I’ve been reading some wonderful new books lately. Although I may not have the opportunity to write full reviews of all of them, I wanted to make sure I brought at least three of this spring’s releases to your attention. All three can described as “Jewish books”–and they’re all books of fiction–but I think that they also demonstrate what I’m always trying to point out: “Jewish literature” is, in fact, remarkably diverse.
First up: Ayelet Tsabari’s The Best Place on Earth. Tsabari is an Israeli-born writer of Yemeni descent who currently lives in Canada. Her new book of short stories hasn’t yet been published in the United States, but once I became familiar with her work, I simply had to splurge and order my copy via Amazon.ca. I’m so glad that I did. These finely crafted stories feature the voices and experiences of Mizrahi Jews–Jews from the Middle East/North Africa–a group that I haven’t often seen depicted in fiction (at least, not in English-language or translated fiction).
Next: Minnesota-based Rebecca Kanner‘s Sinners and the Sea. If you liked the way that Anita Diamant brought the biblical Jacob’s daughter Dinah to life in The Red Tent, you’ll surely admire Kanner’s novel as well. Sinners and the Sea depicts the story of Noah and the famous Ark from the perspective of Noah’s wife (who doesn’t even get a name in the Bible). Creative and compelling. I consider myself lucky to have been offered a review copy.
Finally: Merrill Joan Gerber’s The Hysterectomy Waltz, which traces–with sly wit and humor–the diagnosis, surgery, and recovery of a Brooklyn-born Jewish woman. I requested a review copy from the publisher, Dzanc Books, after reading an excerpt online in The Literarian. I suggest that you read the excerpt, too, and if it appeals, be sure to put the novel on your list (it will be out in May). Although Gerber’s work is new to me, she has published many books (now available in digital formats through Dzanc’s rEprint series), and is a past recipient of Hadassah‘s prestigious Ribalow Prize for outstanding Jewish-themed fiction.
What have you read lately that you’d recommend?
The Cultural Arts Department of the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre of Toronto announces a Call for Submissions for the 2013 Canadian Jewish Playwriting Competition (CJPC).
Since its inception in 1989 the CJPC has attracted 200+ plays from seven provinces, the US and Israel.
The Miles Nadal JCC seeks to establish active relationships within the professional artistic community to support emerging Canadian artists and creation, to build bridges of understanding across cultures through the arts and to assume a vital role in our country’s cultural community.
The 2012 winner was Shiksa, by Winnipeg’s Cairn Moore. Shiksa was presented as a Between Stages Reading in February 2013 at the Chutzpah! Festival in Vancouver . It was directed by Katrina Dunn (Touchstone Theatre)
Four previous contest winners have been published or have been commercially produced: Einstein’s Gift by Vern Thiessen, Sara’s Cave by Don Molnar, Yahrzeit by Alex Poch Goldin and Haunted by Daniel Karasik.
The winner receives a professionally acted and directed public workshop in a Miles Nadal JCC Between Stages Play Reading. The Miles Nadal JCC will publicize the workshop with a national press release sent to major print and web media publications, professional theatre organizations and Canadian Jewish arts, education and community organizations.
Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish news, primarily of the literary variety, from around the Web.
Shabbat shalom, and Chag Shavuot Sameach.