Reviews & Press
Quiet Americans was published on January 19, 2011. On this page, you will find reviews/press coverage (the most recent coverage appears first).
Quiet Americans is a Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for 2012: “This little book of short stories is a gem that anyone can read and enjoy. Its straightforward writing and understandable stories about German Jews and their descendants bring us into the everyday lives of Jewish Americans. Some stories are interrelated, but they stand alone in their own right.”
Quiet Americans is a Jewish Journal “Notable Book” of 2011: “History, as James Joyce once wrote, is a nightmare from which we struggle to awaken. But literary journalist Erika Dreifus is courageous enough to confront the terrors from deep within that nightmare in her debut work of fiction, ‘Quiet Americans’ (Last Light Studio: $13.95), a deeply affecting collection of short stories that contemplate how the long shadow of the Holocaust falls across the lives of men and women who come alive in her work.”
“Dreifus writes with incredible emotional nuance and empathy,” says Shelf Unbound in explaining why Quiet Americans is a Top 10 Book of 2011.
“Very quietly written, sensitive and moving,” is how Ellen Rocco, North Country Public Radio station manager and co-host Readers & Writers, describes Quiet Americans in her Winter Reading List recommendation.
“This debut collection of short stories is the first book I started and finished in 2011 and even back in January, I knew it stood a good chance of making my year-end ‘best’ list,” writes The Quivering Pen’s David Abrams, in situating Quiet Americans within his “Best Books of 2011” list.
Bookseller Elli Meeropol (Odyssey Bookshop) explains why Quiet Americans is her “staff favorite” for 2011: “…because these seven stories are bighearted, understated, and full of surprises; they are about generosity and forgiveness as well as atrocity and survival.”
“Dreifus’s stories are both personal and illuminating….The issues and themes will resonate particularly with readers of Jewish ancestry who may recognize bits of their own families in the stories, but can well be appreciated by any reader who likes fiction that considers history, heritage and identity,” says the BooksPersonally blog, which also published this Q&A with Erika.
“This book doesn’t just feel authentic, it feels alive. A mix of beautiful writing, important subject matter and characters to care about beyond the stories…” according to The Short Review‘s Sarah Salway. (See an interview with Erika on The Short Review site, too.)
Erika and Quiet Americans are featured on The Story Prize blog.
“Shelf Unbound talks with Erika Dreifus about her new book of short stories, Quiet Americans.” (Shelf Unbound; includes book excerpt).
“In conversation with Anne Stameshkin, debut author Erika Dreifus shares true stories that inspired her collection, Quiet Americans; wonders when it’s kosher for authors to write characters from backgrounds they don’t share; explores how reviewing books makes us better fiction writers; and recommends favorite novels and collections by 21st-century Jewish authors.” (Fiction Writers Review).
“Dreifus’s clear, direct style and her subject matter bring to mind the stories of Jhumpa Lahiri….Dreifus does an excellent job of taking the much-written-about subject of the Holocaust and presenting stories that add new complexities to the topic,” writes Rebecca Henderson for Englewood Review of Books.
“Many of the deceptively subdued stories in Dreifus’ first book pack an amazing wallop….Dreifus is definitely a writer to watch,” writes Rabbi Rachel Esserman for The Reporter.
For Short Story Month (May 2011), Dan Wickett spotlights the title story of Quiet Americans, “The Quiet American, Or How to Be A Good Guest”—and its use of second-person narration—for the Emerging Writers Network.
Quiet Americans is a Jewish Book Council Twitter Book Club pick! Read the transcript of the lively online discussion that took place in April 2011.
Erika is a contributing editor for The Writer magazine, and on The Writer‘s staff blog, one of her colleagues shares some impressions about the book.
“In this engaging debut collection, the Holocaust is…omnipresent. Though often acknowledged and out of sight, it deeply informs Erika Dreifus’s deceptively calm short stories,” says Jewish Book World‘s Judith Felsenfeld, in the JBW‘s Spring 5771/2011 issue.
Tablet‘s Josh Lambert features Quiet Americans “On the Bookshelf.”
“Erika Dreifus’s new story collection, ‘Quiet Americans,’ showcases the way the big Jewish happenings of the 20th century impacted the personal and quotidian,” writes Elissa Strauss for her books column on The Forward‘s Sisterhood blog.
For “Fictionaut Five: Erika Dreifus,” interviewer Meg Pokrass asks about mentoring and more.
Quiet Americans is the Fiction Writers Review Book of the Week! (February 1-8, 2011)
Midwest Book Review calls Quiet Americans “an intriguing and insightful read.”
“I’ve got to tell you about this book,” says reviewer Ellen Meeropol. (And people are listening: Author Randy Susan Meyers cites this review in explaining why Quiet Americans is a book she “can’t wait to dig into.”)
“Anyone with an interest in the Holocaust and how it led immigrants to this country needs to read this book. Anyone who simply wants to enjoy engaging, relevant, and thoughtful fiction by a subtle practitioner of the craft needs to read it even more,”writes John Vanderslice, “The Quiet Beauty of Quiet Americans,” Creating Van Gogh.
“Patti Kenner Hosts Reception for Author Erika Dreifus’s ‘Quiet Americans: Stories’,” The Forward (second story on the page).
“[Dreifus is] a classic storyteller and there’s a clear, direct line from Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bernard Malamud to her 21st-century keyboard,” according to David Abrams, The Quivering Pen.
“So Dreifus does not confine herself to the kind of character studies and slice-of-life sketches that are the stock-in-trade of so many short-story writers. Rather, she cares deeply about history — her own family history and the larger history that we all inhabit — and that’s what makes her stories both engaging and consequential,” writes The Jewish Journal’s Jonathan Kirsch
Ever wonder how a book gets its cover? Read this “Book Design Case Study: Short Stories by Erika Dreifus” on TheBookDesigner.com
Quiet Americans is “Recommended Reading,” in the Jewish Book Council’s Weekly E-Newsletter
“Dreifus has an exquisite sensibility for the absurd, for the paradoxes and accidents of history,” writes reviewer Anne Whitehouse for Gently Read Literature.
Please see also reader reviews on Amazon.com, BN.com, and Goodreads.