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EVEN MORE Novels and Fiction
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[book] The Wedding Jester by Steve Stern
Paperback - 224 pages (June 1999). With The Wedding Jester, Steve Stern, 51, a former Hippie, and Skidmore teacher has infused this collection with the Jewish, Yiddish, and Southern folklore he knows so well and has recreated a magical Jewish otherworld of his earlier award-winning titles. Just as Chagall painted flying cows and townfolk, Stern writes of flying rabbis. The New York Times has called Stern a prodigiously talented writer who arrives unheralded like one of the apparitions in his own stories." In one tale a bride is possessed by a long-dead Jewish comic; in another a succubus emerges from a mirror to seduce a scholar. Click to read more reviews.
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[book] Turn of the Century by Kurt Andersen
Hardcover - 659 pages. Fast becoming the best seller for 1999. In the Eighties, the hot thing to be was a BSD on Wall Street. In the late Nineties, at the turn of the Century, it is best to be involved in television and software. This biting, funny, satirical novel from Andersen, a SPY co-founder and New Yorker writer, which opens in the future world of February 2000, where buses are shaped like Absolut bottles. George Mactier, a Newsweek writer, becomes a producer for MBC's show NARCS in which actors team up with cops on drug busts. Lizzie Zimbalist, George's wife, is a software entrepreneur. They jet between the coasts and tag-team parent their three kids (Sarah, Max and LuLu). Take a mint flavored Prozac (for Kids) and read more about what happens, by clicking through to Amazon.
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[book] A God In Ruins by Leon Uris
Hardcover - 800 pages (June 1999). Leon Uris gave the Jews Exodus, Qb VII, The Haj and Mila 18. Now he offers us "A God In Ruins," the story of Quinn O'Connell, an Irish Catholic candidate for the Presidency of the United States in the year 2008. After 400 scouts were killed by a militia group, the primary campaign issue is gun control. One week prior to Election Day, O'Connell discovers that he was born to Jewish parents, but adopted by a Catholic family. He has a Jewish half-brother. So what? So what if he was born to Jewish parents? Will voters care? How will this affect the tensions between the black and Jewish communities, the neo-Nazi's. Will a Kristallnacht occur in 2008? Click to read more expanded reviews.
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[book] Kaaterskill Falls. By Allegra Goodman.
(Dial Press, September 1998, $24 retail). Prize winning book of 1998. Allegra Goodman, 31, who holds a Stanford PhD in Eighteenth Century and Renaissance Literature, delivers to us this ambitious novel (or collection of connected stories and narratives) about a Catskills community, actually a community of Orthodox Jews from New York City who summer in the Catskills. The book opens in the Summer of 1976, as most of America celebrates the Bicentennial. The primary characters are each questioning the commitment to their chosen religious lives, and whether they are restricted in this insular community. They are followers of Rav Elijah Kirshner, who is aging and must appease and conciliate his feelings toward his two sons, one of whom will succeed him. Jeremy, one of his sons, is rebellious, yet a scholarly professor in the secular world. Isaac Shulman yearns for a more distinguished and learned position in his community, and Elizabeth Shulman, mother of five daughters, whom she has given Anglo-Saxon names, but calls them by their Hebrew names, has secular ambitions. She opens a store with the Rav's approval, but this offends of his successor. An interesting read.
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[book] The Conversion : A Novel by Aron Appelfeld, Jeffrey M. Green (Translator),.
Hardcover - 240 pages (November 1998). Reviewers have said that this, his 12th novel, is the best. A love story set in Austria, it is, of course, also a allegory. Click to read more expanded reviews.
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[book] A Journey to the End of the Millennium: A Novel by A.B. Yehoshua, Nicholas De Lange (Translator)
Hardcover - 352 pages (February 1999) A brilliantly conceived novel about polygamy and one man's tragic search for validation at the end of the first millennium, by the critically acclaimed author of "Mr. Mani (1990)" and "A Late Divorce". Yehoshua is a 62 year old Moroccan born Haifa University Professor. Reading Avraham B. Yehoshua's works helps you to understand how a master writer can change your emotions through word craft. This novel is set in the year 999 C.E. and concerns Ben Attar as he travels with Abu Lufti from Morocco to that village of Paris, where he will meet their other partner, Rafael Abulafia. Three men, several religions, working together? Click to read more expanded reviews.
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[book] The Same Embrace by Michael Lowenthal
Hardcover - 304 pages Penguin. A novel about the Rosenbaum twins. Jacob and Jonathan are identical twins, tied together by family, by shared history, by identical genes. In this novel, they battle themselves and one another to become individuals. Jacob comes out and Jonathan becomes Orthodox. In the words of the NYT, "The Same Embrace is an eloquent exploration of the nature of faith, the consequences of judgment and the stubborn endurance of family ties."
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[book] Redemption by Howard Fast
288 pages, July 1999. Is Fast getting old? In his 80's and with over 40 books under his belt, offers this courtroom drama about 78 year old, righteous, Jewish, contract law professor Ike Goldman, and the woman he saves from suicide, 47 year old Catholic Elizabeth Hopper. They fall in love, read The Times on Sunday mornings at his Riverside Drive pad. He proposes, and then she is accused of murdering her evil, abusive ex-husband.
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[book] Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction by Jack Dann (Editor), Isaac Asimov (Introduction)
Softcover - 224 pages (Jewish Lights edition). The classic first collection in its genre, "Wandering Stars" reminds readers that many are still studying, still suffering, still making jokes and myths, and still trying to figure out what it means to be Jewish--even in science fiction and fantasy.
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[book] From A Sealed Room. By Rachel Kadish.
(Putnam, October 1998, $25 retail) A beautifully descriptive novel. Rachel Kadish is a 1991 graduate of Princeton and lives in Cambridge. Her works have appeared among the Pushcart Prizes and Best American Short Stories anthologies. This is a novel about three women in Israel and redemption. It takes place during the Gulf War, as a nation sleeps in protective, sealed rooms, awaiting Scud missile attacks from Iraq. Meet some of the characters: Tami, an enduring mother; Dov, her son, who serves as a soldier in the IDF; Maya, an American student at Hebrew University who is in an abusive relationship with an Israeli man; Shifra, an isolated woman living in a Hasidic neighborhood, alone in her room with her memories of pre-War Poland.
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[book] The Family Markowitz. By Allegra Goodman.
(Wahington Square Press, in paperback, October 1997, $12 retail) Harvard grad Allegra Goodman's best-selling collection of connected short stories. I was introduced to her through her stories that have appeared in The New Yorker. In this collection we meet the Markowitz family. There is Rose, a Percodan addicted, Jewish mother, her artsy son, Henry, and her academic son, Ed. There is Sara, Ed's wife, who is a writer but must suffer through the class she teaches at the local JCC. Then there is their daughter, Miriam, who freaks them out by becoming a ba'al teshuvah.
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[book] Mazel. by Rebecca Goldstein.
(Viking, October 1995, $24 retail hardcover) Mazel, or luck, is the guiding force in this hypnotic novel. What can one say? This is a fun novel, and a must read for every American Jewish woman. The story of five generations of Jewish women and the affects of the past upon the present. Characters include Phoebe, a pregnant mathematician; Chloe, her classics-oriented mother; and Sasha, her strong-willed, Bohemian grandmother who acted in the Yiddish theater. As they await the birth of Phoebe's child (will it be a daughter?), Sasha has bittersweet recollections of her shtetl childhood. These memories are the center of this glorious novel.
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[book] Elijah Visible: Stories by Thane Rosenbaum.
Hardcover (April 1996) St Martins Pr Thane Rosenbaum won a prize for Jewish writing on his first collection of stories. Not bad... A first collection from Rosenbaum, a Manhattan lawyer turned writer, draws heavily on the author's memories of growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors.
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[book] Gates of Eden by Ethan Coen
Hardcover - 240 pages (November 1998). Coen employs a variety of styles for his collection, from linear narrative to wordy soliloquies and confessional, fever-dream monologues, even mini-plays complete with stage directions. At their best, the stories are so vivid the stench of stale smoke and sweat seems to waft from the pages. In "the Boys", a father and his 2 sons takes a road trip through the Dakotas. In "A Morty Story" the narrator has his old Jewish eccentric uncle stay over with him and his non-Jewish girlfriend. The narrator becomes uncomfortable of his Jewish background in front of his girlfriend. In "I Killed Phil Shapiro" the killer "splattered the haroseth of his brains." Additional notes: Ethan Coen, one of the filmmaking Coen Brother's, famous for The Big Lebowski, Miller's Crossing, Fargo, Blood Simple, and Barton Fink, grew up Jewish in Minnesota in the Saint Louis Park suburb (St Jewish park) of Minneapolis. Also known as the City of Flowers because there was a Rosenbloom on every corner.
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[book] The Jewish Lover by Edward Topol translated by Christopher Barnes.
Hardcover (December 1998) St Martins Pr 416 pages. Soviet born Topol has been in the U.S. for twenty years and his last book, China Lane, was the best seller in Russian in 1997. This is a mixture of politics, love, and mystery, and is set in the USSR in the 1970's. Iosif Rubinshik is a famed Jewish journalist in the USSR who sees it as his mission in life to deflower young Russian virgins. Oleg Barsky is a KGB Colonel (no one is ever a KGB private or sargeant) who seeks revenge for the deflowering of his young daughter. Barsky transfers his enmity to all Jews and hopes to discredit Rubinshik and force him to emigrate. When Barsky blackmails Attorney Anna Evgenyevna to force her to prosecute Rubinshek, little does he know that Anna was deflowered herself by Rubinshek, she turns the tables on Barsky... or does she?
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[book] Spiritual Life, A Jewish Feminist Journey by Merle Feld.
Hardcover - 264 pages (April 1999). A unique memoir that interweaves poetry, narrative, meditation, and social history, A Spiritual Life explores the complex facets of a Jewish woman's spiritual coming-of-age, capturing the emotional and spiritual reality of contemporary Jews as well as religious seekers of all types. From the experiences of early childhood, to the spiritual awakening of a secular adolescent encountering Jewish tradition, to the alternately funny and searing tales of new-found independence, early married life, young motherhood, and midlife, Feld comments with remarkable honesty and clarity on the many stages of spiritual and artistic exploration and growth. Includes poems on the high holy days, prayer, and menstruation. Click to read more.
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[book] Second Hand Smoke by Thane Rosenbaum.
Hardcover (April 1999) A new hardcover from the award winning writer, Thane Rosenbaum. Just as you can be affected by second hand smoke, can you be affected by the inherited Holocaust pain and suffering of others. Of course you can. Meet Duncan Katz, child of survivors, Miami judo expert, who is a bad-ass Jew, kind of like a golem-in-training. Katz goes to Yale Law and goes to work as a Nazi hunter for the Justice Department. He is so overzealous that he loses his marriage, his job, and friends. He makes his way to Poland, where he meets his Boaz, his redeemer, who happens to be a half-brother. Note to Book Groups.... The author's name is Thane and the characters name is Duncan. Both from Macbeth. Why? Why was he named Duncan and not David by two Holocaust survivors in 1953? Can you really pass as a non-jew with the last name of Katz even if your name is Duncan? Both Duncan and David were Kings. Also note that Arthur Godfrey Blvd in Miami is mentioned, while Godfrey was one of the biggest known Jew haters of his era. Click to read more.
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[book] The Ghost of Hannah Mendes : A Novel by Naomi Ragen.
Hardcover - 384 pages (August 17, 1998) Simon & Schuster. Ragen's engrossing novel depicts one family's search for their Sephardic Jewish roots. When Catherine de Costa finds out that she is dying, she feels as though she has nothing to show for her life. Her family is a disappointment: her daughter's current husband is a Gentile, and her granddaughters, Suzanne and Francesca, show no interest in their legacy. She is then visited by a ghost. To read more, please click the bookcover or below. This is Ragen's fourth novel about Orthodox Jews. Ragen grew up in Far Rockaway, and made aliyah in 1973. In the late 80's, she wrote the novel, "Jephte's Daughter" which was partly based on the life of an ultra Orthodox woman who was in an abusive marriage. In 1992, her novel, "Sotah", was published. It is the story of an Othodox woman who is wrongly suspected of having an adulterous affair. Her third novel, Sacrifice of Tamar, Tamar is a young Orthodox woman who is raped, doesn't report it, and discovers she is pregnant. Is the father her husband or the rapist?
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[book] The One Facing Us: A Novel by Ronit Matalon, Marsha Weinstein (Translator).
$25 before discount. Hardcover-304 pages (June 1998) Metropolitan Books. A good read for anyone who has tried to create a family history by interviewing relatives, anyone who has idealized the lives of those who came before you, and anyone who has ever gone to a new city, and looked up your surname in the white pages. The book begins with teenaged Esther's arrival in the Central African country of Cameroon to live with her Uncle Sicourelle's family, and ends in Tel Aviv many years later. When Esther's parents moved from Egypt to Israel, Unclue Sicourelle moved to Douala, Cameroon. Ronit Matalon weaves a complicated saga of several generations in an Egyptian Jewish family. According to The Times, "This is a difficult novel; at times, it makes us feel as if we had interrupted an intimate family discussion of people and events an outsider can never hope to comprehend. But, Ronit Matalon, aided by a deft translation from the Hebrew by Marsha Weinstein, does a subtle job of filling in the shadows, sketching what lurks unseen just outside the frames of the photographs."
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[book] Like Never Before. By Ehud Havazelet
$23 before discount. Hardcover, 268 Pages, FS&G. Intense set of stories of three generations of a Polish-Jewish family now living in Queens, New York. The players are Rabbi Birnbaum, his son Max, Max's wife Esther, who is afflicted with cancer, amd their two children - David and Rachel. The central conflict is set forth in the first chapter, the story of Max Birnbaum and his son. Max, a Hebrew School teacher, is the son of an Orthodox rabbi in Brooklyn. One day, during Yom Kippur services, Max's son, David, breaks a synagogue window while playing ball. You can't get more sacrilegious than that. David, a bad seed, becomes an architect, marries Maura, but has affections for a younger woman. Read more about the book by clicking below. In the words of the NYT, "these stories are just too fine to dismiss."
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[book] Flamboyant. By Elizabeth Swados
Swados is the author of "The Hating Pot" and "Runaways." I am addicted to Elizabeth Swados' CD of the songs of Biblical Women, and had an epiphany at one of her concerts. So I looked forward to this new novel. Flamboyant is the energetic story of Chana Landau, an Orthodox Jewish woman living in Brooklyn who teaches at the Harvey Milk High School in Manhattan for gay teens. Flamboyant is one of her students whom she befriends in a series of encounters. It is a story of otherness and the religious views toward sexuality. Read more about the book by clicking below.
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[book] Bring Us the Old People : A Novel by Marisa Kantor Stark
$23 before 30% off. Hardcover - 208 pages 1 Ed edition (September 1998) Reading Stark's deceptively simple first novel is like listening to an oral history that was recorded at a nursing home for Jewish men and women. We hear the voice of a remarkable woman telling her own story. Now over 90 and, according to her nephew Milton (but disputed by Maime herself), no longer able to live on her own, Maime spends her time recalling the past and mourning the losses she has sustained. We learn how she grew up, survived, and made a new life in the new World.
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[book] The Rise of David Levinsky by Abraham Cahan, Jules Chametzky.
$14 before discount. Paperback - 538 pages Reprint. Penguin USA. A reprint of Cahan's (editor of the Forward) classic novel
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[book] The Fifth Son by Elie Wiesel.
$13 before discount. Paperback - 224 pages (1998). When a Holocaust survivor's son discovers that his brooding father has been haunted for years by his role in the murder of a brutal SS officer just after the war, the son also discovers that the Nazi is still alive. What begins as a quest for his father's love becomes a reenactment of the past, as the son sets out to complete his father's act of revenge. An unforgettable novel by the Nobel Prize winner and bestselling author Elie Weisel.
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[book] Barney's Version : A Novel by Mordecai Richler.
$25 before discount. Hardcover - 384 pages (1998) Knopf. Like much of his Canadian Jewish writing, Richler's novel seeks to evaluate Jewishness, Canadianhood, and the struggle for personal integrity. But the hero of the novel has a failing memory, and the task it made harder. Read more by clicking below.
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[book] The Revisionist : A Novel by Helen Schulman.
$23 before discount. Hardcover - 256 pages (September 1998) Crown. A novel about David Hershleder, a neurologist who is on the road to malpractice-ville. He still mourns for the mother he lost two decades earlier, and focuses his obsessions on a famed French Holocaust denier who renounces his prior disbelief. Hershleder hopes that by understanding how LeClerc can change his mind, he can win back the affection of his wife. Click below to read more about the Schulman novel.
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[book] The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler.
$25. Hardcover - 272 pages (May 1998). Zimler spent 3 years on this novel--one year doing the research in the USA and Portugal, and another two years writing it. The Name of the Rose meets Gershon Scholem? A moody, tightly constructed historical thriller that is both entertaining and instructive, set in a faraway time and place. It provides insight (albeit fictional) into the lives of conversos and secret Jews duing the Inquisition (set in 1506, nine years after the grace period (1492) ended and all Jews were expelled or forcibly converted).
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[book] Memory's Tailor by Lawrence Sheldon Rudner, edited by John Kessel.
$25 before discount. Hardcover - 156 pages (September 1998) Univ Pr of Mississippi. Rudner finished this novel shortly before his death in 1995. It is a moving and funny allegorical fantasy about a retired Russian Jewish tailor, Alexandr Davidowich Berman, 69, who, after finding a tiny Jewish manuuscipt sewn into an old coat, decides to travel through Gorbachev's collapsing Soviet Union to collect stories from Jews. Alexandr is joined by his Pancho, Simon Zorin, a glassblower. As the duo tilt at Soviet windmills, Berman is called upon to tailor a decomposing Lenin's trousers.
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[book] Katschen & the Book of Joseph by Yoel Hoffman, David Kriss (Translator).
$18. Hardcover - 161 pages (May 1998). Yoel Hoffman is one of Israel's top avant garde writers. Watch for his tale of "Bernhard" to be translated in Fall98. In this book of two mystical, poetic novellas, which was hailed by The New Yorker, we learn the tragic tale of a widowed Jewish tailor and his son in 1930's Berlin. And then in the second tale, we read an astounding child's-eye-view of a boy orphaned in Palestine.
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[book] What Makes Sammy Run? by Budd Schulberg.
$14 before discount. Paperback - 328 pages Reissue edition (December 1993) Vintage Books. What Makes Sammy Run was a bestseller in 1941. Now, over 57, years later, Budd Schulberg, author of "On The Waterfront", and son of the early Paramount chief B. P. Schulberg, is once again hot. This is the FICTIONAL story of a back-stabbing newspaper copy boy, Sammy Glick, who claws his way to the top in Hollywood. Read it before they sign Ben Stiller to the play the lead in the movie. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said of the book, "A grand book, utterly fearless and with a great deal of beauty side by side with the most bitter satire."
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[book] An Impossible Life by David Black.
$19 before discount. (Moyer Bell, 1998). A semi-autobiographical novel filled with fabulous stories and bubbe meises about the author's grandfather, Moses Polishook, who moved to New York City's Lower East Side from Plissa, Lithuania, and transformed himself into a top Jewish gangster, known as the Pasha of Allen Street. Filled with humorous and bittersweet stories of love, pogroms, crime, rivalries, bootlegging, seduction, and even faith (when God visits for a cup of tea).
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[book] Tar Beach (New American Fiction Series, No. 23) by Richard Elman
Paperback (November 1991). Elman's 19th novel. The setting is the tar beach, or tar rooftop, atop a Brooklyn synagogue, where neighbors meet and talk a pidgin mixture of fake-Swahili, Ugandan, Brooklyn, English, and Yiddish. More sex than Joyce could shake a Dublin-stick at.
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