmerings of old myths in the minds of poets and a transfigured Jesus in the Godhead. Nor should we forget that in such semishadow one sees ghosts. ...In her typically audacious new novel, ''Heir to the Glimmering World,'' Cynthia Ozick braids at least three and probably four ghostly glimmers and ''phantom eels'' of thought into a single luminous lariat -- or maybe a hangman's noose. Anything goes when she's making things up. While the Second Commandment on graven images presides over her fiercely prescriptive essays (four idol-smashing volumes of them since ''Art & Ardor'' in 1983), Ozick's fiction is shamanistic, almost wanton (five completely different novels, three dazzling collections of stories plus a ''Shawl'' since 1966). However much she always insists on ''a certain corona of moral purpose'' for fiction that wants to be better than journalism, she can't help dancing in the air like Feingold in ''Levitation,'' like Chagall with the cows, or Flannery O'Connor. In 1935, 18-year-old Rose Meadows, orphaned [her mother died when she was 3, her father died 14 years later on the way to the track (lm)], bright, bookish, broke, ''mainly a watcher and a listener'' and just evicted from her cousin Bertram's apartment by his obnoxious Communist girlfriend [Ninel which is Lenin spelled backwards (lm)], answers an Albany newspaper ad for someone to assist a family that has recently arrived from Berlin and is shortly to move to ''the true city'' of New York. Though it isn't clear if Rose is expected to be a secretary to Rudolf Mitwisser (a scholar obsessed with the 1,200-year-old Jewish heresy of Karaism), a nursemaid to his invalid wife, Elsa (a physicist booted out of her lab by the Nazis), or a nanny to their five difficult children, she is the only applicant for the job, with nowhere else to go."
Donna Seaman wrotes, "Ozick sets in motion a kaleidoscopic array of complex entanglements in her much anticipated new novel, a work of scintillating intelligence and supple imagination that, like The Puttermesser Papers (1997), draws on sacred and literary traditions to create a tale at once compassionate and brightly satirical, otherworldly and down to earth. It's 1933 and the Mitwissers, a prominent Jewish German family, have escaped the Nazis and found a dubious yet irresistible champion in peripatetic and dissolute James Philip A'Bair, who is intrigued by Professor Rudolph Mitwisser's obsession with Karaism, a renegade eighth-century Baghdad-based Jewish doctrine rejecting rabbinical interpretations in favor of a strict focus on scripture. Known as the Bear Boy, James is the reluctant heir to a great fortune amassed by his father, a children's author who, like A. A. Milne and his character Christopher Robin, used his son as a model for what became a beloved icon. James sets the Mitwissers up in a rangy old house in the Bronx, where Rose Meadows, a pragmatic 18-year-old orphan steeped in Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen, serves as caretaker, nanny, typist, confidante, and discerning witness to a strange and compelling world. Gruff and preoccupied, Rudolph is fascinating, but his physicist wife, Elsa, gravely depressed yet all-knowing, steals the show. There are also three wild boys, a regal teenage daughter, and a neglected baby girl. Money and affection are scarce, but secrets, chaos, and angst abound. As her captivating characters struggle to come to terms with their raided past, Ozick brilliantly dramatizes the conflict between theology and science, various modes of mythmaking and survival, and "the hot drive to dissent, to subvert, to fly from what all men accept!"" Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Final Solution
A Story Of Detection
by Michael Chabon
November 2004. Fourth Estate.
In only 131 pages, the celebrated novelist, Michael Chabon tells the tale of a retired Sherlock Holmes (not actually mentioned by name) who meets a young German Jewish refugee during WWII. In deep retirement in the English country-side, an eighty-nine-year-old man, vaguely recollected by locals as a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than with his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African gray parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out -- a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts perhaps? Or something more sinister? Is the solution to this last case -- the real explanation of the mysterious boy and his parrot -- beyond even the reach of the once-famed sleuth? Subtle revelations lead the reader to a wrenching resolution. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] THE UNTHINKABLE THOUGHTS OF JACOB GREEN
A novel
By Jacob Braff

Algonquin; September 2004.
It's 1977, Jacob Green, a Jewish kid from suburban New Jersey, sits on the stairs during his family's housewarming party, waiting for his father, Abram - charming host, everyone's best friend, and amateur emcee - to introduce him to the crowd. Housewarming parties, Annie Hall parties, and bar mitzvah parties punctuate Jacob's childhood. But behind the drapes, at home, Abram Green is a tyrant filled with RAGE. Jacob thinks hilarious thoughts as an escape. He fantasizes about in home sex education with the live-in nanny, and Hebrew school escapades. If only his mother had not gone back to school at the age of 36 and fallen for her Freudian professor. If only he was expelled from Hebrew School like his rebellious brother, famed for his drawing of his rabbi in a threesome with a pig and a lobster. Can Jacob confront his father and tell him he doesn't want to sing in synagogues anymore? How can be a perfect son to his demanding EST-loving father? Now you get a clue into the unthinkable thoughts of Jacob Green. A highly witty look at an Orthodox Jewish family in the 1970s. The book is worth a read even if you only read Jacob's highly creative thank you notes for his Bar Mitvah gifts. Click the book cover above to read more.




FINALLY AFTER A TEN YEAR WAIT...
[book] THE PACIFIC AND OTHER STORIES
by MARK HELPRIN

October 2004, Penguin Press.
PW writes, "As ambitious and imaginative as any of Helprin's past works (Memoir from Antproof Case; Winter's Tale; etc.), the 16 stories collected in the author's first book in nearly a decade are gloriously rich and varied. In "Perfection," Helprin's fabulist skills glitter as a Hasidic boy from 1958 Brooklyn makes a pilgrimage to "the house of Ruth" in the Bronx, believing that he must save Mickey Mantle and the "New York Yenkiss." Other tales explore loss, regret, retribution and time's passage, their exotic locations-Italy, France, Israel, the orange grove-era Pacific coast-imbuing them with exuberant life. In "Il Colore Ritrovato," a bookkeeper-turned-impresario, who years ago discovered one of the world's greatest (and unhappiest) opera singers, happens upon another untrained but perfect soprano and wrestles with his conscience about introducing her to the professional world. In "Monday," an honorable contractor willing to sacrifice other contracts and his own reputation to renovate the home of a woman whose husband was killed on September 11 learns "the power of those who had done right." "Passchendaele," a story of unrequited passion between a Canadian rancher and his neighbor's mute wife, is tender and moving, as are "Last Tea with the Armorers" and "Prelude," each demonstrating immense faith in the power of love. These are sturdy, rewarding stories from a master of the form."
In another story, a British paratrooper jumps into occupied territory in order to reconnoiter enemy positions and direct artillery fire, but a roof breaks his fall; shattered physically and fully alone, he must decide the extent of his devotion to his mission. An opera impresario who has made his career on and ruined the life of a laundress-turned-diva now considers whether he ought to pluck from obscurity a soprano singing on a side street in Venice. A novelist in the 1940s, completely forgotten within the vast bureaucracy at U.S. Steel, constructs for himself a lifesaving sinecure. A September 11 widow receives an astonishing gift from the contractor working on her new apartment. In 1972, a female reservist in the Israeli Army who has despaired of love finds it at the very last minute and in its finest expression, while floating in the sea off Haifa. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Secrets of the City
A Novel
by ANNE ROIPHE

Now in paperback. Three Rivers Press; October 26, 2004.
From the pages of The Forward comes celebrated author Anne Roiphe's episodic and brilliant novel of a big-city mayor and the struggles that shape the fortunes of his city, the life of his family, and the condition of his soul. Mel Rosenberg is the mayor of a city uncannily similar to New York, which is being terrorized by a string of unusual attacks. Hundreds of ducks are found dead in the park; animals mysteriously die at the zoo; dozens of people are killed by poisoned food; all of the elevator operators in one building are murdered; and the mayor is kidnapped. In addition to handling the city's multiple crises, Mel must also contend with the pressures of his imperfect family-a daughter-in-law who is a compulsive shoplifter; an ungrateful son obsessed with status; an insecure daughter with a troubled marriage-not to mention a sexy, aggressive newspaper reporter who aims desperately to be his mistress. On top of it all, he becomes entangled in a high-profile political scandal that could ambush his aspirations of being elected the first Jewish president of the United States. With Secrets of the City, Anne Roiphe has delivered a fast-paced, engaging story written with humor, shrewd insight, and tenderness. Her characters explore issues that are as contemporary as they are timeless, and the plot has as many unexpected twists and turns as the West Village streets. This is an insider's peek at life in the fast lane in the most brilliant and brutal city in the world, with all its secrets laid bare. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] ANY PLACE I HANG MY HAT
A NOVEL
By Susan Isaacs
Scribner Book Company; (October 5, 2004)
An amusing story about Amy Lincoln and her search for parental roots. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book] THE LIBERATED BRIDE
A novel
Now in paperback
by A.B. Yehoshua (Author), Hillel Halkin (Translator)

October 2004, Harvest paperback.
Yohanan Rivlin, a professor at Haifa University, is a man of boundless and often naive curiosity. His wife, Hagit, a district judge, is tolerant of almost everything but her husband's faults and lies. Frequent arguments aside, they are a well-adjusted couple with two grown sons. When one of Rivlin's students-a young Arab bride from a village in the Galilee-is assigned to help with his research in recent Algerian history, a two-pronged mystery develops. As they probe the causes of the bloody Algerian civil war, Rivlin also becomes obsessed with his son's failed marriage. What is the roots of the divorce and what are the roots of Algerian terror. Rivlin's search leads to a number of improbable escapades. In this comedy of manners, at once deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua brilliantly portrays characters from disparate sectors of Israeli life, united above all by a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and life.
Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] [book] [book]







IN THE HEART OF THE SEAS
TWO TALES: BETROTHED and EDO AND ENAM
A GUEST FOR THE NIGHT
BY S. Y. AGNON
October 2004. Wisconsin.
Reprints of classic novels by Agnon. Click each separate book cover for more information more.








[book] A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK
SHORT STORIES
by LESLEA NEWMAN
October 2004. Wisconsin.
WITH A NEW PREFACE
These nine stories focus on an array of Jewish and lesbian concerns with a refreshing candor and lack of self-consciousness. The opening piece, "The Gift," introduces a theme that runs throughout the collectionthe conflicts between religious and sexual identity. Here, a simple, straightforward narrative escorts Rachel from the age of five through her 29th year. She alternately questions and embraces the Jewish heritage thrust upon her; endures the sexual advances and Jewish American Princess jokes of a college boyfriend; discovers both her lesbianism and that "being a lesbian is lonely. . . . Being a Jew is lonely. Being alive is lonely." Although pain plays a part in this volume, many of the tales celebrate with warmth and good humor the courageous maintenance of Jewish tradition in radical relationships. The title story takes a different twist as an old man finds both healing and grief in a writing course, while his Jewish lesbian teacher sees in her student an acceptance that her parents have denied her. "Flashback," another startling variation, tells of a young woman's obsession with the Holocaust. The work's immediate and genuine poignancy is sometimes marred by Newman's insistence on sprinkling Yiddish terms and speech patterns throughout the dialogue. The otherwise contemporary characters confront both timely issues, like AIDS, and eternal ones, such as a lovers' quarrel or a mother-daughter misunderstanding. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Five Seasons
A novel
by A.B. Yehoshua, Hillel Halkin (Translator)
Harcourt; October 2004
In the autumn, Molkho's wife dies and his years of loving attention are ended. But his newfound freedom is filled with the erotic fantasies of a man who must fall in love. Winter sees him away to the operas of Berlin and a comic tryst with a legal advisor who has a sprained ankle. Spring takes him to Galilee and an underage Indian girl. Jerusalem in the summer presents him with an offer from an old classmate to seduce his infertile wife. And the next autumn it is Nina (if only they spoke the same language!), whose yearning for her Russian home leads Molkho back to life Five Seasons is a finely nuanced, unabashedly realistic novel that provides immense reading pleasure. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] I LOVE LORD BUDDHA
A TRANSLATION WITH COMMENTARY
by HILLARY RAPHAEL
Creation Books; (October 15, 2004).
I LOVE LORD BUDDHA is the transgressive, transcendent first novel that some are calling the future of literature, and others are calling a post-pornographic revolution. Set in late-90's Tokyo, it recounts the history of the Neo-Geisha Organization, a sex-and-death cult with an anti-consumerist, pro-hedonist, sub-Buddhist ideology. The cult is led by Hiyoko, a leggy Westerner with a penchant for Eastern philosophy and drug-fuelled sex binges. Her followers are the young women whose curiosity and perfect bodies have taken them thousands of miles from home to work in Tokyo's neon-lit network of hostess bars. I LOVE LORD BUDDHA takes its inspiration from the classical Japanese literature of the first millennium, the AUM Shinrikyo subway-gas cult, and the esoteric texts of Buddhism, while recalling the ultra-modern iconography of films like Kill Bill 1. Reading like manga, sounding like hard techno, feeling like fetish, I LOVE LORD BUDDHA paves the way for a new literature of undiluted aesthetics and ecstasy. Hillary Raphael is 28 and lives in New York and Tokyo. A student of Japanese avant-garde dance, she is in such great shape, that when she became stranded on a hike in Mizpa Ramon crater in the Negev in Israel, she hiked so far, that rescuers were amazed she made it so far in such little time. I LOVE LORD BUDDHA is her first novel. If you ask me, F*king Jay McInnerney should take take writing lessons from her. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] CROSSING CALIFORNIA
A NOVEL
by ADAM LANGER
June 3, 2004. Riverhead Books.
Get out your 'Heart' and 'Boston' albums. Crossing California is a novel about two generations of family and friendship in Chicago from November 1979 through January 1981. (Langer, a former drama critic for the Chicago Reader, grew up in West Rogers Park and Evanston) In 1979, California Avenue, in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, separates the upper-middle-class Jewish families from the mostly middle-class Jewish residents on the east of the divide. This by turns funny and heartbreaking first novel tells the story of three families and their teenage children living on either side of California, following their loves, heartaches, and friendships during a memorable moment of American history. Langer's captivating portraits, his uncanny and extraordinarily vivid re-creation of a not-so-past time and place, and his pitch-perfect dialogue all make Crossing California certain to evoke memories and longing in its readers-as well as laughter and anxiety. PW WRITES "Langer's brilliant debut uses that divide as a metaphor for the changes that occur in the lives of three neighborhood families: the Rovners, the Wasserstroms and the Wills. There are two macro-stories-the courtship of Charlie Wasserstrom and Gail Shiffler-Bass, and the alienation of Jill Wasserstrom from her best friend, Muley Wills-but what really counts here is the exuberance of overlapping subplots. One pole of the book is represented by Ellen Rovner, a therapist whose marriage to Michael dissolves over the course of the book (much to Ellen's relief: she's so distrustful of Michael that she fakes not having an orgasm when they make love). If Ellen embodies cool, intelligent disenchantment, her son, Larry, represents the opposite pole of pure self-centeredness. As Larry sees it, his choice is between becoming a rock star with his band, Rovner!, and getting a lot of sex-or going to Brandeis, becoming successful and getting a lot of sex. The east side Wasserstrom girls exist between these poles: Michelle, the eldest, is rather slutty, flighty and egotistical, but somehow raises her schemes (remaining the high school drama club queen, for instance) to a higher level, while Jill, a seventh-grade contrarian who shocks her Hebrew School teachers with defenses of Ayatollah Khomeini and quotes Nkrumah at her bat mitvah, is still emotionally dazed from her mother's death." Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] [book] NATASHA
AND OTHER STORIES
by David Bezmozgis
Farrar Straus & Giroux; 1st edition (June 9, 2004)
Few readers had heard of David Bezmozgis before last May, when Harper's, Zoetrope, and The New Yorker all printed stories from his forthcoming collection. In the space of a few weeks, these magazines introduced America to the Bermans - Bella and Roman and their son, Mark - Russian Jews who have fled the Riga of Brezhnev for Toronto, the city of their dreams. Told through Mark's eyes, and spanning the last twenty-three years, Natasha brings the Bermans and the Russian-Jewish enclaves of Toronto to life in stories full of big, desperate, utterly believable consequence. In "Tapka" six-year-old Mark's first experiments in English bring ruin and near tragedy to the neighbors upstairs. When Tapka is hit by a car, it is symbolic of the injury of the past. There will no longer be any stability. In "Roman Berman, Massage Therapist," Roman and Bella stake all their hopes for Roman's business on their first, humiliating dinner in a North American home. As they wait for someone to respond to his ad.. well as everyone wait and wonders if anyone will call, Bella bakes a cake for Dr. Kornblum, their Toronto Jewish potential benefactor. But he rejects it, since maybe it isn't kosher enough for him. Even though they spent so much on the ingredients. Critics has anointed "The Second Strongest Man" as one of the best crafted short stories in several years. Later, in the title story, a stark, funny anatomy of first love, we witness Mark's sexual awakening at the hands of his fourteen-year-old cousin, a new immigrant from the New Russia, and a former, yes you guessed it, child kiddie porn star. You will notice that as Mark ages in the stories, he differs in each. This is refreshing, since it shows how people change over time and shed their old selves. In "Minyan," Mark and his grandfather watch as the death of a tough old Odessan cabdriver sets off a religious controversy among the poor residents of a Jewish old-folks' home. Two old Jewish widowers move in together. Are they just lonely, or are they a pair of latent homosexual Holocaust survivors? When Itzik dies, Herschel's eulogy, well his walk to the pulpit with his slowness, defeat, and crooked back, is itself a eulogy of pain and unspeakable grief. The stories in Natasha capture the immigrant experience with a serious wit as compelling as the work of Jhumpa Lahiri, Nathan Englander, Babel, Malamud, or Adam Haslett. At the same time, their evocation of boyhood and youth, and the battle for selfhood in a passionately loving Jewish family, recalls the first published stories of Harold Brodkey, Leonard Michaels, and Philip Roth. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist
(Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist)
by Michael Chabon
Spring 2004. Dark Horse.
Master of Elusion, foe of tyranny, and champion of liberation - The Escapist! Operating from a secret headquarters under the boards of the majestic Empire Theater, the Escapist and his crack team of charismatic associates roam the globe, performing amazing feats of magic to aid all those who languish in oppression's chains. The history of his creators, Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay, was recently chronicled in Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. The best of the Escapist's adventures are now collected into one volume for all to enjoy! This thrilling volume of Michael Chabon Presents... The Amazing Adventures of The Escapist collects the first two issues of the comic book and features an original story penned by Michael Chabon, the comics debut of novelist Glen David Gold, a new story written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, the painted artwork of Bill Sienkiewicz, and a wraparound cover by Chris Ware. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] POLITICAL ANIMAL
A NOVEL
by DAVID MIZNER
Consortium; (September 15, 2004)
PW WRITES: A young speechwriter meets the unlikely woman of his dreams during campaign season in Mizner's sharp, very funny novel. "I'm eating Kung Pao chicken and listening to people tell lies," begins Ben Bergin, the sloppy but likable protagonist. "This is where we have staff meetings, where we make decisions that get overturned by decisions made in smaller rooms." Rep. Arnie Schechter (D.-N.Y.) is running for senator, and about the only thing that makes the campaign tolerable for Ben is the presence of Calliope Berkowitz, the beautiful, zaftig and sharp-tongued volunteer coordinator who becomes his coconspirator in office politics and outrageous wisecracks. Most of the novel deals with the slow, ambiguous simmer leading up to their boiling romance, set against the backdrop of the Schechter campaign and a politically and racially charged murder case. Mizner's take on politics ("Liberalism, I grant, could use a shave and a haircut, if not an enema..."; "the bigger the office, the bigger the robot") are wry and trenchant (he's a former speechwriter), and Ben's odes to Calli's sex appeal are alternately raunchy and romantic. Some Clinton-related controversies seem a bit quaint in the post-9/11 political landscape, but Mizner's cutting commentary on New York politics, its attendant disillusionments and its diverse supporting cast more than compensate. A deftly handled blend of romance and politics, this is a smart and fun debut. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Fortress of Solitude
A novel
by JONATHAN LETHEM
Vintage; (Summer 2004)
NOW IN PAPERBACK This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, Boerum Hill, between the Heights, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Park Slope, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as "gentrification." The protagonist of the novel is Dylan Ebdus, who arrives on Dean Street in 1970 when he is 5 years old. His father, Abraham, is a painter and a recluse. The more massive presence in Dylan's life is his mother, Rachel. She is young, wildly articulate in the manner of Brooklynites, a pot-smoker, a Nixon-hater. She is fiercely protective of her son, but also wants him to grow up as a street kid to acquire street smarts. So she sends him to P.S. 38 rather than Packer Collegiate or St. Ann's, and at one point Dylan overhears her boasting to a friend that her son is the only white child in his school. What she doesn't say, what she might not even notice, is that he is learning next to nothing, and getting mugged by black children almost every day. This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the most simple human decisions-what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money-are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is the story of 1990s America, when no one cared anymore. This is the story of punk, that easy white rebellion, and crack, that monstrous plague. This is the story of the loneliness of the avant-garde artist and the exuberance of the graffiti artist. This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: They would screw up their lives. This is the story of joyous afternoons of stickball and dreaded years of schoolyard extortion. This is the story of belonging to a society that doesn't accept you. This is the story of prison and of college, of Brooklyn and Berkeley, of soul and rap, of murder and redemption. Periodically, one of the characters sitting on a stoop or leaning out an open window for air will pause to take the temperature of the block, and it is almost always summer: "Brooklyn was a tropical place, faint marimba notes suspended in the yellow air, now a Mister Softee truck's incessant, circular tune, rising and falling like an ambulance whine as it positioned itself on Bergen, Bond, Dean, Pacific, drawing sluggish kids like ants to a soda spill. Manhattan seemed a thousand miles away, another city." For the last 200 pages of the novel, Lethem switches from the third person to the first, confining himself to Dylan's voice. Dylan has grown up. He is a music journalist in California, writing liner notes for boxed sets of oldies. But he never stops thinking about his childhood in Gowanus ("My childhood is the only part of my life that wasn't, uh, overwhelmed by my childhood," he tells his understandably exasperated black girlfriend), and in the last part of the book he tries to fathom the sources of this haunting and to do something about it. Why is it Jewish?? Cuz as you read it, you realize they must be Jewish, and it is alluded to around page 430. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] JOY COMES IN THE MORNING
A NOVEL
by JONATHAN ROSEN
Farrar, Straus and Giroux; (September 15, 2004)
Who better to write a novel about a rabbi, than a real life rabbi's husband?
Rabbi Deborah Green is a woman of passionate contradictions--a rabbi who craves goodness and surety while wrestling with her own desires and with the sorrow and pain she sees around her. Her life changes when, as a hospital chaplain, she visits the hospital room of Henry Friedman, an older man who has attempted suicide. His parents were murdered in the Holocaust when he was a child, and all his life he's struggled with difficult questions: Can happiness really come after such loss, or does the very wish profane the dead? Can religious promises ever bring peace? Deborah's encounter with Henry and his family draws her into a world of tragedy, frailty, love, and, finally, hope. Henry's son, Lev, is a skeptic and science writer. Lev recently fled from his wedding to a non-Jewish woman. He feels overshadowed by his brother, Jacob, a genius. Lev's friend, Neal Marcus, has had his energetic mind derailed by schizophrenia. Of course, you know that Lev will embark on a tentative relationship with Rabbi Green. The New Yorker called Rosen's first novel "An impressive debut--a highly original addition to the distinguished line of Jewish-American romances." He has fulfilled the promise of his first fiction in this contemporary story of classic scope, whose characters hunger for love, grapple with faith and doubt, and seek to bind themselves to something sacred in the midst of modern chaos. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] OLD SCHOOL
A novel
by TOBIAS WOLFF
Vintage, (Summer 2004) paperback edition
Acclaimed short story and non fiction writer, Mr. Wolff's (Stanford), first Novel. Determined to fit in at his New England prep school (1960-1961), the narrator has learned to mimic the bearing and manners of his adoptive tribe while concealing as much as possible about himself. He is passing, he is an outsider, his father is Jewish, he is on scholarship, he is middle class in an elite school filled with the sons of rich men. His final year, however, unravels everything he's achieved, and steers his destiny in directions no one could have predicted. The school's mystique is rooted in Literature, and for many boys this becomes an obsession, editing the review and competing for the attention of visiting writers whose fame helps to perpetuate the tradition. Robert Frost, soon to appear at JFK's inauguration, is far less controversial than the next visitor, Ayn Rand. But the final guest, Ernest Hemingway, is one whose blessing a young writer would do almost anything to gain. Note to readers. Tobias Wolff is of Irish and Jewish heritage. His father hid the fact that he was Jewish. Wolff stated, "...I think he [my father] was pretending, out of some deep sadness of self, that he was someone other than who he was. He had this sort of pathetic WASP fantasy. I used to think it was the prep schools he went to, where there was a lot of anti-Semitism. But as my brother was doing his research for a book about my father, it became his opinion that the most influential anti-Semitism my father encountered when he was growing up was from Jews, because his relatives were German Jews, and doctors. Our grandfather was a doctor and our great-grandfather was a doctor and our great-great grandfather was a doctor to Napoleon, and they were very proud and insular. When this great wave of immigrants came here at the turn of the century - Jews from Poland, from Russia - they were looked down on by the German Jews who called them Yids and Hebes and all this stuff. The German Jews were very secularized, very unobservant, very assimilationist. And my father picked up a lot of this stuff. It's a very strange business. . Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] An Hour in Paradise: Stories
by Joan Leegant
W. W. Norton & Company; (Summer 2004) paperback edition
Joan Leegant's collection takes its title from the Yiddish proverb "Even an hour in Paradise is worthwhile." In settings from Jerusalem to Queens, from Hollywood's outskirts to Sarasota, Florida, the characters in this mesmerizing debut collection are drawn to the seductions of religion, soldiering on in search of divine and human connection. A former drug dealer turned yeshiva student faces his past with a dying AIDS patient. A disaffected American in the ancient city of Safed ventures into Kabbalist mysticism and gets more than he bargained for. A rabbi whose morning minyan is visited by a pair of Siamese twins considers the possibility that his guests are not mere mortals. An aging Jerusalemite chronicles his country's changes during the biblical year of rest. By turns poignant and comic, unflinching and compassionate-with a dose of fabulist daring-An Hour in Paradise explores the dangers and unforeseen rewards of our most fundamental longings. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] [philip roth] THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA
A NOVEL
by PHILIP ROTH
Houghton Mifflin Company; (October 1, 2004)
The most anticipated book of Fall 2004.
It was amazing to read this during the RNC Convention.... Shudder.
The book opens in 1940. June. Philip Roth, his older brother, and his parents are living in a small Newark apartment in a Jewish neighborhood. Philip's father is selling insurance for Met Life; he declines an offer for a position in management, which would require him to manage some drunk Christians and move his family to a non-Jewish area of NJ. It is 1940, an election year, FDR is running for reelection. It is a hot night, when the deadlocked Republicans offer up Lindbergh as their Presidential candidate to run against FDR. Lindbergh had just given an awful speech criticizing the evil Jews, just like Ford and Reverend Coughlin. Walter Winchell, the greatest Jew after Einstein in 1940, lashes out against Lindbergh; the Jews feel relieved. But when the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invades every Jewish household in America. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America towards a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but upon taking office as the thirty-third president of the United States, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and virulent anti-Semitic policies Lindbergh appeare to accept without diffculty. What then followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new book by Pulitzer Prize-winner Philip Roth, who recounts what it was like for his Newark family - and for a million such families all over the country - during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.
Best among the chapters is Loudmouth Jew, in which the family visit Washington DC after Lindbergh has entered the White House. Roth delivers powerful, supremely crafted sentences. His portrayal of splits in families and the Jewish leadership are on target. Philip's family becomes a microcosm for the nation, as his brother, Aunt, and rabbi side with Lindbergh; his cousin is maimed, and his father remains committed against Lindbergh.
In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House, and in 2002 received the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. Click the book cover above to read more.
Click here for the Audio Book for those who would rather listen to it





[book] Songbird
A Novel
by Walter Zacharius
Atria; (September 14, 2004)
Booklist writes: Through the truth of one young Jewish woman's viewpoint, this searing first novel covers a huge sweep of Holocaust history even as it offers an intimate view of the personal-survivor experience. It could be 10 novels, but the clear, gripping first-person narrative is a breathless read. Mia Levy, a rich, gorgeous teenager in Lodz, Poland, and later a music student in Paris, is transported by the Nazis to Treblinka with her family. Pushed off the train by her father, she joins the partisans in the Warsaw Ghetto, escapes to Switzerland, and gets a visa to visit relatives in New York. Once in the U.S., she falls in love with a musician, never thinks of her past, never talks about her family, and tries to fit in in an America that doesn't want to know. After Pearl Harbor, though, she is recruited by the French Resistance to work in a Paris brothel, where she services sadomasochistic Nazi officers and extracts secrets for the Allies. After the war, her family dead, her home in Lodz stolen, she flees to Palestine. The historical detail is authentic, and the passionate story takes you with her, so drawn into her world that you are shocked to discover what you knew about her past and that she has made you forget. The Paris espionage story is absolutely compelling, especially the shock of who is betraying--and killing--whom. Only the hint of the lovers' reunion may be too hopeful. Daughter, pianist, fighter, killer, refugee, whore, lover: What does survival mean? Click the book cover above to read more.









[book cover click here] THE FIRST DESIRE
by NANCY REISMAN
Anchor (Summer 2005)
Now in paperback. 1929. Buffalo, New York. A beautiful July day, the kind one waits for through the long, cold winters. Sadie Feldstein, née Cohen, looks out her window at the unexpected sight of her brother, Irving. His news is even more unexpected, and unsettling: their elder sister, Goldie, has vanished without a trace. With Goldie's disappearance as the catalyst, The First Desire takes us deep into the life of the Cohen family and an American city, from the Great Depression to the years immediately following World War II. The story of the Cohens is seamlessly told from the various perspectives of siblings Sadie, Jo, Goldie, and Irving-each of whose worlds is upended over the course of the novel, the smooth veneer of their lives giving way to the vulnerabilities and secrets they've managed to keep hidden-and through the eyes of Lillian, the beautiful woman their father, Abe, took as a lover as his wife was dying. But while Abe's affair with Lillian stuns his children, they are even more shocked by his cold anger in the wake of Goldie's disappearance. The First Desire is a book of great emotional power that brings to life the weave of love, grief, tradition, and desire that binds a family together, even through the tumultuous times that threaten to tear it apart. Click the book cover above to read more.








[book] The First Desire
A novel by Nancy Reisman
September 2004. Pantheon Books.
Set in the years after 1929 and the Depression, a novel about Sadie Feldstein (nee Cohen) and the disappearance of her sister Goldie. A Buffalo family personifies quiet desperation. Abraham, a dour jeweler, is the widower-patriarch of the Cohen family, who occupy a rambling house on tree-lined Lancaster Street, a powerfully traditional Jewish home that Abraham's four daughters and one son struggle to escape from with varying degrees of success. Ponderous, incantatory prose and painstaking attention to mundane domestic detail, not to mention much interior musing, slow the narrative but deepen our identification with the characters' plights. Taking place in the 1930s and '40s, the story is told from the points of view of second daughter Sadie, who finds provisional refuge in marriage to a dentist; Goldie, the oldest, who immigrated late, with her mother, from Ukraine and is hence a stranger to her father; middle child Jo, a latent lesbian who rebels against being forced into the role of surrogate mother when Goldie bolts; and baby brother Irving, spoiled from birth, perennially torn between pressures to conform to the bourgeois values of a tight-knit Jewish community and the temptations of loose women and gambling. The Depression, along with the pre- and post-WWII eras, are evoked vividly, as is the sense of a vise gradually tightening upon Abe's children as one after another they either accept their lot as family servants or act out their frustrations-in the meantime competing to escape the threatening, feared, and imprisoning burden of youngest daughter Celia's mental "peculiarity." Abe's mistress, Lillian, longs for marriage but is ultimately thankful for not having been dragged into the "morass" of the Cohenhousehold. Goldie's self-realization as she slips off the coils of her hometown is the only hopeful note in this grimly purposeful tale, where the fog of seething resentments (Niagara is a recurring symbol) can't entirely obscure sporadic gleams of familial love. Beneath the sepia tint, fully imagined lives. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Someone Not Really Her Mother
A novel
by Harriet Scott Chessman
Dutton; (Summer 2004)
Hannah Pearl can't remember whether the nursing home aide is her daughter, her sister, or a stranger. She can't remember whether she is still a Jew in occupied France in 1940, in England during and after the war, or in America raising her daughter alone. Does she speak French or English? She has Alzheimer's, and the very memories of losing her entire family in the concentration camps and her husband in a freak accident are the only ones clear to her anymore. Her past is shattered, who knows what the future has in store. What happens when you put the past behind you to start over in America, and now you can only remember these past events, and since you never spoke of them, your child and grandchild can not understand these events in your lucid moments. She is alone in her secret memories. Her daughter, Miranda, waits for the brief moments her mother knows her to tell her what is happening in her life. But she never was told much about her mother's wartime tragedies or her biological father who died prior to Miranda's birth. Her granddaughter, Ida, wants to put Hannah's life in a poem but is too late to catch the memories. And Fiona is haunted by the lost family in France. Told through the voices of these four women, the novel intricately reveals the fleetingness of memory and the delicate lacework of love between mothers and daughters. Chessman manages to explore some major themes: memory, family history, personal identity and the redemptive power of art. A chilling portrait of mental disintegration, "Someone Not Really Her Mother" also captures the heartbreak of a family bereft of history. The women in Hannah's family -- Miranda, who is "trying to live in the present" and her daughters Fiona, a new mother, and Ida, a college senior hell-bent on understanding Hannah's life -- are haunted by the bits of the story that they know and the horrors they imagine. Click the book cover above to read more.









[book cover] THE MATZO BALL HEIRESS
A novel
by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Red Dress Harlequin. April 2004.
Q: How does Heather Greenblotz, the 31-year-old heiress to the world's leading matzo company, spend Passover?
A: Alone. In her Manhattan apartment. With an extremely unkosher ham and cheese panini.
But this year will be different. The Food Channel has asked to film the famous Greenblotz Matzo family's seder, and the publicity opportunity is too good to, ahem, PASS OVER. Heather is being courted by the handsome host and the subtly sexy cameraman, and she's got family coming out of her ears. It's enough to make a formerly dateless heiress feel like a princess.





[book] The View from Stalin's Head
by AARON HAMBURGER
March 2004, paperback Random House
THE STORY OF Young JEWS WHO "REVERSE MIGRATE" to Prague in search of "Jewish" identities
The Washington Post writes, "This debut collection of stories, most of them set in Prague, brings to mind the dream Kenneth Tynan tells of in his diaries in which his friend Antonia Fraser is asked if it's true that she has converted to Judaism. "Yes," she says. "But as Dr. Jonathan Miller once said, 'I'm not a Jew. I'm Jew-ish.' " The narrators of several of these 10 clunky and unpolished tales are American, gay and Jewish, but the most urgent question in the stories is the extent to which the characters will embrace any categorical identity. " 'Art is my religion,' " the narrator says in "Exile." " 'I'm not a big fan of Judaism. It excludes certain groups, like women.' I paused. 'And fags.' " He's not quite comfortable with being a Jew, but he's obsessed with the fact that he's Jewish. His commitment -- even to the religion of art -- is halfhearted at best. In the same story, the narrator asks a Czech friend if he agrees that Milan Kundera is a genius. The friend replies that he's never read Kundera's books, and then the narrator admits to himself that he "only made it halfway through" one of Kundera's novels but had just "wanted to offer a compliment" to his friend's country..." PW writes, "Callow young Americans grapple uneasily with Judaism and homosexuality as they navigate a cruddy, crumbling post-Communist Prague in this debut collection. The 10 hit-or-miss stories capture a narrow spectrum of expatriate life, populated by characters uncomfortable in their own skins; this awkwardness is the focus of Hamburger's best efforts. In "A Man of the Country," the protagonist endures a yearlong semiflirtation with massive, handsome Jirka, growing ever more frustrated ("I'm more than an asexual sidekick or polite, helpful English teacher"), but never quite willing to take the initiative. In "Exile," the artist-pornographer protagonist infiltrates a tiny Jewish community led by a fierce, closeted lesbian and makes friends with an eccentric Czech student of theology. The theology student also appears in "Jerusalem," seduced by insecure American expatriate Rachel after they meet at an Israeli folk-dancing class. Rachel, obsessed by her weight and her nagging Jewish mother, is little more than a caricature; this is also true of Debra, the activist protagonist of "You Say You Want a Revolution" ("She didn't want a family, not the traditional kind. She didn't want diapers and graham crackers and apple juice"), and Sarah, a strident tourist visiting Prague in "This Ground You Are Standing On." Hamburger overshoots the mark with these attempts at satire, but his sketches of oddball Prague natives are sharp and affectionate and his evocation of Prague in the 1990s (cheap Vietnamese markets, tough beef and sour cabbage, expatriate cafes) is vivid and unexpected." Click the book cover above to read more.



[book] WAR STORY
by GWEN EDELMAN
paperback
Seduced by the Holocaust??
Kitty and Joseph meet in a bookstore in New York. She is thirty-two, an aspiring writer. He is sixty, a Viennese Jew, a famous playwright who survived the Holocaust. In a faded bohemian hotel, they begin an obsessive and all-consuming affair. Night after night he spins stories for her, tales of prewar Vienna, his childhood in Amsterdam hiding from the Nazis, his literary triumphs, the countless women he has loved and left. One day, he tells her, he will leave her too. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] THOSE WHO SAVE US
A NOVEL
by JENNA BLUM
April 2004, HARCOURT
For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmführer of Buchenwald. Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life. Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame. Note: The Author, Jenna Blum, used to work for Spielberg's Shoah History projects. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] THERAPY
A mystery
by JONATHAN KELLERMAN
April 2004, BALLANTINE
"Been a while since I had me a nice little whodunit," homicide detective Milo Sturgis tells Alex Delaware. But there's definitely nothing nice about the brutal tableau behind the yellow crime-scene tape. On a lonely lover's lane in the hills of Los Angeles, a young couple lies murdered in a car. Each bears a single gunshot wound to the head. The female victim has also been impaled by a metal spike. And that savage stroke of psychopathic fury tells Milo this case will call for more than standard police procedure. As he explains to Delaware, "Now we're veering into your territory." It is dark territory, indeed. The dead woman remains unidentified and seemingly unknown to everyone. But her companion has a name: Gavin Quick-and his troubled past eventually landed him on a therapist's couch. It's there, on familiar turf, that Delaware hopes to find vital clues. And that means going head-to-head with Dr. Mary Lou Koppel, a popular celebrity psychologist who fiercely guards the privacy of her clients . . . dead or alive. But when there's another gruesomely familiar murder, Delaware surmises that his investigation has struck a nerve. As he trolls the twisted wreckage of Quick's tormented last days, what he finds isn't madness, but the cold-blooded method behind it. And as he follows a chain of greed, corruption, and betrayal snaking hideously through the profession he thought he knew, he'll discover territory where even he never dreamed of treading. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] The Joy of Funerals
A Novel in Stories
by Alix Strauss
Griffin Trade Paperback; April 1, 2004, paperback.
I have heard of reading obits to find apartments.. but attending funerals to find dates?? Ummm.. some people put bananas on their Rice Krispies. Other put the ashes of their dead husband on their morning cereal. Helen, a woman with chutzpa pays a Shiva call to the wife of her psychiatrist with whom she was having a sexual affair, and she steals the ashes; a young widow, Leslie, lusts after men she meets in cemeteries; a daughter aches; a shopaholic hungers; Karen stakes out a diner in hopes of finding her lover's killer; another woman wonders whether the man who just died (her blind date) was the man she was destined to marry... The Joy of Funerals is a riveting collection that explores the lives of nine young women, each willing to take drastic measures to fill the voids created by longing and loneliness. The first eight face death differently, while the ninth woman Nina ties them all together by attending funerals in her search to connect with others. Written with raw wit, mordant humor and a uniquely penetrating voice, Strauss turns the spotlight on loss and grief. In the vein of Six Feet Under, this is a provocative look into the inner world of those left behind, and those still holding on. Click to read more.






[book] MUCH ADO ABOUT JESSIE KAPLAN
by Paula Marantz Cohen
May 2004. St Martin's
Paula Marantz Cohen's triumphant first novel, Jane Austen in Boca, was an inspired blend of classic English literature and modern American manners. Her new novel heads north to the seemingly quiet suburban town of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for a comedy that even Shakespeare couldn't have imagined. Carla Goodman is worried. Her husband, a gastroenterologist in private practice, is coming home frazzled because medicine isn't what it used to be. Her son's teachers want to put him on Ritalin to stop him from wreaking havoc on the fifth grade. And her cranky twelve-year-old daughter has a bas mitzvah coming up. But it's Carla's sweet, widowed mother, Jessie Kaplan, who really has her baffled. Jessie has suddenly "remembered" that she was Shakespeare's girlfriend---the Dark Lady of the sonnets---in a previous life. Can even the famed Dr. Leonard Samuels, psychiatrist and author of the self-help book How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My Mother-in-Law, help with problems like these? Witty, engaging, and wickedly observant, Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan is an unpredictable tale of love, loss, and family rites of passage. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] THE PLACE WILL COMFORT YOU
STORIES
by NAMA GOLDSTEIN
May 2004. SCRIBNER
Is Nama Goldstein the new Grace Paley??
PW writes: "Set in Israel and suburban America, this funny, moving debut collection mines the rich complexities of cultural dislocation in the idiom of in between. "I know -- I understand with the full feeling of living life -- that you can be of one place and another, not at all the same," says the bilingual third-grade narrator of "The Conduct for Consoling." Goldstein, an American who grew up in Israel, writes eloquently of the longing for home, evoking the material differences between her two countries with a few telling details: a certain breakfast cereal, a prime-time television program or a tiled floor. America both entices and disturbs the Israeli children in "A Pillar of a Cloud," who glimpse it through a visiting cousin casually offering a Sloppy Joe sandwich to an Arab worker. In scenes like these, Goldstein depicts a loaded situation with unexpected originality through her artfully off-kilter syntax and whimsical characters, both insightful and self-deluded. In "A Verse in the Margins," Goldstein conjures the misguided high school teacher Mr. Durchschlag in a single sentence: "With every unclish wink to every blush of theirs the world revolved more steadily, the proper ratio of this to that restored." Even the most limited characters in these eight stories are likable: Shulee, the rebellious Israeli teen in "The Roberto Touch," remains sympathetic though she behaves badly on a school trip. As generous as it is unsentimental, this resonant collection captivates and provokes. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] CLEARING THE AISLE
A Novel
by KAREN SCHWARTZ
May 2004. SCRIBNER
PW writes, "For 20-something Rachel Silverstein, finding the right guy to marry was the easy part - she'd known her now-fiancé, whom she met during her freshman year in college, for about two minutes before she started referring to him as "the love of my life Dan Gershon." Luckily, Dan returned the affection - but now they have to plan the wedding to prove it, as Rachel's motley crew of family and friends weigh in on an event that is quickly spinning out of control. A writer for a popular young adult novel series, Rachel is living the dream - sort of - of making a living through her craft while enjoying plenty of time to explore her beloved adopted city of New York. But her skinflint father and social-climbing stepmother are issuing sign-and-return ultimatums to her semi-estranged mother, the poster child for borderline personality disorder. Meanwhile, Dan's parents, apparently still mired in the 1950s, blissfully plan a breadwinner-father-stay-at-home-mother existence for the happy couple. Bridesmaid Naomi wants an edgy, experimental dress, and voice-of-reason Aunt Natalie is overcome by familial forces and retreats to the background to dispense martinis and offer a shoulder to cry on. What's a girl to do? Wry observations of young New York life from a bagels-and-lox-at-Barney-Greengrass perspective instead of a Manolos-and-Cosmos-at-Balthazar angle are refreshing, and the hints of JEWISH LIFE in New York are atmospheric and charming. Schwartz, a columnist for the New York Sun, offers a pleasant and witty, if somewhat familiar, tale of wedding woes." Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] SARAH
By Marek Halter
Translated from Frnech by Howard Curtis

May 2004. CROWN
Booklist writes, "With the success of The Red Tent (1997), the women of the Bible became fair game for writers of historical fiction. This novel about Sarah is grounded in its biblical source material even as it twists tales all its own. Halter's Sarah, already a best-seller in France, begins at that matriarch's tomb in Hebron, where she awaits her death and remembers her life. In Halter's telling, Sarah is no willing handmaiden of the one God. A Sumerian girl raised in luxury, she runs away from an arranged marriage and takes an elixir that stops menstruation; so instead of a wife, she becomes a high priestess of Ishtar. But her love for Abraham, whom she has met briefly, sustains her and leads her back to him. Halter works hard at establishing some feminist bona fides for her heroine ("Sarah is the prototype of the free woman"), but however beguiling such speculation may be, there is a tendency here to pass off legend as fact. Still, the writing is lively and shimmering with detail, and if some aspects of Sarah's story seem surprisingly truncated (the binding of Isaac, for example), the tale rolls along smoothly and, with the help of a big push from the publisher, just may hit it big on the book-club circuit. Sarah is the first in Halter's Canaan trilogy, which will conclude with novels about Lilah and Zipporah." Click to read more.





[book] The Dark Sister
a novel
by Rebecca Goldstein

May 2004. University of Wisconsin
Reissue. If you like the fiction of Henry James, the psychology of his brother William, and have a taste for Gothic mysteries you will enjoy The Dark Sister. The novel is a curious mixture of the Victorian repressiveness about sex, intricate stories within stories, and Jewish humor. Click to read more.





[book] Natasha : And Other Stories
by David Bezmozgis
Farrar Straus & Giroux; 1st edition (June 9, 2004)
Few readers had heard of David Bezmozgis before last May, when Harper's, Zoetrope, and The New Yorker all printed stories from his forthcoming collection. In the space of a few weeks, these magazines introduced America to the Bermans-Bella and Roman and their son, Mark-Russian Jews who have fled the Riga of Brezhnev for Toronto, the city of their dreams. Told through Mark's eyes, and spanning the last twenty-three years, Natasha brings the Bermans and the Russian-Jewish enclaves of Toronto to life in stories full of big, desperate, utterly believable consequence. In "Tapka" six-year-old Mark's first experiments in English bring ruin and near tragedy to the neighbors upstairs. In "Roman Berman, Massage Therapist," Roman and Bella stake all their hopes for Roman's business on their first, humiliating dinner in a North American home. Later, in the title story, a stark, funny anatomy of first love, we witness Mark's sexual awakening at the hands of his fourteen-year-old cousin, a new immigrant from the New Russia. In "Minyan," Mark and his grandfather watch as the death of a tough old Odessan cabdriver sets off a religious controversy among the poor residents of a Jewish old-folks' home. The stories in Natasha capture the immigrant experience with a serious wit as compelling as the work of Jhumpa Lahiri, Nathan Englander, or Adam Haslett. At the same time, their evocation of boyhood and youth, and the battle for selfhood in a passionately loving Jewish family, recalls the first published stories of Bernard Malamud, Harold Brodkey, Leonard Michaels, and Philip Roth. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] A GIRL BECOMES A COMMA LIKE THAT
by LISA GLATT
June 2004. Simon and Schuster
Glatt writes smoothly
PW writes: "A girl becomes a comma like that, with wrong boy after wrong boy," muses the narrator of Glatt's keenly observed debut. "She becomes a pause, something quick before the real thing." Rachel Spark, a 30-ish university poetry teacher, is looking for the real thing - but she's also living in L.A with her mother, "because she was sick and because I was poor.... It was love, yes, but need was part of it too." As her mother slowly succumbs to breast cancer, Rachel seeks solace - and escape - in the arms of various unsuitable men. Glatt's tone shifts through comic, pensive and mournful as she also explores the lives of Rachel's newlywed student, Ella Bloom; her lovelorn, allergy-challenged best friend, Angela Burrows; and Georgia Carter, a promiscuous 16-year-old patient at the health clinic where Ella works and where Rachel later seeks an abortion. Repeated references to breasts, limbs and organs in discomfort and disease foreground these women's uneasy relationships with their bodies and their lives; drunken and sorrowful sex abounds; connections with men are made and then broken. Rachel loves her mother, but disapproves of her shedding her wig, ordering a vibrator and falling in love in the face of death. As the dying woman - Glatt's liveliest character - evicts Rachel from her hospital room, readers may sympathize: much earlier, mother has diagnosed daughter, "You're thirty. Of course you need connection." Glatt's clear-eyed rendering of the complexities of relationships between friends and family enriches a story in which the steps toward healing are small and tentative, but moving nevertheless. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] JONAH AND SARAH
Jewish Stories of Russia and America
Edited by David Shraer-Petrov and Maxim D. Shrayer
Fall 2003. Syracuse
Love, talent, and magic oppose-and sometimes vanquish-anti-Semitism, totalitarianism, and vulgarity in this collection of new and selected stories by David Shrayer-Petrov. From the deceptively simple narratives Apple Cider Vinegar and Hurricane Bob to the surrealist story Dismemberers and the magical tales Jonah and Sarah and Lanskoy Road, the tempo fluctuates, but throughout, David Shrayer-Petrov seamlessly preserves familiar voices. The stories have a genuine feel of the setting and epoch-the Russian stories work as narratives of everyday life, while the American stories offer an accurate sense of an émigré's alienation. Like all good works of fiction, these stories take on a mythic quality and transcend time and place. Each carries and communicates to the reader an aura of mystery, the enigma of love, and a meeting of the Jewish past and present. Whether he invokes lyrical dialogue, gentle irony, or sharp polemical discourse, Shrayer-Petrov shows that he is a powerful presence in Russian and Jewish literature. For those interested in fiction about new immigrants to America or in the psychology of Jews in the two decades before the Soviet Union's collapse. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] Human Parts
by Orly Castel-Bloom, translated by Dalya Bilu
January 2004.
The English translation of the celebrated Hebrew novel from 2003, set during the Intifada in Israel. To portray the fragmented, fateful daily existence of the average Israeli, Castel-Bloom's four major characters -- Kati, Adir, Iris and Tasaro and their diverse constellations of families -- are tracked in a ferociously paced narrative. Kati and Tasaro are new immigrants from Kurdistan and Ethiopia respectively. Kati grew up in the Ramle transit camp and never finished grade school. When her husband, Boaz, chose to marry her, he was disinherited. She bluntly accuses his family of racism, but admits they couldn't help themselves, "Israeli society was in a state of infancy. Today everything is more open." And Tasaro is scorned by her family in Netanya because necessity forced her to become a sex worker at the central bus station, where she was saved by her current partner, Adir, who helped her become a model for television. The contrast between Adir's upper-class Ashkenazi family and Tasaro's, and between Boaz's established Sephardi family and Kati's, is devastatingly depicted against a Kafkaesque backdrop of an invented future of a winter with the coldest Israeli weather on record and a strange epidemic, the Saudi flu. But even snow and hailstones and a life-threatening illness prove secondary to the terrorist attacks and suicide bombings recurring with relentless predictability as the Hebrew months pass. Michele Leber wrote, "In Castel-Bloom's Israel, a bitter winter has people losing limbs to the cold as well as to violence, an epidemic dubbed "Saudi flu" proves deadly, and terrorism continues unabated. Individuals have their own problems. Kati Beit-Halahmi, a mother of four whose husband is disabled, revels in her status as the poster child for poverty; but when media attention wanes, she takes unusual measures to better herself. Iris Ventura, a divorced mother of three who needs a new washer and dental work, is helped unexpectedly by ex-lover Adir Bergson, who lives comfortably on an inheritance but dreams of immigrating to Canada. In understated prose, Castel-Bloom notes the existence of racial and ethnic discrimination, at least on the personal level, and highlights the problem of poverty while suggesting that more personal responsibility is needed. As their exhausted president goes from funeral to funeral for terrorist victims, and radio stations program music based on the number of newly dead, individual Israelis persevere--because what else can they do? " Documentation of Israel's nouveau pauvre is a pervading theme, via the new immigrants from Kurdistan and Ethiopia, the divorced and, finally and by brutal contrast, the terrorist-widowed. Castel-Bloom's social realism has been compared to that of Ann Beattie and Grace Paley, but I hear echoes of Mordecai Richler. Coincidentally, Adir wants to rescue Tasaro by taking her away from Israel, and emigrating to Canada She will read from the book at Drexel on October 30 and at the Harvard Hillel on November 5, 2003. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] LITTLE EDENS
STORIES
By BARBARA KLEIN MOSS
January 2004. W W Norton
An elegant and richly evocative collection about the nature of paradise and the complexities of desire. These eight magical stories are about the Edenic spaces that people create in their lives and the serpents that subtly inhabit them; in each case a form of revelation accompanies the threat of expulsion from the earthly paradise. In "Rug Weaver" (selected for Best American Short Stories 2001), an Iranian Jewish rug dealer exiled to Southern California makes a paradise of his prison cell by weaving an elaborate rug in his mind. Grieving parents in the title story transfigure an exotic luxury subdivision in southern California into a vision of heaven. In "Interpreters" a couple working in a re-created colonial village find that the roles they play are more seductively real than their lives outside. For all these men and women, the apple is only the beginning. And in every story there is a tension between inner and outer worlds as the characters leave a place that grows greener, lusher, and more perfect as they look back. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] SHEILA LEVINE IS DEAD AND LIVING IN NEW YORK
By Gail Parent
Reissued January 2004.
Three decades after its original bestselling publication, Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York is still completely on target as the most achingly funny book-length suicide note ever written by an agonizingly single 30-year-old trying unsuccessfully to straddle two worlds: the one she's been programmed for from birth-marriage first, life later-and the illusive swinging singles scene of liberated New York City. Meet Sheila Levine, she's smart and funny, and her mother tells her she's beautiful. . . . But her skirt's always a bit wrinkled, she's trying to lose 15-make that 25-pounds, she just turned 30 . . . and she's still single. She tries to date and mate, she really does, but disappointment turns to desperation, and after a flash of insight, Sheila calmly decides to kill herself. So she starts to get her affairs in order and writes a suicide note to her loving parents to explain it all Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] The Floating Book
A Novel of Venice
by Michelle Lovric
January 2004. Regan
Venice, 1468. The beautiful yet heartless Sosia Simeon (a Dalmatian Jewess) is making her mark on the city, driven by a dark compulsion to steal pleasure with men from all walks of life. Across the Grand Canal, Wendelin von Speyer has just arrived from Germany, bringing with him a cultural revolution: Gutenberg's movable type. Together with the young editor Bruno Uguccione and the seductive scribe Felice Feliciano, he starts the city's first printing press. Before long a love triangle develops between Sosia, Felice, and Bruno -- who has become entranced by the verse of Catullus, the Roman erotic poet. But a far greater scandal erupts when Wendelin tempts fate by publishing the poet -- and changes all of their lives forever. Sosia, the heartless sensualist; Felice, a man who loves the crevices of the alphabet the way other men love the crevices of women; Lussieta, whose anguish gives the story its soulful heart: these and many other characters make The Floating Book an unforgettable experience for lovers of romance, history, and the printed word. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] Someone To Run With
A Novel
by David Grossman
February 2004. FS&G.
Earnest, awkward, and painfully shy, sixteen-year-old Assaf is having the worst summer of his life. With his big sister gone to America and his best friend suddenly the most popular kid in their class, Assaf worries away his days at a lowly summer job in Jerusalem city hall and spends his evenings alone, watching television and playing games on the Internet. One morning, Assaf's routine is interrupted by an absurd assignment: to find the owner of a stray yellow lab. Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, Tamar, a talented young singer with a lonely, tempestuous soul, undertakes an equally unpromising mission: to rescue a teenage drug addict from the Jerusalem underworld . . . and, eventually, to find her dog. Someone to Run With is the most popular work to date from "a writer who has been, for nearly two decades, one of the most original and talented . . . anywhere" (The New York Times Book Review), a bestseller hailed by the Israeli press (and reform politicians such as Shimon Peres) for its mixture of fairy-tale magic, emotional sensitivity, and gritty realism. The novel explores the life of Israeli street kids-whom Grossman interviewed extensively for the novel-and the anxieties of family life in a society racked by self-doubt. Most of all, it evokes the adventure of adolescence and the discovery of love, as Tamar and Assaf, pushed beyond the limits of childhood by their quests, find themselves, and each other. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] THE SINGING FIRE
A NOVEL
by LILIAN NATTEL
February 2004, Scribner
Lilian Nattel, the acclaimed author of The River Midnight, masterfully brings to life a vanished world -- the lanes boiling with the steam from kettles of laundry, the smokestacks belching coal dust, the chatter of tailors, piemen, and thieves. This is where Nehama arrives with her dreams of independence, not realizing the dangers that a girl on her own must face. Tricked into prostitution and with only the whispers of her deceased grandmother to guide her, she escapes into the alleys of the East End, where bustling market stalls and penny seats at the theater are just a handsbreadth away from the criminal warrens. In the Jewish ghetto Nehama makes a new life, remembering the lessons of the street to help another runaway, Emilia, pregnant and unwed. But Emilia refuses a hardscrabble life and, relinquishing her baby to Nehama, re-creates herself in the chic streets of the West End. Nattel intertwines the stories of these women as they build their lives in two sides of the city. With stunningly vivid prose Nattel writes of the chaos of this rich city life; she tells the stories of whores and rabbis, street vendors and artists, sweatshops and Yiddish theater, and she beautifully renders the courage of mothers and sisters navigating dangerous realms. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book cover art] Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran
Oscar and the Lady in Pink
Two Novellas
by Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt, Translated by Marjolijn De Jager
February 2004. Other Press.
The novella behind the award winning film starring Omar Sharif. Set in the 1960 in Paris' Jewish Quarter, Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Koran is about a troubled Jewish boy, Moses, or Momo, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a solitary Muslim shopkeeper named Monsieur Ibrahim. Momo's hilarious yet heart-wrenching story begins when loses his virginity in a bordello at the age of 11. Ibrahim offers Momo his ear and advice, and gradually the precocious boy that there is more to life than whores and stealing groceries. When Momo's father, a passive-aggressive lawyer who neglects his son who neglects his son's well being, disappears and is found dead, Ibrahim adopts the newly orphaned boy. Eventually the two decide to make a trip across Europe to the birthplace of Monsieur Ibrahim that brings them to the most important crossroads of their lives. As this deeply funny and exquisitely crafted plot unravels, it reveals how we learn the most essential aspects of life and death when we expect them the least. Oscar and the Lady in Pink gives us an entirely different tale of love and courage. Oscar is ten years old and dying of leukemia. He knows that his bone marrow transplant has failed, but the only person who will talk to him about dying is his beloved Mamie-Rose, an elderly volunteer who visits the sick children. When it becomes clear that Oscar's time is growing short, Mamie-Rose gives him an idea: he should pretend that every day he lives represents the passage of ten years, and at the end of each day he should write down his experiences as a letter to God so that he might feel less alone. With Mamie-Rose as his guide, Oscar begins an uplifting journey through days made fuller by the richness of his imagination and spirit. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt has given us two illuminating tales about suffering, love, compassion, and faith both in God and humanity. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] AN ALMOST PERFECT MOMENT
A Novel
by BINNIE KIRSHENBAUM
February 2004. Ecco
On the cusp of the great age of disco, and in a part of Brooklyn a million miles away from Manhattan, lives fifteen-year-old Valentine Kessler and her long-suffering mother, Miriam. Valentine -- Jewish, pretty, and a touch flaky -- is an unremarkable teenager except for two things: she is a dead ringer for the Virgin Mary as she appeared to Bernadette at Lourdes, and her very being, through some inexplicable conspiracy of fate, seems to shatter the dreams and hopes of people around her. John Wosileski, Valentine's lonely math teacher who adores her from afar, embraces the martyrdom wrought by his unconditional and unrequited love. Joanne Clarke, the bitter and sad biology teacher who schemes to be John's wife, reviles Valentine to eventual self-destruction. Valentine's best friend, a former figure-skating champion, humiliates her for the crime of being "different." But Miriam Kessler -- betrayed and anguished by the husband she once worshipped loves Valentine only the way a mother could -- deeply, yet without knowing. Miriam eats and eats and seeks solace in mah-jongg. The mah-jongg girls, a cross between a Greek Chorus and a Brooklyn rendition of the Three Wise Men, dispense advice, predictions, and care in the form of extravagant gifts and homemade strudels. When Miriam's greatest fear for Valentine is realized, she takes comfort in the thought that it couldn't get any worse. But then something even stranger happens, and Valentine's mysterious presence becomes an even more mysterious absence. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] A DEATH IN VIENNA
A NOVEL
by DANIEL SILVA
March 2004. PUTNAM
The sins of the past reverberate into the present, in an extraordinary novel by the new master of international suspense. It was an ordinary-looking photograph. Just the portrait of a man. But the very sight of it chilled Allon to the bone. Art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon is sent to Vienna to authenticate a painting, but the real object of his search becomes something else entirely: to find out the truth about the photograph that has turned his world upside down. It is the face of the unnamed man who brutalized his mother in the last days of World War II, during the Death March from Auschwitz. But is it really the same one? If so, who is he? How did he escape punishment? Where is he now? Fueled by an intensity he has not felt in years, Allon cautiously begins to investigate; but with each layer that is stripped away, the greater the evil that is revealed, a web stretching across sixty years and thousands of lives. Soon, the quest for one monster becomes the quest for many. And the monsters are stirring... Rich with sharply etched characters and prose, and a plot of astonishing intricacy, this is an uncommonly intelligent thriller by one of our very best writers. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] SPECTACLE OF CORRUPTION
A NOVEL
by DAVID LISS
March 16, 2004. Random House
Kirkus writes: "With eloquent wit, Liss manipulates the concepts of misdirection and probability theory in his serpentine third novel (after The Coffee Trader, 2003). Once again, we meet the unconventional protagonist of the author's Edgar-winning debut A Conspiracy of Paper (2000). "Thief-taker," retired prizefighter, and Jew Benjamin Weaver, as resourceful a former rogue as ever, is in peril again-falsely convicted and sentenced to hang for the murder of a dockworker and labor leader whom he barely knew. The year is 1722, and London is abuzz over England's first General Election, vigorously contested by conservative Tories who support Hanoverian King George I and antiroyalist Whigs, who may or may not be in league with Jacobites plotting the restoration of deposed "Pretender" James II of Scotland. Weaver escapes from Newgate Prison (in a marvelously detailed sequence), and, while laboring to clear his name, assumes multiple disguises and forms affiliations with several members of London's political, ecclesiastical, and criminal elites. These include the woman he loves unrequitedly, his cousin's widow Miriam, and her husband, Whig Parliamentary candidate Griffin Melbury; duplicitous parish priest Christopher Ufford (in whose service suspicion for murder had fallen on Weaver); brutal tobacco merchant Dennis Dogsmill and his fetching sister Grace, and numerous other power brokers and ruffians whose allegiances and very identities are seldom what they seem. The dazzling plot, which grows steadily more intricate and circuitous, turns on the allegation that "there [is] a Tory spy among the Whigs," and the likelihood that Weaver's victimization is connected to the election that the charismatic Melburyblithely characterizes as "a spectacle of corruption." Liss's impressive research provides a wealth of information about 18th-century politics, emergent labor organizations, and gradations of etiquette and malfeasance among contrasting social levels. And Weaver's somber, wry, knowing narrator's voice is a deadpan delight. Furthermore, it all ends with yet another twist that seems to promise we'll hear more from-and of-the indefatigable Benjamin Weaver." Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] OLD SCHOOL
A novel
by Tobias Wolff

November 2003. Knopf. Acclaimed short story and non fiction writer, Mr. Wolff's (Stanford), first Novel. Determined to fit in at his New England prep school (1960-1961), the narrator has learned to mimic the bearing and manners of his adoptive tribe while concealing as much as possible about himself. He is passing, he is an outsider, his father is Jewish, he is on scholarship, he is middle class in an elite school filled with the sons of rich men. His final year, however, unravels everything he's achieved, and steers his destiny in directions no one could have predicted. The school's mystique is rooted in Literature, and for many boys this becomes an obsession, editing the review and competing for the attention of visiting writers whose fame helps to perpetuate the tradition. Robert Frost, soon to appear at JFK's inauguration, is far less controversial than the next visitor, Ayn Rand. But the final guest, Ernest Hemingway, is one whose blessing a young writer would do almost anything to gain.
Note to readers. Tobias Wolff is of Irish and Jewish heritage. His father hid the fact that he was Jewish. Wolff stated, "...I think he [my father] was pretending, out of some deep sadness of self, that he was someone other than who he was. He had this sort of pathetic WASP fantasy. I used to think it was the prep schools he went to, where there was a lot of anti-Semitism. But as my brother was doing his research for a book about my father, it became his opinion that the most influential anti-Semitism my father encountered when he was growing up was from Jews, because his relatives were German Jews, and doctors. Our grandfather was a doctor and our great-grandfather was a doctor and our great-great grandfather was a doctor to Napoleon, and they were very proud and insular. When this great wave of immigrants came here at the turn of the century - Jews from Poland, from Russia - they were looked down on by the German Jews who called them Yids and Hebes and all this stuff. The German Jews were very secularized, very unobservant, very assimilationist. And my father picked up a lot of this stuff. It's a very strange business.
Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] There Are Jews in My House
Stories
by Lara Vapnyar
December 2, 2003. Pantheon Books.
Innocence rounds the bend to experience in these beautifully shaped stories of Moscow and Brooklyn, which take up the worldview of the young and overlooked. The stunning Second World War story that opens the book is a masterpiece of ambivalence-about the simultaneous generosity and hypocrisy of Galina, a gentile Russian woman who offers safe harbor to a Jewish friend and her daughter during the German occupation. In "Love Lessons-Mondays, 9 A.M.," a young math teacher is assigned to teach a girls' sex education class, even though she herself is still awaiting her first kiss. And in "Mistress," a boy newly arrived in this country bears witness to the intimate details of his grandparents' new and diverging lives: his grandmother's doctors' appointments, where he is charged with translating her myriad complaints into English, and his grandfather's clandestine courtship of another woman. Adept at both snapshots and long exposures, Lara Vapnyar, herself a recent immigrant, writes of life's adventures and possibilities, its disappointments and unexpected turns, with delicate humor, brilliant timing, and striking emotional honesty. She is a writer to relish and to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book][book] LOST TRIBE
JEWISH FICTION FROM THE EDGE
Edited by PAUL ZAKRZEWSKI (pronounced Zak-shef-ski)
August 2003. Harperperennial.
A collection of writings from 25 great new funny, dark, raw writers, including Nathan Englander ("The Last One Way"), Ellen Miller ("In Memory of Chanveasna Chan, Who Is Still Alive", a dark satire on the persecution image), Myla Goldberg, Jonathan Safran Foer, Steve Almond, Dara Horn, Jon Papernick, Aimee Bender, Rachel Kadish, Nelly Reifler (Julian, a sexual coming of age story), Gabriel Brownstein, Gloria Kirchheimer, Ben Schrank, Judy Budnitz, Binnie Kirshenbaum ("Who Knows Kaddish") Suzan Sherman, Joan Leegant, Gary Shteyngart ("Several Anecdotes About My Wife"), Michael Lowenthal, Aryeh Lev Stollman, Ellen Umansky, Ehud Havazelet, Tova Mirvis, Simone Zelitch, and Peter Orner. Issues are flirted with (sex, intolerance, the Holocaust's legacy). Call them the "post Roth" generation. Just as Philip Roth unleashed his irreverent wit in "Portnoy's Complaint" to depict the shortcomings of his 1950s urban Jewish upbringing, these writers flirt with controversial topics-such as sex, materialism, religious intolerance, and the contentious legacy of the Holocaust-to create a stirring mirror of Jewish life today. With their evocative storytelling abilities, exquisite attention to language, and profound compassion for the complex lives of their characters, these 25 authors are creating an exciting new direction for contemporary Jewish fiction. Click to read more.







[book] EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED
by Jonathan Safran Foer

April 16, 2002. Houghton Mifflin.
The book is so good, so premium, absorbing, sensual, carnal, and hilarious. SEE OUR EXTENDED REVIEW ON OUR APRIL 2002 PAGE. Essentially, this book is so good, so funny, so sad, so true. Reviewers have said: passionate, perverse, and moving. "Exuberant and wise, hysterically funny and deeply moving, Everything Is Illuminated is an astonishing debut novel. In the summer after his junior year of college, a writer-also named Jonathan Safran Foer-journeys to the farmlands of Eastern Europe. Armed with only a yellowing photograph, he sets out to find Augustine, the woman who might or might not be a link to the grandfather he never knew-the woman who, he has been told, saved his grandfather from the Nazis (this really happened). Guided by the unforgettable Alex, his young Ukrainian translator, who writes in a sublimely, butchered English, Jonathan is led on a quixotic search across a devastated landscape and back into an unexpected past. Braided into this story is the novel Jonathan is writing, a magical realist fable of his grandfather's village in Ukraine, Trachimbrod, a tapestry of startling symmetries that unite generations across time. In a counterpoint of voices blending high comedy and deep tragedy, the search moves back in time, the fantastical history moves forward, and they meet in a heart-stopping scene of extraordinary power. Passionate, wildly inventive, and marked by an indelible humanity, Everything Is Illuminated mines the black holes of history and is ultimately a story about searching: for people and places that no longer exist, for the hidden truths that haunt every family, and for the delicate but necessary tales that link past and future."
Some have written that the title comes from the idea that when everyone in the shtetl were making love and reaching coitus at the same time, an astronaut perceived it as an illumination from space. But me... I tell you that the title means that everything can be finally illuminated, even for those who cannot communicate clearly.






[book] CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE JEWISH SOUL
STORIES TO OPEN THE HEART AND REKINDLE THE SPIRIT
Edited By Jack Canfield and Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins (Princeton)

September 2001. HEATH. Portion of proceeds go to Hadassah and the National Yiddish Book Center. Well, the Chicken Soup series, that Jews were immune to, has now hit the Jewish reader. This is a collection of stories by celebs such as Rabbis Lawrence and Harold Kushner, Ed Koch, the late George Burns, Anne Frank, Kirk Douglas, Golda Meir, and others. Collected and edited by Rabbi Elkins. It even includes a story by his son (who said anything about nepotism, just kidding)










[book] Daughter's Keeper
by Ayelet Waldman
October 2003. Sourcebooks.
Daughter's Keeper is an important, engaging and at times heartbreaking novel about mothers, daughters and justice. Ayelet Waldman mixes family psychology with courtroom tension in a story that catapults self-sufficient Elaine Goodman and her headstrong daughter Olivia into a nightmarish scenario when Olivia falls victim to the ferocity of the war on drugs. Not only does Olivia's Mexican illegal immigrant lover get arrested in a drug deal, but she is pregnant with his child. At the same time, Elaine finally finds a good man to love and with whom to share her life, but the whole incident with Olivia threatens to break up their engagement. A compelling novel that exposes the inequities of U.S. drug laws and the justice and penal system that sees only in black and white, Daughter's Keeper truly shines as a testament to the unshakable bond between mothers and daughters. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] WILD WEST
Stories from the Last Frontier
by Boris Fishman (editor)
October 2003.
Wild East: Stories From the Last Frontier is a unique and timely anthology of great writing about one of the most fractious, mercurial, maladjusted and misunderstood corners of the globe in a generation. Eastern Europe since 1990 has been a crossroads of iron rule, cowboy commerce, old hatreds and new licentiousness. In other words, a place where literature thrives, as it does in the wake of all great upheavals. Wild East collects the most urgent dispatches from some of our most gifted cultural correspondents. Drug-addled New Russians preaching business-speak and "empowerment" on Nevsky Prospect. A curious and pressing need for a Parisian blowtorch in the fields of fire in Sarajevo. The romantic assignment of a particularly fetching Czech intelligence officer. These are the subjects of Wild East, a lusty and raucous anthology of stories about the bohemians, danger junkies, and thrill-seekers reveling in the cultural, social, political and sexual renaissance that followed the fall of the iron curtain. Twelve of today's best young writers, including Arthur Phillips, Gary Shteyngart, Aleksandar Hemon, Charlotte Hobson, Paul Greenberg and John Beckman brilliantly explore the proposition "Prague in the 90s was like Paris in the 20s." With a dozen new and selected stories, Wild East showcases fresh and fascinating work by some of the brightest young literary lights writing today. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] IN THE IMAGE
A NOVEL
by DARA HORN
Fall 2003. WW Norton. Paperback edition
A young woman's coming of age, a romantic love story, and a spiritual journey-each infused with the lessons of history. In the Image is an extraordinary first novel illuminated by spiritual exploration, one that remembers "a language, a literature, a held hand, an entire world lived and breathed in the image of God." Bill Landsmann, an elderly Jewish refugee in a New Jersey suburb with a passion for travel, is obsessed with building his slide collection of images from the Bible that he finds scattered throughout the world. The novel begins when he crosses paths with his granddaughter's friend, Leora, and continues by moving forward through her life and backward through his, revealing the unexpected links between his family's past and her family's future. Not just a first novel but a cultural event-a wedding of secular and religious forms of literature-In the Image neither lives in the past nor seeks to escape it, but rather assimilates it, in the best sense of the word, honoring what is lost and finding, among the lost things, the treasures that can renew the present. Reading group guide included. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] There Are Jews in My House
Stories
by Lara Vapnyar
December 2, 2003. Pantheon Books.
Innocence rounds the bend to experience in these beautifully shaped stories of Moscow and Brooklyn, which take up the worldview of the young and overlooked. The stunning Second World War story that opens the book is a masterpiece of ambivalence-about the simultaneous generosity and hypocrisy of Galina, a gentile Russian woman who offers safe harbor to a Jewish friend and her daughter during the German occupation. In "Love Lessons-Mondays, 9 A.M.," a young math teacher is assigned to teach a girls' sex education class, even though she herself is still awaiting her first kiss. And in "Mistress," a boy newly arrived in this country bears witness to the intimate details of his grandparents' new and diverging lives: his grandmother's doctors' appointments, where he is charged with translating her myriad complaints into English, and his grandfather's clandestine courtship of another woman. Adept at both snapshots and long exposures, Lara Vapnyar, herself a recent immigrant, writes of life's adventures and possibilities, its disappointments and unexpected turns, with delicate humor, brilliant timing, and striking emotional honesty. She is a writer to relish and to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] DANGEROUS COMPANY
Dark Tales from Tinseltown
by Pater Bart (Variety magazine)
December 2003. Hyperion.
As Bart writes, "the movie business does not attract reasonable people." This makes for tasty stories. The tales are smarmy, entertaining and enlightening, but definitely not dangerous. I would have titled this Mildly Menacing Deceitful Egos; in these stories one can witness why Hollywood is called tinseltown, since each character shimmers briefly and believes they are really platinum rather than cheap reflective plasticized aluminum. Bart's characters could easily have become stock cliches, but happily, in his hands, they aren't. Most of the petulant characters are connected not by their Atkins diets, but by their ownership of homes on Starlight Terrace, a street that had its name changed from Rattery Lane, like an actress with a foreign sounding surname. There are stories about actors, agents, writers, lawyers, producers, directors, studio execs, more lawyers, an MPAA rater, and husbands, wives, adopted kids, and lovers. Most memorable are the stories of the aging actress who uses so much Botox, her director says she can no longer show facial expressions; her 60 year old agent who celebrated his birthday with a chemical peel that might melt his face in the LA sun; a rabbi who is more concerned that his MPAA-rater wife discusses curse words than the fact she is Catholic; the young agent and her younger boy-toy whom she uses for 'recreation'; her retiring mentor who reinforces the adage that successes have many fathers, and failures are orphans; and a hard driving exec who like to remind people that he got Bar Mitzvah'ed in a polo shirt cuz his poor father bounced the check on his new bar mitzvah suit (oh, the shame!). Needless to say, this is Hollywood, so the plethora of Jewish sounding surnames is in abundance in all the stories. While these may be cautionary tales to some, to many others they will serve as appetizing enticements. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] LITTLE EDENS
STORIES
By BARBARA KLEIN MOSS
January 2004. W W Norton
An elegant and richly evocative collection about the nature of paradise and the complexities of desire. These eight magical stories are about the Edenic spaces that people create in their lives and the serpents that subtly inhabit them; in each case a form of revelation accompanies the threat of expulsion from the earthly paradise. In "Rug Weaver" (selected for Best American Short Stories 2001), an Iranian Jewish rug dealer exiled to Southern California makes a paradise of his prison cell by weaving an elaborate rug in his mind. Grieving parents in the title story transfigure an exotic luxury subdivision in southern California into a vision of heaven. In "Interpreters" a couple working in a re-created colonial village find that the roles they play are more seductively real than their lives outside. For all these men and women, the apple is only the beginning. And in every story there is a tension between inner and outer worlds as the characters leave a place that grows greener, lusher, and more perfect as they look back. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] A DEATH IN VIENNA
A NOVEL
by DANIEL SILVA
March 2004. PUTNAM
The sins of the past reverberate into the present, in an extraordinary novel by the new master of international suspense. It was an ordinary-looking photograph. Just the portrait of a man. But the very sight of it chilled Allon to the bone. Art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon is sent to Vienna to authenticate a painting, but the real object of his search becomes something else entirely: to find out the truth about the photograph that has turned his world upside down. It is the face of the unnamed man who brutalized his mother in the last days of World War II, during the Death March from Auschwitz. But is it really the same one? If so, who is he? How did he escape punishment? Where is he now? Fueled by an intensity he has not felt in years, Allon cautiously begins to investigate; but with each layer that is stripped away, the greater the evil that is revealed, a web stretching across sixty years and thousands of lives. Soon, the quest for one monster becomes the quest for many. And the monsters are stirring... Rich with sharply etched characters and prose, and a plot of astonishing intricacy, this is an uncommonly intelligent thriller by one of our very best writers. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] THE SINGING FIRE
A NOVEL
by LILIAN NATTEL
February 2004, Scribner
Lilian Nattel, the acclaimed author of The River Midnight, masterfully brings to life a vanished world -- the lanes boiling with the steam from kettles of laundry, the smokestacks belching coal dust, the chatter of tailors, piemen, and thieves. This is where Nehama arrives with her dreams of independence, not realizing the dangers that a girl on her own must face. Tricked into prostitution and with only the whispers of her deceased grandmother to guide her, she escapes into the alleys of the East End, where bustling market stalls and penny seats at the theater are just a handsbreadth away from the criminal warrens. In the Jewish ghetto Nehama makes a new life, remembering the lessons of the street to help another runaway, Emilia, pregnant and unwed. But Emilia refuses a hardscrabble life and, relinquishing her baby to Nehama, re-creates herself in the chic streets of the West End. Nattel intertwines the stories of these women as they build their lives in two sides of the city. With stunningly vivid prose Nattel writes of the chaos of this rich city life; she tells the stories of whores and rabbis, street vendors and artists, sweatshops and Yiddish theater, and she beautifully renders the courage of mothers and sisters navigating dangerous realms. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book cover] THE MATZO BALL HEIRESS
A novel
by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Red Dress Harlequin. April 2004.
Q: How does Heather Greenblotz, the 31-year-old heiress to the world's leading matzo company, spend Passover?
A: Alone. In her Manhattan apartment. With an extremely unkosher ham and cheese panini.
But this year will be different. The Food Channel has asked to film the famous Greenblotz Matzo family's seder, and the publicity opportunity is too good to, ahem, PASS OVER. Heather is being courted by the handsome host and the subtly sexy cameraman, and she's got family coming out of her ears. It's enough to make a formerly dateless heiress feel like a princess.





[book] Contested Memories
Someone To Run With
A Novel
by David Grossman
February 2004. FS&G.
Earnest, awkward, and painfully shy, sixteen-year-old Assaf is having the worst summer of his life. With his big sister gone to America and his best friend suddenly the most popular kid in their class, Assaf worries away his days at a lowly summer job in Jerusalem city hall and spends his evenings alone, watching television and playing games on the Internet. One morning, Assaf's routine is interrupted by an absurd assignment: to find the owner of a stray yellow lab. Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, Tamar, a talented young singer with a lonely, tempestuous soul, undertakes an equally unpromising mission: to rescue a teenage drug addict from the Jerusalem underworld . . . and, eventually, to find her dog. Someone to Run With is the most popular work to date from "a writer who has been, for nearly two decades, one of the most original and talented . . . anywhere" (The New York Times Book Review), a bestseller hailed by the Israeli press (and reform politicians such as Shimon Peres) for its mixture of fairy-tale magic, emotional sensitivity, and gritty realism. The novel explores the life of Israeli street kids-whom Grossman interviewed extensively for the novel-and the anxieties of family life in a society racked by self-doubt. Most of all, it evokes the adventure of adolescence and the discovery of love, as Tamar and Assaf, pushed beyond the limits of childhood by their quests, find themselves, and each other. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] OY PIONEER!
A NOVEL
by MARLEEN S. BARR
Fall 2003. Univ of Wisconsin Press
What would happen if a feminist Jewish wit and scholar invaded David Lodge's territory? Marleen S. Barr, herself a pioneer in the feminist criticism of science fiction, provides a giddily entertaining answer in this feisty novel. Oy Pioneer! follows professor Sondra Lear as she makes her inimitable way through a world of learning-at times fantastic, at times all too familiar, often hilarious, and always compulsively interesting. As if Mel Brooks and Erica Jong had joined forces to recreate Sex and the City for the intellectual set, the story is a heady mix of Jewish humor, feminist insight, and academic satire. Lear is a tenured radical and a wildly ambitious intellectual, but is subject nonetheless to the husband-hunting imperatives of her Jewish mother. Her adventures expand narrative parameters according to Barr's term "genre fission." Mixing elements of science fiction, fantasy, ethnic comedy, satire, and authentic experience of academic life, Oy Pioneer! is uncommonly fun-a Jewish feminist scholar's imaginative text boldly going where no academic satire has gone before-and bringing readers along for an exhilarating ride. Click the book cover above to read more.



[book] TEN THOUSAND LOVERS
A NOVEL
by EDEET RAVEL
Fall 2003. Perennial. Paperback edition
Israel, 1970s. Lily, a young emigrant student exploring the wonders and terrors of her new land, finds the man of her dreams -- Ami, a former actor. Handsome, intelligent, and exciting, but like his beautiful, disintegrating country, Ami has a terrible flaw -- he is an army interrogator. As Ami and Lily's unexpected passion grows, so too does the shadow that hangs over them. They must face the unspeakable horrors of Ami's work and their uncertain future. While set in the '70s, Ten Thousand Lovers is a brilliant and terrifyingly contemporary tale of passion, suffering, and the transcending power of love. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] THE TRUE STORY OF HANSEL AND GRETEL
A NOVEL OF WAR AND REMEMBRANCE
by LOUISE MURPHY
2003. Penguin Paperback edition
In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed "Hansel" and "Gretel." They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called "witch" by the nearby villagers. Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children. Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, this haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and tells a resonant, riveting story. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] Desire and Delusion
Three Novellas
by Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931), Margret Schaefer (Translator)
October 2003. Ivan R Dee
Dying, Flight into Darkness, and Fräulein Else reveal the depths of Schnitzler's psychological and moral understanding of life as well as the masterful storytelling techniques that immerse the reader into the very center of his characters' thoughts and emotions. "The tales of Arthur Schnitzler--especially as rendered in Margret Schaefer's clear, uncluttered translations--are many suggestive, allusive, and dreamlike things. But they are most certainly not the work of a period writer. (Wash Post)" The third novella, ''Fraulein Else'' (1924), makes it into the literary histories as the earliest sustained example of stream of consciousness writing in German. Else is a pretty woman, not yet 21, on holiday in Tyrol with wealthier cousins. When the story begins, she's just abandoning a tennis match to go back to the hotel, where she's been told by telegram to expect an express letter from her mother. The news is dire: her father is in sudden urgent need of a large sum of money; the parents have tried all the avenues open to them in Vienna, without any success; then it occurs to her mother that one Herr von Dorsday, a wealthy art dealer staying at the same hotel, who might even be thought to owe them a favor, could be approached (NYT). Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] BEYOND THE PALE
by Elana Dykewomon
Fall 2003.
Beyond the Pale -winner of the Lambda Literary Award - tells the stories of two Jewish women living through times of darkness and inhumanity in the early 20th century, capturing their undaunted love and courage in luminous and moving prose. The richly textured novel details Gutke Gurvich's odyssey from her apprenticeship as a midwife in a Russian shtetl to her work in the suffrage movement in New York. Interwoven with her tale is that Chava Meyer, who was attended by Gurvich at her birth and grew up to survive the pogrom that took the lives of her parents. Throughout the book, historical background plays a large part: Jewish faith and traditions, the practice of midwifery, the horrific conditions in prerevolutionary Russia and New York sweatshops, and the determined work of labor unionists and suffragists. Click the book cover above to read more.





[book] Beautiful as the Moon, Radiant as the Stars
Jewish Women in Yiddish Stories
An Anthology
by Sandra Bark

November 2003. For fans of Jonathan Safran Foer, Nathan Englander, Cynthia Ozick, and Anita Diamant comes one of the first collections of stories about Yiddish women writers. Written by both male and female writers, the stories in this anthology focus on the female Ashkenazic experience during the 19th and 20th centuries. The women in these fascinating, often shocking, stories range from rebellious daughters and reluctant brides to cunning businesswomen and vengeful midwives. The issues they face, while particular to their place in history, will still resonate with modern readers. Assimilation and anti-Semitism are hot-button debate topics; themes of love, family, and loss are universal. This extensive collection contains the original stories that inspired Fiddler on the Roof and Yentl; an early Yiddish story by Dvora Baron, the first modern Hebrew writer; a story by Isaac Bashevis Singer and one by his sister, Esther Singer Kreitman. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] [book] SEPHARAD
A NOVEL
An Anthology
by Antonio Munoz Molina, translated from Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden

November/December 2003. Harcourt
Readers of MyJewishBooks.com will recall that a few years ago, we mentioned this hot new Spanish book that was tearing up the bookstores in Spain. Well the great editors at Harcourt knew a good thing when they smelled it, and we now have it in an English translation. So here, from one of Spain's most celebrated writers, an extraordinary, inspired book-at once fiction, history, and memoir-that draws on the Sephardic diaspora, the Holocaust, and Stalin's purges to tell a twentieth-century story. Shifting seamlessly from the past to the present and following the routes of escape across countries and continents, Muñoz Molina evokes people real and imagined who come together in a richly allusive pattern-from Eugenia Ginsburg to Grete Buber-Neumann, the one on a train to the gulag, the other to a Nazi concentration camp; from a shoemaker and a nun who become lovers in a small town in Spain to Primo Levi bound for Auschwitz. And others-some well known, others unknown-all voices of separation, nostalgia, love, and endless waiting. Written with clarity of vision and passion, in a style both lyrical and accessible, Sepharad makes the experience our own. A brilliant achievement. The Mercantile Library wrote, "Munoz Molina's second novel to be translated into English (after Prince of Shadows) is a brilliant series of literary meditations on the nature of memory and evil. Franz Kafka wanders like a phantasm throughout, and many other writers who have explored the persistence of the past serve as individual touchstones, Marcel Proust, Primo Levi, and Joseph Conrad among them. The chapters are individual tales of travel through time and space, during which the narrator meets someone who tells him a story of horror related to the major holocausts of the 20th century, in particular those perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin. Though Spanish Jews often did not suffer directly from such persecution, they are effectively linked through such devices as cultural or political ties, a disillusioned Communist, a displaced Hungarian shopkeeper now in Tangiers, and the author himself. A sad and perhaps unintended irony is that this book, originally published in Spain in 2001, ends in New York with a view of the World Trade Center. The richness of Munoz Molina's writing emerges from Peden's exemplary translation, and the book should take its place alongside such Holocaust-related works as Aharon Appelfeld's The Iron Tracks." Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] The Liberated Bride
A novel
by A.B. Yehoshua (Author), Hillel Halkin (Translator)

November 3, 2003. Harvest Books.
Yohanan Rivlin, a professor at Haifa University, is a man of boundless and often naive curiosity. His wife, Hagit, a district judge, is tolerant of almost everything but her husband's faults and lies. Frequent arguments aside, they are a well-adjusted couple with two grown sons. When one of Rivlin's students-a young Arab bride from a village in the Galilee-is assigned to help with his research in recent Algerian history, a two-pronged mystery develops. As they probe the causes of the bloody Algerian civil war, Rivlin also becomes obsessed with his son's failed marriage. What is the roots of the divorce and what are the roots of Algerian terror. Rivlin's search leads to a number of improbable escapades. In this comedy of manners, at once deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua brilliantly portrays characters from disparate sectors of Israeli life, united above all by a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and life.
Okay readers.. take note.. notice how everything that starts never finishes.. a student's coursework doesn't get done, the marriage doesn't get fulfilled, a scholar's life is cut short, a pregnancy doesn't come to full term or maybe never was true, kind of like the Peace Process. No? Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] Infiltration
by Yehoshua Kenaz, Dalya Bilu (Translator)

Fall 2003. Zoland Books.
PW writes, "Hailed as Kenaz's masterpiece when it was first published in 1986, this mammoth novel by one of Israel's leading novelists (The Way to the Cats; Musical Moment) is a powerful exploration of military life and Israeli society in microcosm. Set in 1955, a few years after the Israeli War of Independence, the novel follows recruits on the army's Training Base Four, a camp for those medically disqualified from ordinary service. United only by their weaknesses (" `Defective combat-worthiness! Medical Grade B!... We're going to get basic training for girls!' "), the soldiers are a mix of sabras, Arabs and European immigrants. Melabbes, the first-person narrator, is a socially awkward sabra who would rather observe than act. He becomes friends with Avner, a rash, gregarious romantic from a humble family who resents the rich, cliquish "Jerusalemites" on the base. Alon, a kibbutznik with a strong belief in collective responsibility, is disheartened by his instructors and struggles to live up to his ideals, gradually abandoning his dreams of being a military hero. The group's outcast is Ben-Hamo, an Israeli Arab, who is continuously ostracized, ridiculed and even beaten. The interactions of these and other characters reflect larger questions of weakness, loneliness, friendship, historical duty and the future of Israel. Kenaz builds his narrative out of countless conversations, meticulous descriptions of everyday life in 1950s Israel and searching observations of national dynamics. Though the novel may not have the moral weight of Solzhenitsyn's epics, it has their social sweep. Like the Soviet Union, Israel began as a daring social and political experiment, and Kenaz's exploration of its origins and nature is at once encyclopedic and tenderly human." Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] An Hour in Paradise
Stories
by Joan Leegant (Harvard)
August 2003. WW NORTON.
A wonderful new voice combining the offbeat sensibility of Nathan Englander and the compassionate eye of Allegra Goodman. In settings from Jerusalem to Queens, from Hollywood's outskirts to Sarasota, Florida, the characters in this mesmerizing debut collection are drawn to the seductions of religion, soldiering on in search of divine and human connection. A former drug dealer turned yeshiva student faces his past with a dying AIDS patient. A disaffected American in the ancient city of Safed ventures into Kabbalist mysticism and gets more than he bargained for. A rabbi whose morning minyan is visited by a pair of Siamese twins considers the possibility that his guests are not mere mortals. An aging Jerusalemite chronicles his country's changes during the biblical year of rest. By turns poignant and comic, unflinching and compassionate-with a dose of fabulist daring-An Hour in Paradise explores the dangers and unforeseen rewards of our most fundamental longings. The book has recently been selected by Barnes & Noble for their Discover Great New Writers program for this fall. You may recall her winning pieces in Moment Magazine. "The Lament of the Rabbi's Daughters" and "Seekers in the Holy Land", as well as her writings in Shma (Shma.com) Click to read more.






[book] DEATH BY HOLLYWOOD
A Novel
By Steven Bochco
September 2003. Random House
You will wet your pants reading this funny novel, and indictment of Hollywood agents. As the author writes, "Hollywood is a dog eat dog world, and no dog's gonna eat me." Bochco, the recipient of Ten Emmy Awards for shows such as L.A. Law and NYPD Blue, has written a comic, dark novel, which, honestly, is great, with greatly multi-dimensional characters. As Mr. Bochco said to me when I met him in May 2003 in Los Angeles, "THIS IS MY JEWISH BOOK." And it is and he is (and his Brother in law is Alan Rachins). Bobby Newman, a Hollywood writer and script doctor, lives by Newman Standard Time (late). He grew up on Manhattan's Upper East Side - a Jewish mama's boy, who was sent to great private schools - who when attacked in a bathroom by several classmates, wrote a short story about it rather than bulk up and fight them. His career is fading to black. He spies on a neighbor making love with his telescope (I mean that Newman uses a telescope to spy on his neighbors, not that his neighbor uses a telescope to make love). Through the scope, he sees a wealthy socialite kill her lover with, what else. an acting award statue. He witnesses this murder and instead of calling the police, he inserts himself into the investigation in order to write a screenplay about it. A cop is involved, the pimping agent (Eddie Jelko) plays a role of narrator, and then there is the billionaire's socialite wife. Click the book cover above to read more.

Click here to hear actor Dennis Franz read from Steven Bochco's book, and then return here I order to buy this. Ya know what I mean??



[book] There Are Jews in My House
Stories
by Lara Vapnyar
December 2, 2003. Pantheon Books.
Innocence rounds the bend to experience in these beautifully shaped stories of Moscow and Brooklyn, which take up the worldview of the young and overlooked. The stunning Second World War story that opens the book is a masterpiece of ambivalence-about the simultaneous generosity and hypocrisy of Galina, a gentile Russian woman who offers safe harbor to a Jewish friend and her daughter during the German occupation. In "Love Lessons-Mondays, 9 A.M.," a young math teacher is assigned to teach a girls' sex education class, even though she herself is still awaiting her first kiss. And in "Mistress," a boy newly arrived in this country bears witness to the intimate details of his grandparents' new and diverging lives: his grandmother's doctors' appointments, where he is charged with translating her myriad complaints into English, and his grandfather's clandestine courtship of another woman. Adept at both snapshots and long exposures, Lara Vapnyar, herself a recent immigrant, writes of life's adventures and possibilities, its disappointments and unexpected turns, with delicate humor, brilliant timing, and striking emotional honesty. She is a writer to relish and to watch. Click the book cover above to read more.







[book] DANGEROUS COMPANY
Dark Tales from Tinseltown
by Pater Bart (Variety magazine)
December 2003. Hyperion.
As Bart writes, "the movie business does not attract reasonable people." This makes for tasty stories. The tales are smarmy, entertaining and enlightening, but definitely not dangerous. I would have titled this Mildly Menacing Deceitful Egos; in these stories one can witness why Hollywood is called tinseltown, since each character shimmers briefly and believes they are really platinum rather than cheap reflective plasticized aluminum. Bart's characters could easily have become stock cliches, but happily, in his hands, they aren't. Most of the petulant characters are connected not by their Atkins diets, but by their ownership of homes on Starlight Terrace, a street that had its name changed from Rattery Lane, like an actress with a foreign sounding surname. There are stories about actors, agents, writers, lawyers, producers, directors, studio execs, more lawyers, an MPAA rater, and husbands, wives, adopted kids, and lovers. Most memorable are the stories of the aging actress who uses so much Botox, her director says she can no longer show facial expressions; her 60 year old agent who celebrated his birthday with a chemical peel that might melt his face in the LA sun; a rabbi who is more concerned that his MPAA-rater wife discusses curse words than the fact she is Catholic; the young agent and her younger boy-toy whom she uses for 'recreation'; her retiring mentor who reinforces the adage that successes have many fathers, and failures are orphans; and a hard driving exec who like to remind people that he got Bar Mitzvah'ed in a polo shirt cuz his poor father bounced the check on his new bar mitzvah suit (oh, the shame!). Needless to say, this is Hollywood, so the plethora of Jewish sounding surnames is in abundance in all the stories. While these may be cautionary tales to some, to many others they will serve as appetizing enticements. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] Wonder When You'll Miss Me
by Amanda Davis
2003. William Morrow
The celebrated novel by up and comer writer Amanda Davis. Sadly, she was killed in 2003 during her book tour when she and her parents were killed when their plane crashed. When she died, she was at work on a story about the early Jewish families of the South... Ayelet Waldman, a writer and the wife of Mysteries of Pittsburgh author Michael Chabon, said Davis had actually been sad and disappointed with her publisher. "It's not like she had this great idea and she wanted fly around in a Cessna," said Ms. Waldman. Though she said she didn't hold the publisher directly accountable for Davis' death, Ms. Waldman wished William Morrow had acknowledged some form of regret. "What bothered me was that they didn't just say it: 'We wished we'd toured her, and then she wouldn't have been on the damned plane.' "I know I'm angry and I lost my best friend and that's part of what's going on," Ms. Waldman added. "But still .... " Reached for comment, William Morrow publisher Michael Morrison expressed his sadness, but referred us to Davis' agent, Henry Dunow, with the explanation that he didn't think it was appropriate to talk about the situation.
Follow sixteen-year-old Faith Duckle in this audacious and darkly funny tale as she moves through the difficult journey from the schoolyard to the harlequin world of the circus. At fifteen, Faith was lured under the bleachers by a bunch of boys at a football game and raped. Now, almost a year later, a newly thin Faith is haunted by her past, and by the cruel, flippant ghost of her formerly fat self, who is bent on revenge. This quest for retribution eventually compels Faith to violence, forcing her to flee home in search of the only friend she has -- a troubled but caring busboy named Charlie, who is the lover of a sideshow performer -- and to tumble into the colorful, transient world of the circus. But as she leaves her old life behind and dives headfirst into a world of adult passions and dreams, mercurial allegiances, and exhilarating self-discovery (while paying considerable dues with a shovel in the elephant tent), Faith ultimately begins to discover who she is and all that she is capable of. Wonder When You'll Miss Me combines tender wit with page-turning energy and characters as original as they are memorable. By turns harrowing and poignant, lyrical and hilarious, it is a vibrant, compelling novel readers won't forget . Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] SEVEN BLESSINGS (Sheva Brachot)
A novel
by Ruchama King
August 2003. St Martins Press.
This is going to be the Jewish blockbuster of 2003. At least that is what I think. It already has blurbs from Stephen Dubner, Naomi Ragen, Thane Rosenbaum, and Alice Elliott Dark. The author lived in the yeshivish world of Jerusalem and resided with matchmakers. After her dates, she would debrief with them. Using this as experience, she has set out to write a transformative novel, a novel about searching for a bashert in life, in romance, and in the spiritual realm. Two matchmakers strive busily to marry off their neighbors in contemporary Jerusalem. Tsippi's own marriage is rocky, yet she keeps an eye out for single customers at her husband's makolet grocery store. Judy, a glamorous mother of six, fits in her matchmaking around her studies at a yeshiva for women, where she is taking Torah classes, looking for deeper meaning in life. Beth is a 39 year old American virgin, an independent Orthodox woman from Pittsburgh. Having dated everyone in NYC, she has come to Jerusalem. She lives among Mizrahi Jews, yet doesn't eat over their homes for fear that their standards of kashrut are not hers. She volunteers to help schizophrenics who believe they are biblical characters, and she has dropped out of her own bible study classes due to her anguish over the laws of sacrifice and other uncomfortable practices. Judy and Tsippi see Beth (or Bet) as a challenge. When Tsippi sends her on a date with Akiva, a house painter and student of the Torah, Beth is hopeful, but Akiva is afflicted by a disconcerting twitch. Judy sets her up with Binyamin, a handsome American artist, a Ba'al Teshuva filled with arrogance. King tracks the dating fates of Beth, Akiva and Binyamin, but pays equal attention to their spiritual searching of each of the characters.
PW writes: "Two Orthodox Jewish matchmakers strive busily to marry off their neighbors in this bustling debut novel set in modern-day Jerusalem. Tsippi, who works the counter of her husband's grocery store, is always on the lookout for promising single shoppers, even as her own marriage begins to show signs of wear. Judy, a glamorous mother of six, fits in her matchmaking around her studies at a yeshiva for women, where she is taking Torah classes, looking for deeper meaning in life. Both take a stab at setting up 39-year-old Beth, a staunchly independent Orthodox woman from the U.S. who has gone on more first dates than she can count. Now her possibilities are beginning to dwindle, and to make matters worse, she is troubled by a crisis of faith. When Tsippi sends her on a date with Akiva, a house painter and student of the Torah, Beth is hopeful, but Akiva is afflicted by a disconcerting twitch. A date with arrogant Binyamin, one of Judy's clients, is even more discouraging. Binyamin is a handsome American artist, a newcomer to observant Judaism, but none of the women he dates are good enough for him: as he puts it, "A beauty, dammit, that's what he wanted. Attractive wouldn't do." King tracks the dating fates of Beth, Akiva and Binyamin, but pays equal attention to their spiritual searching. Her attention to minor variations in levels of orthodoxy makes the book a sociological study of sorts ("he went to a very religious black-hat hareidi yeshiva, yet from the look of him he seemed two steps removed from that world"), but her richly detailed descriptions of Jerusalem (the reader can almost smell the falafel frying) and her sympathetic characters make this a fully realized novel." Click to read more.






[book cover] BURN
A novel
by Jennifer Natalya Fink
August 2003. Suspect Thoughts Press. It is 1953, a time of repression both political and sexual. It is Sylvan Lake, a Jewish communist enclave utopian experiment in Westchester County NY. A mute naked boy appears in the garden of Sylvia Edelman, a menopausal Jewish immigrant. A dogtag on his neck says Simon. Is he a robot here to attack her prize tomatoes, a government agent, or a teenage runaway? A tale of McCarthyism, Jewish utopias, and tangled love.. Click to read more.







[book][book] THE GERMAN MONEY
A novel
by LEV RAPHAEL
September 2003. Leapfrog Press.
In the words of Virginia Wolf, "I want to write a novel about the things people DON'T say." I met Lev at the BookExpo in Los Angeles in May, and snagged an advance copy of his forthcoming novel. Raphael, the child of survivors, is known to our readers for his Jewish books, but did you know that he is also the author of five mysteries? In this novel, he combines genres, melding an "emotional mystery" with a family saga as three grown children come together to mourn the death of their mother, a survivor of Hitler's death camps with an enigmatic, cold, silent spirit. Her son, Paul Menkis, the least favorite spent his life running away from New York, his beautiful beshert, Valerie, his siblings, and his silent mother. He was the least favorite child. Then why did he get the largest inheritance from his mother? Dina has fled the country and married a devout Catholic; Simon has led a sexually profligate life addled with drugs. The siblings find themselves confronted by a frightening legacy of secrets. What caused her to die? Why the uneven inheritance? Why did she accumulate the $1 million in reparations money from Germany, and hold it for her estate? Why has Simon embraced tragedy while Paul has run from it? Like the author, why has Paul escaped NYC for the Midwest and Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula? If you liked Schlink's The Reader, you will love this. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] SIXTY-SIX
A novel
by Barry Levinson
September 2003
Kirkus writes, "High-school buddies move into the tough world of the late '60s in a weakly plotted debut. Director-screenwriter Levinson returns to Baltimore, the scene of three of his more successful efforts, Diner, Avalon, and Tin Men. As in those films, Levinson remains fascinated with life's passages.... The narrative shifts clumsily from Bobby Shine's first-person story to third-person tales from Bobby's pals. Bobby faces life after high school with some success: he becomes a promising TV director and begins a relationship with his girlfriend Annie. But Annie's brother Neil reveals a self-destructive streak, letting himself be drafted, then going AWOL. Similarly, drug-dependent friend Ben curdles as his marriage collapses. High-school high jinks remain the order of the day at the local diner, where the guys, joined by immature pals Turko and Eggy, meet to spin tiresome tales of the past that seem like Diner leftovers. There are occasional flashes: when Ben stomps out of his father-in-law's car dealership, refusing to work there, the moment has the feeling of a good take. But too often Levinson writes flat, even banal prose, as when Bobby observes, "Like tears, laughter often comes when you least expect it." ... Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] A Trumpet in the Wadi
A Novel
by Sami Michael
August / September 2003. Simon and Schuster
You saw the Israeli film, now read the book. Leading Israeli novelist Sami Michael shares his gift for navigating the cultural conflicts in modern Israel with A Trumpet in the Wadi, a novel that transcends its Middle Eastern setting with an honest and heartbreaking story of impossible love and the strength of family. Set in the months preceding the 1982 Israeli-Arab conflict in Lebanon, this beautifully written tale is the coming-of-age story of two fatherless Christian Arab sisters, Huda and Mary, who live in the wadi -- the Arab quarter in the Jewish city of Haifa on the northern coast of Israel. An extraordinary bond of love and mutual respect unites the sisters -- polar opposites from their appearances to their tempers. Huda, the narrator of the story, is thin and withdrawn and, after abandoning her chance at marriage a few years back, has prematurely resigned herself to the monotonous life of an old maid. Her younger sister, Mary, is voluptuous, carnal, and perennially unemployed. Wrapped in the love of their sometimes bitter mother, their iconoclast grandfather, and the cheerful and omnipresent neighbor Jamilla, the sisters' lives change when a peculiar young Russian Jewish immigrant, Alex, moves into the upstairs flat. The melodies of the soulful trumpet player become the intoxicating theme music for Huda's unexpected reawakening -- and for Mary's dangerous foray into a love triangle with the heir of the local Muslim mob and her country cousin. Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] SAUL AND PATSY
A Novel
by Charles Baxter
September 9, 2003. Pantheon
PW write: "... Saul Bernstein, a literary descendant of Bellow's Herzog, is a transplanted Baltimore Jew, observing his newfound hometown-the "dusty, luckless" fictional city of Five Oaks, Mich.-with an ill-at-ease hyperawareness. Young-marrieds Saul and Patsy move to Five Oaks from Evanston, Ill., when Saul is hired to teach at the local high school. They rent a farmhouse, where they make love in every room and even in the backyard, settling into the rhythms of domestic life. Patsy, a former modern dancer who finds work as a bank teller, gives birth to a daughter, and with infinite patience tolerates her "professional worrier" of a husband. The narrative is dense with quotidian detail, precisely charted shifts of consciousness and pitch-perfect moments of emotional truth, but Baxter (The Feast of Love; Believers, etc.) doesn't have full control of the novel's architecture. The narrative crests occasionally on signs and wonders (early on, Saul has a spiritual epiphany after sighting an albino deer), but turns on the inexplicable suicide of Saul's illiterate, inarticulate student, Gordy Himmelman. Blamed by some for the boy's death, Saul must struggle against real community hostility instead of imagined anti-Semitism. Resolutely, he refuses to give up on his adopted Midwestern hometown, bringing this luminously prosaic if sometimes meandering novel to a quietly triumphant conclusion." Click the book cover above to read more.






[book] The Fortress of Solitude
A Novel
by Jonathan Lethem
September 2003. Doubleday
This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, Boerum Hill, between the Heights, Cobble Hill, Gowanus, and Park Slope, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as "gentrification." The protagonist of the novel is Dylan Ebdus, who arrives on Dean Street in 1970 when he is 5 years old. His father, Abraham, is a painter and a recluse. The more massive presence in Dylan's life is his mother, Rachel. She is young, wildly articulate in the manner of Brooklynites, a pot-smoker, a Nixon-hater. She is fiercely protective of her son, but also wants him to grow up as a street kid to acquire street smarts. So she sends him to P.S. 38 rather than Packer Collegiate or St. Ann's, and at one point Dylan overhears her boasting to a friend that her son is the only white child in his school. What she doesn't say, what she might not even notice, is that he is learning next to nothing, and getting mugged by black children almost every day. This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the most simple human decisions-what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money-are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is the story of 1990s America, when no one cared anymore. This is the story of punk, that easy white rebellion, and crack, that monstrous plague. This is the story of the loneliness of the avant-garde artist and the exuberance of the graffiti artist. This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: They would screw up their lives. This is the story of joyous afternoons of stickball and dreaded years of schoolyard extortion. This is the story of belonging to a society that doesn't accept you. This is the story of prison and of college, of Brooklyn and Berkeley, of soul and rap, of murder and redemption. Periodically, one of the characters sitting on a stoop or leaning out an open window for air will pause to take the temperature of the block, and it is almost always summer: "Brooklyn was a tropical place, faint marimba notes suspended in the yellow air, now a Mister Softee truck's incessant, circular tune, rising and falling like an ambulance whine as it positioned itself on Bergen, Bond, Dean, Pacific, drawing sluggish kids like ants to a soda spill. Manhattan seemed a thousand miles away, another city." For the last 200 pages of the novel, Lethem switches from the third person to the first, confining himself to Dylan's voice. Dylan has grown up. He is a music journalist in California, writing liner notes for boxed sets of oldies. But he never stops thinking about his childhood in Gowanus ("My childhood is the only part of my life that wasn't, uh, overwhelmed by my childhood," he tells his understandably exasperated black girlfriend), and in the last part of the book he tries to fathom the sources of this haunting and to do something about it. Why is it Jewish?? Cuz as you read it, you realize they must be Jewish, and it is alluded to around page 430. Click the book cover above to read more.




[book] A PALESTINE AFFAIR
A novel
By Jonathan Wilson
May 20, 2003. This swift and sensual novel of passion and politics transports us to British mandate Palestine, where the Arabs, Jews and Brits mingle. It is 1924, and Mark Bloomberg, a disillusioned London painter, arrives in Jerusalem to take up a propaganda commission for the government. When he and his American wife, Joyce, accidentally witness the murder of a prominent red haired Orthodox Jew near their cottage, they become embroiled in an investigation that will test their marriage and their characters. The contradictory man, Jacob De Groot (modeled after Jacob Israel de Haan??), dies in Bloomberg's arms, when Bloomberg goes outside, post coitus, naked, to investigate the noises he hears. Is the murderer his teenage Arab lover? Joyce, a non Jew is a dilettante and ardent Zionist, is pulled into an affair with Robert Kirsch, the British policeman investigating the case, while Bloomberg, transfixed by the glare of the Middle Eastern sun and desert light, attempts to capture on canvas the complex, shifting truths of the region. He is an artist, and therefore does not commit. Like Kirsch, whose brother was killed in France in 1918, all of the characters here have come to Palestine to escape the grief of the First World War, and are forced to confront their principles and their hearts in the midst of a culture in the throes of painful emergence. Writing in the Washington Post, Gershom Gorenberg wrote, "For both Kirsh and Bloomberg, not belonging is apparently the heart of Jewishness, and the passins of Palestine threaten that identity. Or perhaps I am judging them only as an impatient Israeli is inclined to judge present-day visitors. Like the best historial fiction, Wilson's story is placed in an imagined past, but it is really happening right now." Click to read more.







[book] The Pursuit of Alice Thrift
A novel
by Elinor Lipman.
June 17, 2003. Random House. Yes, they are written as Unitarians, but they are actually Jewish characters. Meet poor Alice Thrift, surgical intern in a Boston hospital, high of I.Q. but low in social graces. She doesn't mean to be acerbic, clinical, or painfully precise, but where was she the day they taught Bedside Manner 101? Into Alice's workaholic and romantically challenged life comes Ray Russo, a purveyor of fairground fudge, in need of rhinoplasty and well-heeled companionship, not necessarily in that order. Is he a con man or a sincere suitor? Good guy or bad? His well-engineered cruise into carnal waters introduces Alice to a new and baffling concept, chemistry-and not of the organic kind. Is it possible for a woman of science to cure her own loneliness in the unsuitable arms of a parental nightmare? Luckily, Leo Frawley, R.N., who has a high threshold for Alice's left-footed people skills, and Sylvie Schwartz, M.D., fellow resident and woman of the world, take on the task of guiding Alice through the narrow straits of her own no-rapport zone. Click to read more.







[book] MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS
A novel
By Cheryl Mendelson
June 10, 2003. Random House. It is 1999, and Morningside Heights on Manhattan's Upper West Side is becoming rapidly gentrified. Anne and Charles Braithwaite, musicians, have spent their entire married life in a sedate old apartment building, among Columbia professors and intellectuals. As the novel opens, their comfortable life is being threatened as a buoyant economy sends newly rich Wall Street types scurrying northward in search of good investments and more space. At the same time, the Braithwaites weather the difficult love lives of their friends, and all of the characters confront their fears that the institutions and social values that have until now provided them with meaning and stability-science, religion, the arts-are in increasing decline. Click to read more.







[book] THE TATTOOED GIRL
A NOVEL
by Joyce Carol Oates
June 17, 2003. Joshua Seigl, 38, a celebrated, self absorbed, reclusive author, is forced for reasons of failing, decaying health (a nerve disorder) to surrender his much-prized bachelor's independence. Advertising for an assistant, he unwittingly embarks upon the most dangerous adventure of his privileged life. Alma Busch, a sensuous, physically attractive young woman with bizarre burned tattoos covering much of her eyes and body, stirs in Seigl a complex of emotions: pity? desire? responsibility? guilt? She is nearly illiterate. Unaware of her painful past and her troubled personality, Seigl hires her as his assistant. As the novel alternates between Seigl's and Alma's points of view, the naïve altruism of the one and the virulent anti-Semitism of the other clash in a tragedy of thwarted erotic desire. She steals from Joshua, and shower her anti Jewish boyfriend with the stolen trinkets. With her masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Joyce Carol Oates probes the contemporary tragedy of ethnic hatred and challenges our accepted limits of desire. The Tattooed Girl may be her most controversial novel. It is dedicated to Philip Roth (author of The Human Stain). Click to read more.









[book] HUNTING MIDNIGHT
A novel
by Richard Zimler
July 2003. Delacorte Press. Zimler, a university teacher near Lisbon, was lauded for his last novel, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon. In this new novel, which spans 2 continents and 3 generations, we encounter a child, an African slave, and secret Jews in 19th Century Portugal. He has created another historical mystery. In 1798, John Zarco Stewart, a 7 year old half Scottish boy in the city of Porto befriends Midnight, an freed slave, African magician and healer. As an adult, when Napoleon's armies invade Portugal, violence again intrudes on John's fragile peace, and seals his passage into adulthood with another devastating loss. But from the wreckage comes revelation as he uncovers truths and lies hidden by the people he loved and trusted most, and discovers the act of unspeakable betrayal that destroyed his family--and his faith. And so his shattering quest begins as he travels to America, to hunt for hope in a land shackled by unforgivable sin. Click to read more.









[book] FABULOUS SMALL JEWS
Stories
by JOSEPH EPSTEIN
July 2003.
Fans of his best-selling Snobbery: The American Version will recognize the wit, insight, and incisive social examination in Epstein's new collection of stories, Fabulous Small Jews. In these pages are artists, writers, a commodities trader, a concert pianist, all at various crossroads and turning points in their lives. These are classic stories with universal themes: the rights of talent, the attempt to shake one's identity, the desperation of strangled impulses, the complexities of family love. But as always with Epstein, the magic, the charm, and the humor are in his lavish details. The stories in Fabulous Small Jews are small worlds writ large, and Epstein's observant eye and witty voice bring them alive on the page. Click to read more.









[book] When the Chickens Went on Strike
by Erica Silverman, Sholem Aleichem, and Matthew Trueman (Illustrator)

Dutton, July 2003
One Rosh Hashanah, a boy overhears some chickens planning a strike. They are sick of being used for Kapores, the New Year custom in which people swing a live chicken over their heads, hoping to erase their bad deeds. When all of the chickens run away, the women try to coax them back with grain, the men try to get them back with force, and the rabbi tries to negotiate. Finally the boy pleads, "Without Kapores, I will never be able to make my papa proud." A chicken responds, "Boychick, for this you need a chicken?" This amusing and telling story about wise chickens and foolish villagers will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever wanted to be a better person




[book cover click here] Writing the Book of Ester
by Louise Domaratius
July 2003. Celia Davis, 29 years old & recently divorced, has secured a good position teaching English in the beautiful Loire Valley. Among her students is a mysterious, mature young man who in time, tells her of his family--a Muslim father & a Jewish mother. His twin sister, Zahra, is also at the same school, wanting to assimilate, pretending to be Italian & hanging out with some of the least tolerant students. She has dyed her long hair blonde & developed a sharp tongue, edged with shame, envy & rebellion. When Medhi & Zahra were infants their father was killed while walking home during a bombing in the Iraq/Iran war. To support her family his mother returned to journalism & became a voice for women in a male dominated nation. Now she has been incarcerated in a Tehran prison, for all manner of incontestible treason, most of which seem to revolve around her not being a good Muslim. As Mehdi's stories unfold, Celia learns more about this brave woman whom she refers as Ester, paying homage to the Biblical Jewish wife of the King of Persia who pled for her people's freedom.Click to read more.









[book] The Autograph Man:
A Novel
by Zadie Smith
October 1, 2002. Random House. Alex-Li Tandem, a half-Chinese/half-Jewish autograph trader, sells autographs. He is a 27 year old on a quest, but a small blip in a huge worldwide network of desire. His business is to hunt for names on paper, collect them, sell them, and occasionally fake them-all to give the people what they want: a little piece of Fame. He has issues with intimacy. But what does Alex want? Only the return of his dead father, the reinstatement of some kind of all-powerful, benevolent God-type figure, the end of religion, something for his headache, three different girls (including girlfriend Esther), infinite grace, and the rare autograph of 1950's movie actress Kitty Alexander. Kitty is sacred to Alex-Li. The Autograph Man is a deeply funny existential tour around the hollow things of modernity: celebrity, cinema, and the ugly triumph of symbol over experience. Through London and then New York, searching for the only autograph that has ever mattered to him, Alex follows the paper trail while resisting the mystical lure of Kabbalah (is Adam's pot filled search for the shards and godhead similar to Alex-Li's search for the elusive autograph?) and Zen, and avoiding all collectors, con men, and interfering rabbis who would put themselves in his path. Pushing against the tide of his generation, Alex-Li is on his way to finding enlightenment, otherwise known as some part of himself that cannot be signed, celebrated, or sold. Click to read more.







[book] Three Daughters
by Letty Cottin Pogrebin (Ms Magazine founding editor).
October 17, 2002. Pogrebin's first novel. An ebullient novel about family secrets and the triumph of sisterly love. Driven by a legacy of lies, the shame of their own imperfections, and the impending chaos in each of their well-ordered married lives, the three Wasserman daughters struggle with themselves and one another to break their parents' silence and understand their past. Shoshanna, control freak and world-class problem solver, stands on the brink of a Big Birthday in the shadow of the Evil Eye (she should read The Sabbath by Heschel), trying to enjoy her happiness and overcome her fears while also engineering a double reconciliation between her estranged sisters, and between Leah and their rabbi father, Rabbi Sam Wasserman. Leah, a brilliant English professor and unreconstructed leader of the left, eloquent and foul-mouthed, a crusading feminist and a passionately conflicted wife and mother, grapples with the meaning of abandonment and the unfamiliar demands of her own roiling needs. She, the oldest, was born to Rabbi Sam and his crazy first wife, Dena. As he approaches age 90, can she reconcile with him on his trip to the USA from Israel? Rachel (a stepchild of Rabbi Sam, the daughter of his second wife, Esther), who has papered over her losses with an athlete's discipline, a fact fetishist's sense of order, and a pragmatism bordering on self-sacrifice, watches her carefully constructed world fall apart and in the rubble discovers the woman she was meant to be. Can she leverage her love of Torah and her father's adoration into a late career in the rabbinate? Click to read more.







[book] LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, THE ORIGINAL MUSIC OF THE HEBREW ALPHABET AND WEEKEND IN MUSTARA
Two Novella
by Curt Leviant
October 2002. Univ of Wisconsin Press. Two novellas by this author of five novels, including The Yemenite Girl. "Ladies and Gentleman..." is set in commnist Budapest. Ferdinand Friedman, a survivor, believes he possesses the Rosetta Stone of Judaica, the greatest Jewish manuscripts. He is willing to share it with Dr Isaac Gantz, a musicologist, if.......... "Weekend in Mustara" is set in a European island nation of Mustara, which is run by a dictator but tolerates Judaism. A scholar of medieval Hebrew manuscripts comes to the island, searching for traces of the works of Yehudah Halevi. In a comic and absurd sequence of events, the scholar becomes enmeshed in the small Jewish community of the island and their loyalties, and loses his concept of the time in which we live.







[book] VERSES OF FORGIVENESS
By Myriam Antaki
Translated by M de Jager
November 2002. A novel that I best describe in the style of socialist stilted lyricism. By the famed Christian Syrian novelist (who says in Syria all the religions get along), we get a look at the inside thoughts of a Palestinian suicide bomber who discovers his shocking past. This was written in the terrorist state of Syria prior to September 11. In the story of jihad and martyrdom, Ahmed is a Palestinian terrorist awaiting his death. His mother, Marie, a Christian, seeks him out before he leaves, and tells him that his absent father was actually a Jew and Holocaust survivor. David, his father, was a member of the Irgun. David escaped deportation to Dachau from his French village, escaped to Spain, and came to Palestine. He never knew Marie was pregnant. Ahmed was abandoned by his mother as a baby, left at a mosque, and raised by a Moslem Sheik. The author tries to show how his father in the Irgun murdered Palestinian civilians, and Ahmed, his son, will also murder civilians, albeit Jewish ones. Like father, like son. She writes of the suffering of Jews in European death camps and Palestinians in refugee camps. Hmm.. a unique novl that seeks to humanize a murderous suicide bomber. Click to read more.







[book] SUMMERLAND
a novel
by Michael Chabon.

September 17, 2002. Talk/Mir-A-Max Books. On the night of September 16th, we will break our Yom Kippur fasts, and on the morning of September 17th, having survived and having been hopefully written in the Book of Life for another year, we shall purchase Michael Chabon's newest novel (bring back the Nathan stories, hehe). In Chabon's first published books for children of all ages, this father of three creates a vivid fantasy world where baseball is king. Ethan Feld, age 11, and his father, a designer of blimps move to Clam Island, Wash, after Ethan's mother dies. Clam Island (he lives on clams, he doesn't eat treyf) is known for its almost constant rain, save for an area on its westernmost tip called Summerland by the locals which "knew a June, July and August that were perfectly dry and sunshiny." In the westernmost tip, Summerland, Ethan struggles to play baseball for the Ruth's Fluff and Fold Roosters. He isn't any good. But who shows up? A mystical baseball scout (can 100 year old, Negro Leaguer, Ringfinger Brown, be Elijah the Prophet?). The scout recruits Ethan and escorts him through a gateway to a series of interconnected worlds that are home to magical creatures called ferishers (cousins to Suffolk Fairies, I suppose) and an evil, shape-changing overlord called Coyote. Ethan and two of his fellow teammates soon accept a mission to save these other worlds (plus the one they live in) from ultimate destruction at Coyote's hand. When his father's well-being is also threatened, Ethan's quest becomes all the more urgent. To succeed, Ethan and his friends must find a way to beat giants, ferishers and others in a series of games where striking out truly has apocalyptic implications.









[book] The Russian Debutante's Handbook
by Gary Shteyngart

June 2002. A first novel with great critical acclaim. Born in Leningrad in 1972, Gary came to the USA at age 7 with his family of Russian Jewish émigrés. This is a comic novel of not a immigrant success story, but that of a failure. The Russian Debutante's Handbook is infused with energy and wit and a brilliant use of language. Hilarious, extravagant, yet uncannily true to life, it follows the adventures of Vladimir, a young Russian-American immigrant, whose capitalist dreams and desires for a girlfriend lead him off the straight and narrow and into uncharted territory. It takes us from the dreary confines of New York City's Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society (Gary used to work for NYANA) to the hip frontier wilderness of Prava-the Eastern European Paris of the nineties-whose grand and glorious beauty is marred only by the shadow of the looming statue of Stalin's foot. A client, Rybakov, bribes Vladimir to get him American citizenship, confiding that his son, the Groundhog, is a leading businessman (in prostitutes and drugs) in Pravathe Paris of the nineties in the fictional Republika Stolovaya. Vladimir fakes a citizenship ceremony for Rybakov in order to curry favor with the Groundhog. Then, because he has unwisely repelled the sexual advances of crime boss Jordi while trying to make some illicit bucks to keep his girlfriend, Francesca, in squid and sake dinners in Manhattan, Vladimir leaves abruptly for Prava. Once there, and backed by the Groundhog, Vladimir embarks on a scheme to fleece the American students who have flocked to Prava's legendary scene. The Russian Debutante's Handbook is both a madcap adventure and a serious look at what it means to be an outsider in America, and what it means to be an American. Vladimir's picaresque adventures satirize Americans' and Russians' preconceptions about their former cold war enemies and send up their illusions about themselves. Raised in Russia, schooled in America, Vladimir is a knowledgeable but itchy outsider wherever he goes. "Vladimir was 50 percent functional American, and 50 percent cultured Eastern European in need of a haircut and a bath," Mr. Shteyngart writes. "He was the best of both worlds. Historically, a little dangerous, but, for the most part, nicely tamed by Coca-Cola" and "blue-light specials." In New York, college Marxists and politically correct liberals adopt Vladimir as their pet, and he soon becomes an avatar of "Immigrant Chic," embraced by his girlfriend Francesca's parents and courted by her Slavophile friend Frank, who says things like, "Don't forget that Vladimir has an expansive Russian soul," and "Camaraderie and salvation, that's his game." In Eastern Europe, where he is regarded as an expert on America, Vladimir sets about giving the Groundhog's troops "American Lessons," goading his students to rid themselves of their kitschiest possessions: "the nylon track suits, the Rod Stewart compilations, the worn Romanian sneakers, everything that had qualified the Groundhog's vast crew as Easterners, Soviets, cold war losers." To Vladimir, "Americans were too keen to invent their own troubles," Mr. Shteyngart writes. "To paraphrase an old Russian expression, they were wild with their own fat." As for Russians like the Groundhog, Vladimir sees them as history's casualties: "Everything they grew up with is gone. So what are their options now? They can either shoot their way through the gray economy or make $25 a month driving a bus in Dnepropetrovsk."







[book] THE STRAND OF A THOUSAND PEARLS
by Dorit Rabinyan, Translated from the Hebrew from Yael Lotan

June 2002. Random House. A Novel. From the author of PERSIAN BRIDES. How should I put this? If you like storytelling, this is the book to buy for for Summer read. Solly Azizyan has brought his family, his four daughters from Persia/Iran to Israel. There are Sofia, Matti, Lizzie, and Marcelle. The book moves back and forth between the eleventh birthday party for a crazy Matti (who has the energy of two: herself and her dead twin brother), and the history and future of the family and the loves of the daughters..







[book] PRAGUE. A novel
by Arthur Phillips

June 2002. Random House. A detached, youthful, clever first novel, Prague depicts an intentionally lost, ironic Lost Generation (these guys are a dime a dozen, being airlifted into Budapest in 1990) as it follows five North American expats who come to Budapest (not Prague) in the early 1990s to seek their fortune-financial, romantic, and spiritual-in an exotic city newly opened to the West. They play a game called Sincerity, in which they lie or tell the truth, and collect points if they get others to believe them. There is Charles Gabor from Cleveland, whose father is Hungarian. Charles wants to cash in on his Hungarian background with a big business score. Mark is a gay Canadian working on his thesis who needs some Prozac. Emily comes from the Midwest; Scott Price is a blond surfer Jew from California, in BudaPest to teach English; and John Price is Scott's brother who longs for Emily. John, a virgin to sex and life, scores a job at BudapesToday, the expat paper. They all harbor the vague suspicion that their counterparts in Prague, where the atmospheric decay of post-Cold War Europe is even more cinematically perfect, have it better. Still, they hope to find adventure, inspiration, a gold rush, or history in the making. What they actually find is a deceptively beautiful place that they often fail to understand. What does it mean to fret about your fledgling career when the man across the table was tortured by two different regimes? How does your short, uneventful life compare to the lives of those who actually resisted, fought, and died? What does your angst mean in a city still pocked with bullet holes from war and crushed rebellion? Click to read more.









[book] THE BOXER
a novel
by Jurek Becker (1937-1997), translated from the German

July 2002. Arcade. Originally published in 1976, Becker is mainly known for his novel, JAKOB THE LIAR. Released from a concentration camp after the war, Aron Blank looks for and eventually finds the only surviving member of his family, his son Mark, who he was forced to abandon when Mark was only two years old. Working first in the black market and later as a Russian interpreter, Aron tries to rebuild a normal life for himself and his son in East Berlin. Decades later, with Mark lost in the Arab-Israeli war, Aron tells his story to a young interviewer-the flow of his poignant narrative occasionally interrupted by their brief exchanges, which are peppered with humor. Merle Rubin, writing in the LA Times, wrote that the author's father survived a death camp and settled in East Berlin after the War. The author, himself, was bron in 1937, and miraculously survived the war and the Lodz Ghetto as a child.







[book] HAREM:
by Dora Levy Mossanen

August 2002. a novel. A seductive and intriguing journey from the humble Persian Jewish quarter to the fascinating world of shahs, soothsayers, eunuchs, and sultanas, Harem follows three generations of strong-willed and cunning women: Rebekah -- a poor girl married to the abusive blacksmith, Jacob the fatherless -- who emerges from her disastrous match with a mysterious brand between her breasts; Gold Dust, Rebekah's treasured daughter, who enters the opulent and perilous world of the harem and captivates the shah with her singing bones; and Gold Dust's daughter, the revered and feared albino princess Raven, who will one day rule the empire. Click to read extensive reviews







[book] CHAINS AROUND THE GRASS
A novel by by Naomi Ragen

Fall 2001. The Jerusalem Post said "Chains around the Grass, is the kind of book that you never want to end. It is a timeless tale that not only offers real insight into human character and family relationships but also generously offers the reader a way to relate to at least one aspect or one character in the story." Set in the 1950's in New York City, CHAINS AROUND THE GRASS is a portrait of a Jewish-American family that glows with affection, tenderness, and courage when tragedy changes the lives of all who are left behind. A passionately personal and heartfelt book, based heavily on autobiographical material, this is the book Ms. Ragen says that she became an author to write. Sara is barely six years old when her beloved father unexpectedly vanishes from her life. Her mother, Ruth, a dreamy and reluctant housewife, is now left with three small children to bring up, and the knowledge that she will somehow have to pick up the pieces, if she is to survive and fend for the family. But Sara takes up a vigil at the window of their dismal apartment, refusing to accept that her father won't be coming back. She searches the movements of other men for traits of her father. Throughout the book, she likens herself to the child character played by Shirley Temple in the The Little Princess. Numerous times, Sara describes how she refuses to believe her father is really gone forever. To this bittersweet and moving tale of childhood and the loss of innocence, the author brings the added intensity of a personal memoir. There seems no way out of the family's poverty or their life in a low-income housing project. Jesse, the older brother, is beaten by the situation only adding to the family's burden. While Sara deals with the pain internally, becoming an introverted little girl and a virtual prisoner in her own home, content to looking out the window at the chained off grass below. The family is not strictly Orthodox Jewish at first, but after the death of her father, Sara is enrolled in a private, Jewish day school not far from her home. Sara feels inadeuqte at the affluent school, but in her study of Judaism she is slowly able to help her family to overcome the death of her father, and even give her mother and siblings strength. This is Naomi Ragen at her best, her writing charged with a searing, emotional truth as she unravels a tale of childhood, betrayal and the unending resilience of family love. Click the book cover to read more.




[book] 10TH GRADE - A NOVEL
by Joseph Weisberg (editor at Slate Magazine Slate.com)

January 15 2002. Random House. Joseph Weisberg knows unrequited love. He was best of friends with a girl in high school, but like all good Jewish boys, he remained friends and never made a romantic move on her. Ahh.. So this pain is good fodder for a first novel. Jeremiah Reskin has big plans for tenth grade, his sophomore year in High School. He wants to make some friends; he wants to make it to second base with a girl. It's not going too well at first, but when he meets a group of semibohemian outcasts, things start to change. Soon he's negotiating his way through group back rubs and trying to find the courage to make a move on Renee Shopmaker, the hottest girl in school. At the behest of his composition teacher, Jeremy's also chronicling everything in his own novel-a disastrously ungrammatical but unflinching look at sophomore year. Click to read more.







[book] ME TIMES THREE
by Alex Witchel (The New York Times)

January 2002. Everything's going right for Sandra Berlin. She is living in Manhattan, climbing the editorial ladder at ultra-chic fashion magazine Jolie!, (ELLE) and she's just become engaged to Bucky Ross, her high-school sweetheart. Bucky's her knight in shining WASP armor (she is from Polish Jewish stock), a successful ad executive and a descendant of Betsy Ross, and their future promises a life of comfortable suburban bliss: the Tudor mansion, the beautiful children, the country club. And then, three weeks later, at a party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sandy meets Bucky's other fiancée. Who tells her about Bucky's third fiancée. Which begins Sandy's journey through the unfamiliar world of heartbreak and betrayal-and the most excruciating blind dates in the history of singledom. As she tries to piece her life back together, she relies on the common sense and compassion of her best friend, Paul-a rising young film agent, gorgeous, gay, and moneyed-to keep her sane. But even Paul has his secrets, and soon Sandy is forced, on her own, to reexamine her past and, more important, what she wants for her future. Me Times Three is comic and tender, outrageous and wise-a shrewd, dead-on portrait of a certain slice of New York life. It's a story about wished-for ideals versus hard realities, about being who you are versus the desire to fit in, and, finally, about how love can surprise us in the most unexpected ways. Click to read more.







[book] THE WAR AT HOME : A MEMOIR A NOVEL
by Nora Eisenberg

February 2002. PAPER BACK EDITION. Lucy Lehman has a secret. Everybody loves her eccentric family but nobody knows what's really going on. Her mother is a respected dance teacher, whose creative movement classes can calm the most incorrigible Bronx delinquents. Her father, just returned from World War Two, is a working class hero. On a good night they'll eat canapés and marshmallows for dinner, do the dishes in the tub while the kids are taking a bath and sing old labor songs. But on a bad night, the insults fly along with the furniture. Told with wit, understanding, and remarkable pluck, The War at Home is an autobiographical novel that follows an inseparable brother and sister who flourish despite a household in which insanity is the norm. Every page summons the lost world of the outer boroughs of New York City in the 1950's, where apartment houses tower over abandoned orchards, lonely kids roam the woods of Bronx Park unafraid, and the Bronx River ripples with the hope of Huckleberry Finn's Mississippi. Click to read more.







[book] TEPPER ISN'T GOING OUT
by CALVIN TRILLING

January 2002. A sardonic novel. Random House. Murray Tepper loves to park his car in Manhattan. He knows all the rules and he loves to sit in his parked car and infuriate other drivers who think that he is 'going out' of the space. Only to find out that he is staying. Tepper's behavior sometimes irritates the people who want his spot. ("Is that where you live? Is that car rent-controlled?") It also irritates the mayor-Frank Ducavelli (read as RUDY), known in tabloid headlines as Il Duce-who sees Murray Tepper as a harbinger of what His Honor always calls "the forces of disorder." But once New Yorkers become aware of Tepper, some of them begin to suspect that he knows something they don't know. And an ever-increasing number of them are willing to line up for the opportunity to sit in his car with him and find out. Tepper Isn't Going Out is a wise and witty story of an ordinary man who, perhaps innocently, changes the world around him. Click to read more.







[book] BE MY KNIFE
by DAVID GROSSMAN, Translated from Hebrew

January 2002. A novel. FSG. A book in three sections. First Yair speaks, then Miriam. Yair Einhorn, a Jerusalem bookseller and married father, sends love letters to a woman he met at a party. He doesn't want sex or a physical relationship, he only wants to influence this woman through his letters. This woman, Miriam, with carnal desires, lives with her lover, Amos, and their son (although the boy is probably not hers, but the son of her former lover who was also Amos's lover). In the final section, they meet. Click to read more.







[book] The Thirty-Third Hour : The Torah of Moshe Katan
by Mitchell Chefitz

January 2002. A novel. St Martins. The second installment of the Moshe Katan series of stories. Rabbi Arnold Greenberg is scholarly and leads a very large Miami synagogue. He has hired Moshe Katan to create and teach a family learning class, using Katan's highly untraditional approach to Jewish learning. But Brenda has made an accusation against Katan. Greenberg is comfortable with Tisha B'Av, while Katan is more Purim if you catch my drift; Greenberg would like to avoid the unruly children of a Purim celebration. But now, due to the accusations, he must investigate Katan's teachings and methods. Click to read more.







[book] SOTAH
by NAOMI RAGEN

October 2001. PAPERBACK EDITION A novel. Love-conquers-all genre takes on deep philosophical questions as Ragen (Jephte's Daughter, 1989) continues her exploration of Orthodox Jewish life in this story of a woman accused of adultery- -the sotah. The setting is the ultra-orthodox milieu of Jerusalem, where the men study the Torah in yeshivas while their wives bear numerous children, clean and cook, and find outside work to supplement their meager incomes. Here, heroine Dina's struggle to be independent and still religiously observant provides the more profound concerns of a story that, despite its religious background, is basically your typically rosy fade-out into a technicolor sunset, with all problems--and they are not insubstantial--wrapped up in the last chapter. Dina Reich, the beautiful and dutiful daughter of Rabbi Reich and his remarkably energetic and saintly wife, yearns for love, for knowledge of a wider world than the narrow one she is confined to. A brief romance, ended because her family could not pay the requisite dowry, means that Dina must accept a husband chosen by the sect's matchmaker and approved by her parents. She marries good but painfully inarticulate Judah, a carpenter; bears a child; then, bored and lonely, begins a relationship with a more worldly neighbor. Though it's not consummated, religious vigilantes threaten her, and at their behest she flees to New York, where she works as a maid for a wonderful family, who, when she breaks down, do all they can to bring about the inevitable happy ending. Not only is Dina reunited with Judah, whose virtues she now appreciates, but she also finds a satisfactory compromise between the comforting security of religion and tradition and the more fulfilling aspects of sectarian life. Click to read more.







[book] The Love of Stones
by Tobias Hill

January 2002. A novel. I am following in the footsteps of a great jewel. It has been in Istanbul at least once. A stone from the artefact was sold here three centuries ago, when the shoulder-knot itself was already as old as that again. And great jewels have a way of returning to their past. Anywhere they have been - anyone they have been with - is somewhere they can be again. I sit in the place which is not mine and listen to the slow shock, shock of the ceiling fan. Ismet switches off the scales. 'Pretty little things, aren't they? I'll give you the best price I can.' The Love of Stones follows three lives all linked by one precious jewel. Katharine Sterne searches the goldsmiths' quarters and hidden archives of contemporary London. Tokyo, and Istanbul, following the trail of a long-lost precious brooch of rubies, diamonds, and pearls once worn by Queen Elizabeth I. Two hundred years earlier, a pair of Iraqi Jewish brothers travel to London, their fortunes made by an unearthed jar of mysterious and priceless stones. An epic story spanning two continents and six centuries, The Love of Stones follows three very different people, each consumed by the same desire. At the heart of their quests is the Three Brethren, a legendary jewel that binds them together in an irresistible narrative. Click to read more.







[book] THE GOLEMS OF GOTHAM
by Thane Rosenbaum

February 2002. A novel. Rosenbaum, Fordham Law Professor (Law and Literature) and author of "Second Hand Smoke", has created this interesting novel about an interesting Upper West Side family, a young girl, a violinist, a golem, the spirits of dead Yiddish poets, some South American rabbis at a Manhattan shul that meets in a church. I haven't read it yet. I'll let you know more when it comes out. Click to read more.







[book] HESTER AMONG THE RUINS
by Binnie Kirshenbaum

February 2002. A novel. Hester Rosenfeld, born at the end of the baby boom, Hester Rosenfeld is a historian and American Jew. She travels to Germany (where you get better service when you where a Star of David necklace) to interview Heinrich Falk, and older married historian. They have an affair, a divorce occurs. Slowly we learn more about Hester and her insecurities, her feelings about her parents, he comfort or discomfort as a modern Jew in Munich and the new Germany. Click to read more.







[book] CONSENT
A novel by Ben Shrank

March 2002. Random House. Mike Zabusky meets Katherine Staresina at a party given by Mike's doctoral thesis adviser Matthew Weingarden. They are instantly drawn to each other-so instantly that they have a sexual collision up against the party-premises' bathroom wall less than two hours after they meet. Mike immediately feels surer of his love for Katherine than of anything else in his life-his moribund thesis about the Golem (an artifical creature out of Jewish folklore); Weingarden, who appears to simultaneously support and undermine Mike's studies; and his lonely, angry stock-trading father, soon to commit suicide and thus further tangle the emotional knot, first tied in childhood, that Mike must try to untie. So when Katherine begins a mystifying game of intimacy and rejection, and as Mike learns more about her troubled past, and as he seems to lose more ground with every effort to win her heart, he finally comes face to face with his own Golem-like existence. Who is controlling him? What can he do to escape-and determine-his own fate? What is the truth behind his father's death? Consent paints a poignant, surprising, and ultimately profound portrait of a young man who faces the universal challenge of balancing passion with wisdom. Click to read more.







[book cover for Rudner] A LIFE WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES
by STEPHEN ELLIOT.

2001. This is a harrowing novel.. even more so since it is autobiographical. Mission district-Bay area author, Stephen Elliot, age 30, was a runaway on the streets of Chicago at age 13. The son of a pornographer, the author was a homeless drug abuser, an abused kid, and a genius; he lived in a mental hospital and a series of group homes as a teen and finally got turned around by a Chicago rabbi who got the Jewish Childrens Bureau of Chicago to take Stephen into one of their group homes. This is Mr. Elliot's novel about Paul. PW wrote, "Paul, 14, runs away from home and is quickly picked up by the police after slashing his wrists. Placed in the adolescent unit of a mental institution and deeply depressed, he reviews his life, seeking solace from the motley crew of his fellow inmates. All are equally rootless and confused. French Fry is horribly disfigured following an attempt to burn himself to death; Mike swallowed pills; Jay set fire to a church. Escaping with Tanya, another inmate, Paul commences a twisted life on the streets, interrupted by a short, terrifying stint at the infamous Robert Taylor Homes housing project. Although Elliott keeps the scenes strong and succinct, he frequently pushes the pace so hard that the reader is unable digest what has come before. His ability to capture the fragile sensibility of troubled youth is uncanny, however, and his descriptions of life on the streets are crookedly lyrical. Paul tries to retain his humanity despite being placed in a series of ineffective group homes, and though constantly struggling to adjust to the outside world and become a "normal" human being, he is restless, unable to stay in one place; he eventually hits bottom during a stint in a mental hospital. Finally landing in yet another Chicago group home, he makes a last push toward sanity and stability. The bittersweet conclusion doesn't quite satisfy, but this is an impressive debut, a promising work of fiction and an eloquent expression of life as few people are unlucky enough to know it." Click to read more.







[book cover for Rudner] TICKLED PINK
by RITA RUDNER.

November 2001. Pocket Books. Comedian Rita Rudner's debut novel. In 1980, Mindy Solomon leaves Florida for the bright lights of Broadway. She is injured and must pursue stand up comedy. Mindy is barely succeeding, but an appearance on Letterman pushes her to near stardom, and she tries out for a sitcom, but it turns out she will be competing for the role with her best friend. Click to read more.







[book] THE GHOST OF HANNAH MENDES. A Novel
by NAOMI RAGEN

November 2001. Paperback edition of Ragen latest novel. Catherine da Costa of Manhattan seeks to leave her family tree, her grandchildren, a legacy. They aren't interested. But then, Catherine is visited by a ghost of her matriarch. She entices Catherine and her family on a trek across Europe in search of their pasts. Will this adventure change the course of Catherine's granddaughters?








Have you heard the news on Isaac Babel (1894-1941) (author of the books, Red Cavalry Stories and Odessa Tales)? He was murdered by the Soviets in Lubyanka Prison in 1940, but his unpublished papers are in a Soviet archives... somewhere in there. And when found, his novel may be somewhere in there. Speaking of Isaac Babel, keep your eyes open for the November 2001 publication by his daughter, Nathalie Babel of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF ISAAC BABEL with an introduction by Cynthia Ozick.
As the New York Times wrote, Babel comes close to Proust and Kafka. Hemingway wrote tha Babel used a kind of cauterizing prose that was even leaner and more concise than his own. Born in Odessa in 1894, he came to the attention of Maxim Gorky. Babel's stories of the undercover Jew who travels with Cossacks, the enemy of Jews, during the Polish-Soviet War of 1920, shows the brutal, syphilitic world of valor and violence of Cossacks, as well as the destruction of Jewish shtetls. His Odessa Stories focus on the exploits of Benya Krik, a Jewish gangster. Click the book cover to read more.


[book] AZAREL
By Karoly Pap

A novel by Karoly Pap, the famed writer, who was taken to Buchenwald and died at Bergen Belsen in 1944 at the age of 47. AZAREL has never been translated into English before. Set in rural Hungary, this is the story of Gyuri, son of a rabbi, whose grandfather thinks that there Modern Orthodoxy will lead to ruin. (This was published in 1937). The grandfather, Papa Jeremiah, takes Gyuri from his parents, and raises him in a tent. Gyuri becomes devoted to his grandfather, but then Papa Jeremiah dies. Gyuri is returned to his parents, but father and son fight over obedience and Jewish observance.










[book] GOOD HARBOR
A novel by Anita Diamant.

October 2001. Scribners. A novel. Kathleen, a Jew by choice (born Catholic) and Joyce, a secular Jew, befriend each other in their middle age; they meet in a synagogue in Gloucester and go for walks and talks along the beach. Kathleen, 59, is facing a struggle with breast cancer and radiation treatment (a disease that killed her sister), while Joyce, 42, is having a crisis as her 12 year old daughter rebels and her husband grows distant.






[book] OLD MEN AT MIDNIGHT
By CHAIM POTOK

October 2001. Knopf. 304 pages, Chaim Potok, the master of the fictional clashes between cultures (My Name is Asher Lev, The Chosen, Wanderings), JTS Grad, and celebrated author, has written thee three related novellas about one woman who touches the lives of three men. Ilana Davita Dinn is the listener to whom three men relate their lives. In the first story, as a young girl, she listens to the story of the Ark Builder, a man who builds torah arks for synagogues and what happened when the Nazis invade his Polish town. In the next story, she is a newly minted teacher, and reads the story of a KGB agent who as a young man during the Russian Civil War is saved by a doctor who he later meets during the Kremlin doctors' plot. In the third story, she is a famous writer and neighbor to a distinguiches professor of military warfare who is trying to write his memoirs who gets distracted by her presence and the illness of his wife.




[book] THE SAME SEA.
By Amos OZ, translated by Nicholas De Lange

October 2001. A POETIC novel about mortality, and a time to make peace, and more. Albert, an accountant has been made a widower when his wife, Nadia, passes away. Their son, Rico, has gone off to Bangladesh, Tibet, and places in the East, where his mother visits him in visions. An elderly widow is interested in Albert, but Albert desires Dita, the young girlfriend of his absent son; she has moved in with Albert in Rico's absence. Click to read more




[book] THE WANDERING JEWS
by Joseph Roth

November 2001. Translated by Michael Hoffman. Comment by Elie Wiesel. Now in paperback. The classic portrait of the Jewish people, authored in 1927, by Roth, who died in 1939 in Paris..




[book] AUSTERLITZ.
a novel
By W.G. SEBALD, translated from German (Rings of Saturn; The Emigrants)

October 2001, Random House. Austerlitz... what kind of name is that? Isn't it the name of a train staion? Maybe it is close to the name of Auschwitz? Hmm..., this is a scholarly novel about a character named Jacques Austerlitz. Halfway through the book, the depressed Austerlitz, who was raised in a stoic Welsh family (with a name of Jacques??), discovers that he was actually born to joy filled Prague Jews. His mother was killed by the Nazis, and his father might be living somewhere in Paris. Jacques was saved by sending him to England. A uniquely crafted story by a writer with a growing cult readership. Wer ist Austerlitz? Ein rätselhafter Fremder, der immer wieder an den ungewöhnlichsten Orten auftaucht: am Bahnhof, am Handschuhmarkt, im Industriequartier ... Und jedes Mal erzählt er ein Stück mehr von seiner Lebensgeschichte, der Geschichte eines unermüdlichen Wanderers durch unsere Kultur und Architektur und der Geschichte eines Mannes, dem als Kind Heimat, Sprache und Name geraubt wurden.




[book] GOOD IN BED.
by Jennifer Weiner

Move over Bridget. This is the story of Jewish single life in America. Cannie Shapiro, a zaftig Philadelphia Jewish journalist, with a lesbian mother and distant physician father. She never wanted to be famous. The pop culture reporter was perfectly content writing about other people's lives on the pages of the Philadelphia Examiner. But the day she opens up a national women's magazine to find out that her ex-boyfriend, Bruce Guberman, has been chronicling their three year long ex-sex life is the day her life changes forever. Loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world, Bruce has written. Cannie is plunged into misery, and into the most amazing year of her life. The author, Jennifer Weiner, 31, like Connie, is a Jewish journalist in Philadelphia with a lesbian mother, a physician father and a lifelong battle with her weight. Both the author and the character were born in Louisiana. Both drink more alcohol than Bridget Jones. Weiner's debut shines strongest in its witty dialogue. Shapiro is clever and sarcastic, caustic but generally kind. Funny is the fat person's defense mechanism, she says.








[book] Becky Bernstein Goes Berlin
by Holly-Jane Rahlens

1997. Falling madly in love in the early 1970s with Ju+a5rgen Markovski, Becky Bernstein, a nice Jewish girl from Queens, accompanies him back to Germany, only to discover that her true love is not Ju+a5rgen, but rather his hometown of Berlin.









[book] THE SPEED OF LIGHT
By Elizabeth Rosner

September 2001. Ballantine. A poetic and emotional novel. Paula and Julian Perel are the adult children of Holocaust survivors. They live in Berkeley. Their father, Jacob Perel, a survivor of Auschwitz was quiet, was silent, and has passed this legacy onto his son. Paula goes to Hungary to learn her father's truth. The siblings learn to face grief from their housekeeper, Sola, a Latina who was the victim of her own Mexican government's torture, massacre, and abuse.






[book cover click here] ESTHER STORIES
By Peter Orner

November 2001, Paperback edition Debut collection presents 34 stories, many no more than a page or two long, that span America. Though the physical territory covered is broad, the emotional probing of the characters is the high point here. The book is divided into four parts: the first two concern the lives of unrelated strangers; the last two present two assimilated Jewish families, one on the East Coast, the other in the Midwest. In the title story, the narrator tries to form a picture of his dead Aunt Esther with fragments of anecdotes
.







[book] ESTER'S CHILD
By Jean Sasson (author of the Princess Sultana series of books)

September 2001. A novel. Written in response to a story the author heard while visiting Lebanon and the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp. It is a story about Joseph and ESTER Gale, Jewish survivors of the Treblinka and Auschwitz death camps, who come to Israel; and George and Mary Antoun who flee Haifa for the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut; and former SS Officer Friedrich and Eva Kleist, and how the lives of these three families become intertwined.







[book] THE FAMILY ORCHARD. A novel (The Family Paradise/Eden, hint hint)
by Nomi Eve

Hardcover - 352 pages (September 26, 2000) Knopf. This is Eve's first novel about a pardess, a very sexual pardess. A multigenerational saga. Six generations of a Jewish family from 1837, when Yochanan and Esther marry in Turkish Ottoman Palestine, through the creation of the State of Israel. Although a postmodern, magical fiction, it is nearly autobiographical. A completely unique view of kosher sexual affairs is included also.
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[book] PARADISE PARK
By Allegra Goodman

Dial. March 2001. From the author of Kaaterskill Falls.
Grab a copy of Shir ha Shirim (song of songs), skim them, and then start this novel. In 1974, Sharon Spiegleman, 22, a folkdancer and college dropout, follows her boyfriend to Wakiki Hawaii (where Allegra Goodman lived, and where the rabbi's license plate reads "ShAloha") from Boston via Berkeley and Portland, only to find him shacking up with someone else. Sharon then naively explores various forms of enlightenment, from New Age groups, to an Israeli yeshiva, to Crown Heights style Hasidism, to raising pot, to Pentacostalism, to returning to college, to taking more lovers, to Buddhism. Will she find true love and spirituality? Will she find community and forgiveness?
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[book] MARTYRS CROSSING by Amy Wilentz
Simon and Shuster. March 2001. Amy is the former Jerusalem correspondent for The New Yorker, and a specialist on Haiti. In this novel, the border checkpoints between Israel and the PA have been closed after two bus bombings in Israel. A young Palestinian woman, who wants to get her 2 year old asthmatic son to a hospital in Israel, begs a checkpoint soldier for permission to enter Israel. This is not just any mother. It is the wife of a jailed Hamas terrorist, Hassan Hajimi. Lt Ari Doron calls his superiors many times, trying to gain admittance for Marina and her son Ibrahim. But as he does, Marina's child dies. The answer was no. Lt Doron, who strives for truth, is plagued with guilt and seeks absolution in Ramallah. Colonel Daniel Yizhar is assigned to his case for crisis management. The Palestinian politicians, like Ahmed Amr, clothed in corruption, use this case as a cause du jour at the expense of The Cause. The street calls for "the solider." Into this mess arrives Doctor George Raad from the USA. The child's grandfather and a successful cardiologist (cast Edward Said in the role). Is he right or an anachronism? Is there room for his dissent in the PA? . Click to read more extensive descriptions of the plot.




[book] THE GHOST OF HANNAH MENDES. A Novel
by NAOMI RAGEN

November 2001. Paperback edition of Ragen latest novel. Catherine da Costa of Manhattan seeks to leave her family tree, her grandchildren, a legacy. They aren't interested. But then, Catherine is visited by a ghost of her matriarch. She entices Catherine and her family on a trek across Europe in search of their pasts.




[book] CLUB REVELATION
A Novel By ALLAN APPEL (The Rabbi of Casino Boulevard)

October 2001. Coffee House. The story of three interfaith couples on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and how religion affects, disrupts, redeems or heals their lives. Publisher Weekly said of this novel, "When William Harp, the son of a Southern evangelist minister, opens a restaurant on the bottom floor of a brownstone owned by three old friends and their wives, they have no idea that he plans to make it a Christian-themed cafeteria that he hopes will entice the area's many Jewish residents to convert. All too conveniently, the distaff side of the three couples are all originally Christian (one is now Buddhist) who have accepted their husbands' religions by osmosis, wisecracking in Yiddish and otherwise feeling comfortable in a largely Jewish social milieu. Again, all too conveniently, none of the couples has had children, so the wives are entirely free to pursue their careers. But when Harp's proselytizing Christianity reawakens Marylee Jeffers Levine's longings for spiritual salvation, personal and domestic turmoil ensue for the Levines, the Klains and the Belkins."






[book] THE ROAD TO FEZ. A novel
by Ruth Knafo Setton

Couterpoint, March 2001. A first novel, quite erotic and introspective, too. When she was a young girl, Brit Suleika Lek and her parents move from El Kajda to the USA. She is named for a virgin martyr, Suleika, who was killed in 1834. But at age 18, when Brit's mother dies, she returns to the Moroccan Jewish mellah, where she prepares for a pilgrimage to the grave in Fez of the martyr for whom she is named. But she finds herself falling for her mother's younger brother, Gaby.




[book] SECRET LOVE
by Bart Schneider
March 2001. A new novel by Bart Schneider, the author of Blue Bossa. The book's title (Secret Love) comes from the Doris Day song in the movie "Calamity Jane." The book is set in San Francisco, in the 1960s. The summer is approaching, and Barry Goldwater will be nominated top run against LBJ. Lenny Bruce is on the scene, as is Cassius Clay, Tang OJ mix, the race to the moon, Camus, and Mario Savio. Our hero is Jake Roseman, a Jewish prominent civil rights lawyer and agitator for urban renewal, who is in love with a beautiful black activist, Nisa. Jake, who dresses in Bermuda shorts, is in his 40s at a time when 40 was middle aged. Nisa Boehm (as in La Boheme?) is younger, an actress, and the daughter of a white socialite and a black father who vanished long ago. Nisa's annoyance grows from her Chinatown apartment, as Jake keeps her at arms length from his family. Jake is conflicted. Jake's wife, Inez, has recently committed suicide, and he has two kids. His curmudgeonly senile father is a vile racist. Over the course of their sensually passionate and sexually satisfying affair, Nisa draws Jake out of his remorseful depression and mourning. As their affair continues, we meet Peter, a handsome Jewish actor, who has of course changed his surname to make it in the business. Peter also finds love. After meeting in a foggy spot, Peter enters into a relationship with Simon Sims, a young black som of a minister. Simon, has fallen from his father's faith and taken up with the teachings of the Nation of Islam. So here are Jewish Peter and Muslim, closeted, gay, black, literary, janitor Simon, in love, and on their way to a civil rights march. You can see how the stories get interwoven. Click the cover to read more.




[book] FRIDA a novel. by Barbara Mujica
Overlook Press. January 2001. Hardcover - 320 pages. Historical fiction based on the life of Frida Kahlo, narrated by her younger sister Cristina. A great complement to the two films in the works on the life of Frida. The half Jewish artist, lover of Diego Rivero, and artists' muse.
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[book] GLORY GOES AND GETS SOME
by Emily Carter (as in Anne Roiphe's daughter and Katie Roiphe's sister)

Hardcover - 192 pages (September 1, 2000) Coffeehouse Press. How many kids do you know who were expelled from Kindergarten. They are bound for greatness. Emily Carter, the daughter of author Anne Roiphe (1185 PARK AVE) and sister of Katie Roiphe (Last Night in Paradise : Sex and Morals at the Century's End) has published her collection of 21 linked short stories. I have been anticipating this book for a while, having read profiles of Carter, the one time self-destructive, HIV-positive, East Village, heroin and coke addict. The narrator in most of the stories is Gloria Bronski, who goes from Manhattan to Minnesota to recover from addictions (just like Carter). Bronski is the daughter of Jewish intellectuals (hmmm, just like Carter). Glory (Gloria) craves attention and the attention of men; she also craves drugs. These are great, funny, and touching stories. Among the best of the stories is "The Bride", which takes its theme from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. A story of how one who craves affection and is unloved becomes MONSTROUS when repulsed and rejected.
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[bookcover] BEAUTIFUL WASPS HAVING SEX
The granddaughter of Zelda Zuckerman. Francine Fingerman (like Zelda Zuckerman, no?) changes he name to Frankie Jordan and tries to be a Hollywood screenwriter. Frankie is turning 40 and facing a divorce. Her screenplay is not yet finished, and then she meets her agent's gatekeeper and secretary, Jonathan Prince. He is Jewish, and handsome, oh, and he is 24 and eager. Of course he betrays her, but tthis is Hollywood. Frankie comes to understand herself and her fellow Hollywood Jews better as a result of her experience with Jonathan. Beneath the humor--and Carter is absolutely terrific with one-liners and has an unerring ear for dialogue-is an analysis of why Jews have always played such a major role in the movie industry. In the words of the ALA, "The author paints a Hollywood that is filled with self absorbed, self-hating Jews, who ALL talk EXACTLY like this, and who all have EXTREMELY neurotic parents whose expectations for their children left them NO choice but to become pushy and determinedly upwardly mobile, at WHATEVER cost, NEVER realizing that no matter how successful they MIGHT become, they CAN NEVER do enough to make up for the PAIN of the past." Click to read more reviews of this book.
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[book] Jewish American Literature: A NORTON ANTHOLOGY
Edited by Jules Chametzky (UMASS), Hilene Flanzbaum (Butler), Kathryn Hellerstein (Penn), and John Felstiner (Stanford)

Hardcover - 1100 pages (October 2, 2000). Yes, 1100 pages... 145 writers of all genres. From the early colonists to Broadway lyricists to today's great writers--a redefinition of a vital American literary tradition. This rich anthology reconsiders Jewish American literature from its seventeenth-century origins to its flourishing present. It gathers the work of 145 writers in all genres--fiction, poetry, drama, essays, journals, autobiography, song lyrics, and cartoons. Here readers will find the petitions and memoirs of the first Sephardic settlers, the Yiddish and English voices of the great era of immigration, modernist writers exploring their Americanness, and activist writers working for change. Here too is the generation of writers and poets who define postwar American literature--Arthur Miller, Tillie Olsen, Bernard Malamud, Allen Ginsberg, Cynthia Ozick, Philip Roth--and a younger generation--Art Spiegelman, Jacqueline Osherow, Melvin Jules Bukiet, and Allegra Goodman.
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[book] CONEY by Amram Ducovny
Hardcover - 320 pages (September 2000). A novel of growing up in pre-War Jewish Brooklyn. Hmm Ducovny, that's name sounds familiar. Umm, well he is the father of the X-Files actor, David Ducovny, and the author of about 10 other books, but this is his first novel. Set in Brooklyn's Coney Island neighborhood in the 1930's, we meet Harry Catzker, age 15. Harry lives with his father, Moishe, a Yiddish journalist; his Polish born mother, Velia; and grandma Bama, who is considering a return to Europe since she never learned English. Harry gets involved in the seedier side of the Coney Island midway and meets quite unusual characters and denizens of the underground economy. He also interacts in educational dialogues with Aba Stolz, a Yiddish poet who boards in his family's home, visits the Harlem jazz clubs, and comes of age in this immigrant mileiu.
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[book] THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY by Michael Chabon
Random House Hardcover - 639 pages (September 2000).
Another great book from the fingers of Michael Chabon, a favorite Jewish novelist (Wonder Boys, A Model World, Mysteries of Pittsburgh, the Nathan stories). Slightly based on lives of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. Sam Klayman has a new roommate. His cousin, Josef Kavalier, has been smuggled out of Nazi occupied Prague in the same crate that contains The Golem. These boys create a cartoon character, The Escapist. The Escapist fights for good. Now if only the comic book industry would give these two cousins a fair shake. Click to read more extensive reviews.
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[book] MEETING THE PIEMAN
By Victor Wartofsky

The story of a tormented Jewish carpenter, Simon Earber, who in desperation gives up his trade to become a grocer in the black ghetto of Washington DC. There he meets angry, sullen, young customers. As he collects on their bills he is not well liked and is a focus of resentment. He takes his wife and son to live in the ghetto with him. Reissued from 1971. It was noted to be the first American novel to dissect the tensins between blacks and Jews.




[book] GODS RAT
By Michael Bookman

In his just just published historical novel, God's Rat, author Michael Bookman takes us back to NY's East Side early in the last Century, to a time when tough and Jewish wasn't an oxymoron. One of the toughest Jews was a gangster known as Big Jack Zelig. Here's how Carl Sifakis in his acclaimed Encyclopedia of American Crime describes Zelig: "A handsome brutish killer, Big Jack's services were always available for hire to any bidder, high or low. There is no record of the gang leader ever turning down any job of violence." Yet the Yiddish newspapers of the time called Zelig the "People's Protector". Indeed he was loved by the masses. When Big Jack and the "boys" were around the Irish and Italian Jew bashers stayed out of "Jew Town". Zelig was shot dead on November of 1911 at 26 in a gambling dispute His funeral procession drew thousands of grief stricken East Siders. In God's Rat Michael Bookman vividly describes this astonishing spectacle.




[book] THE SHADOW MASTER
By Michael Bookman

Monolithic communism is in ruins. When an archeologist, Karel Zeman, turns up dead in his room in a luxury hotel--his brother Klement, an intelligence agent, embarks on an investigation that will lead him across Eastern Europe. Quickly, the death that had not seemed to be a crime becomes a hunt--first to find a beautiful woman, then to track a mass murderer. At that point, the shadows part. The Spook (the spy) meets the Spook (the supernatural) in a stunning coalition that redefines the genre of espionage fiction.






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