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Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish literary news from around the Web.

  • First up this week: The Jewish Book Council has announced the schedule and opened registration for the next Jewish Children’s Book & Illustrators Conference, taking place in NYC on November 18.
  • Next: I’m not sure how I missed my friend Andrew Furman’s review of Shalom Auslander’s Hope: A Tragedy, but, as the saying goes, better late than never. (The review’s basic message is summarized by the subtitle: “Bad things happen when Jews move to the country, in fiction, anyway.”)
  • Shoshanna Olidort offers a thoughtful take for the Los Angeles Review of Books on Shani Boianjiu’s The People of Forever Are Not Afraid.
  • My own latest published review looks at Jeffrey Lewis’s Berlin Cantata.
  • And in case you missed it, over on my other blog, I’ve shared excerpts from a (rejected) panel proposal titled “From Generation to Generation: 2G and 3G Approaches to Writing About the Holocaust.”
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    “We Are Still Here,” A Documentary Film by Evan Kleinman


    It’s no secret that I have a special interest in how members of the so-called “third generation” have responded to their family Holocaust histories. And that interest motivated me to attend an event here in New York City last week: a screening of Evan Kleinman’s documentary, “We Are Still Here.” Held at the Museum of Tolerance (which I was visiting for the first time), the screening was co-sponsored by the Museum and The Blue Card Fund‘s Young Leadership Division.

    The film introduces us to Evan’s family, including his Polish-born paternal grandparents. It documents a journey to Poland undertaken by Evan, his parents, and his sister. The audience at our screening was especially privileged to have all of these Kleinmans (and others!) in attendance last week.

    I was reminded, yet again, that every time you may think you’ve heard all of the “Holocaust stories” there are to tell, you’re proven wrong. And there’s something truly remarkable when it’s those who “are still here” who do the storytelling.

    The next screening of “We Are Still Here” will take place in Boston on August 23rd. If you have the opportunity to attend, seize it.

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    From My Bookshelf: Fiction by Etgar Keret

    Confession: I frequently read, admire, and link to Israeli author Etgar Keret’s nonfiction/essays (particularly his columns for Tablet), but I haven’t always been as comfortable with Keret’s fiction. I read The Nimrod Flipout when its U.S. publisher sent me a review copy of the English translation several years back (2006), and although I understood what the fuss was about–Keret is one prodigiously talented, not to mention prolific writer–my own reading tastes just don’t hunger for the sheer strangeness–call it experimentalism, fabulism, magical realism, whatever–that seemed to characterize the collection.

    Moreover, back then–around the time of the Second Lebanon War–my nascent interest in attempting to understand contemporary Israel through its literature was intensifying. There was so much about Israel that I, a Diaspora Jew, needed to learn (this remains all too true six years later). Keret’s fables and flash fictions didn’t seem to engage with the seriousness of what the Israelis call hamatzav– “the situation,” namely, the pervasive conflict that suffuses life in their country. It occurred to me only hazily (if at all) that this was a selfish indulgence of my Diaspora self; living within “the situation,” Keret could certainly be excused from spending still more time with it in his fiction.

    But last week, a review-essay on The Millions caught my eye. Titled “The Maturation of Etgar Keret” and written by Bezalel Stern, it captivated me. And it sent me hurrying to add two new volumes to my bookshelf: Suddenly, A Knock on the Door (Keret’s latest book to be released in English, with translations by Nathan Englander, Miriam Shlesinger, and Sondra Silverston) and Four Stories, a slim collection I’ll address in greater detail shortly. Continue reading ›

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    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

  • It’s always a good week when the quarterly Jewish Book World arrives in the mail. I’ll signal to you the essays from Sami Rohr Prize winner Gal Beckerman, Rohr Choice Award winner Abigail Green, and Rohr finalist Ruth Franklin. (You can download a digital copy here.)
  • Next up: How about an anthology featuring work by women writers from the Middle East? Great idea! Just leave out the Israelis, please. Or else. (Can you imagine the response if it had been an Israeli author who campaigned for the exclusion of Palestinians?)
  • Benjamin Ivry writes about Swedish-Jewish novelist Stephan Mendel-Enk.
  • Job alert: “The Yiddish Book Center seeks a Program Manager to join a dynamic cultural organization and to join its education team. The program manager will oversee an exciting new national education program designed and led by the Book Center. The program targets Jews in their 20s and will offer week-long sessions exploring diverse aspects of modern Jewish culture and creativity.”
  • “As the publishing world waits with baited breath for the opening of Book Expo America this weekend, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is doing its part by bringing together authors from the Museum family to talk books with visitors. Six survivors and one survivor/US Army vet who have written books – or whose story is told in a book – will sit at tables in the lobby and talk about their books and their experiences during the war.” If you’ll be in NYC this Sunday, consider stopping by for this free event.
  • Shabbat shalom!

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    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

  • The new issue of Moment magazine features Jewish fiction throughout. See especially the symposium, “Is There Such a Thing as Jewish Fiction?” (with a preface from the magazine’s new Fiction Editor, Alan Cheuse); the winning entries in the Publish-a-Kid Contest; and, in this (atypical) free digital copy of the entire issue, Racelle Rosett’s short story, “Shidach.”
  • Another short story well worth your time: Adam Berlin’s “Aryan Jew.”
  • And speaking of short stories: Here’s a chance to win a free copy of Edith Pearlman’s Binocular Vision (or a copy of my collection, Quiet Americans).
  • Adam Kirsch has reviewed Laurent Binet’s HHhH (trans. Sam Taylor).
  • My latest micro-essay, which takes place within the Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine (CDJC) in Paris, appears in the current issue of Hippocampus Magazine.
  • If you’re in Israel, you’ll want to take note of the extraordinary program and presenters for “Tsuris and Other Literary Pleasures,” a free creative-writing conference that begins on Sunday.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

  • This week brought us the April Jewish Book Carnival, an assortment of book-focused blog links from a multiple contributors. Many thanks to April’s host, Amy Meltzer and her terrific Homeshuling blog.
  • An extensive (and salty) interview with U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine, complemented by several poems, on Tablet.
  • My friend B.J. Epstein is a scholar of children’s literature (among her other areas of expertise). This week, she shared some thoughts on “No Happy Endings: Holocaust Memorial Day and Children.”
  • In case you missed the post earlier this week, author Ellen Cassedy anticipated Yom HaShoah with reflections on Eva Hoffman’s inspirational After Such Knowledge.
  • Also on the Holocaust theme: my enthusiastic review of Laurent Binet’s HHhH (translated by Sam Taylor).
  • And an item from my Practicing Writing blog, about Yom HaShoah and my short story collection, Quiet Americans.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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