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From My Bookshelf: Molly Antopol’s “The UnAmericans” (and an Interview with the Author)

UnAmericansEarlier this year, I published an article listing five “Jewish books” scheduled for publication in 2014 that I was already especially eager to read. Molly Antopol‘s  The UnAmericans was one of those titles. As I wrote at the time: “I’m not the only one with high expectations for this debut collection of short stories. Anointed by the National Book Foundation as one of its ’5 Under 35′ honorees, Antopol and her book (which W.W. Norton will release in February) have received plenty of pre-publication buzz. “My stories move from McCarthy-era Los Angeles to modern-day Jerusalem to communist Prague,” Antopol has said in an interview, adding that many of the stories were inspired by her family history.

Well, I purchased a copy for my Kindle and began reading. And I was just as impressed as I expected to be. Molly and I connected online, and I asked her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for My Machberet. Continue reading ›

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Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Superb review by Ron Radosh of a new book by John Judis, Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict. (You’ll recall my enthusiasm for the book that Ron Radosh co-authored with Allis Radosh covering some similar territory.)
  • This week also brought an excellent piece by another author I admire: Lucette Lagnado’s “Anti-Israel Jews & the Vassar Blues.” (And to refresh your memory, here’s my take on Lagnado’s The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit.)
  • Learn more about Fig Tree Books, a new publisher for fiction on American Jewish experience, in this Q&A with senior editor Michelle Caplan.
  • Beth Kissileff writes about “‘Ex-Frum’ vs. ‘Datlash’: Two Very Different Literary Genres.”
  • “Sotto Voce” is “a dream play in which a passionate, Jewish-Cuban young man (Saquiel) sets out to recover memories of the S.S. St. Louis which, in 1939, left Nazi Germany for Cuba filled with Jewish refugees but was turned back by Cuba, the U.S. and Canada.” And it’s in New York until March 9. (h/t @BarbaraKrasner)
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    My Year In Jewish Books

    StarFor the past two years, I’ve found it useful (and kind of fun) to look back on “my year in Jewish books.” So, borrowing some of the same introductory wording, I’m going to attempt to do something similar for 2013, even if Hanukkah came so early this year that this 2013 iteration lacks the same usefulness a gift-inspiration guide.

    Reviewing my reading for 2013 (thank you, Goodreads!), I can see that I do not and would not ever limit my reading to “Jewish books” exclusively. (By the way, in case you haven’t heard me say this before, I define “Jewish books” as books with substantive Jewish content. In my view, non-Jewish authors can write “Jewish books.” And Jewish authors can write books that don’t strike me as particularly Jewish.)

    But this year, as usual, I did read quite a few books that fall within the “Jewish book” category. And, as an advocate for Jewish literature, I’m proud of that.

    Below, you will find these books presented in the order in which I read them. Please note that, where appropriate, I have included links to reviews, essays, and newsy items I have written; interviews I have conducted; and the odd blog post. I have also disclosed how I obtained each book: P (purchase), R (complimentary review copy/complimentary seminar copy), L (library). Continue reading ›

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    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • The latest New Yorker fiction podcast features Amos Oz’s story “The King of Norway,” which became the opening story in Oz’s Between Friends. Jonathan Safran Foer reads the story and discusses it with New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman.
  • Great news from Lee Mandel about his latest project, a biography of the first Jewish chaplain ever assigned to the United States Marine Corps, Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn: “Tentatively titled ‘Unlikely Warrior’ and subtitled ‘A Pacifist Rabbi’s Journey from the Pulpit to the Sands of Iwo Jima,’ the book has been accepted for publication by Pelican Publishers and I signed the contracts last week. It will likely be out by this coming fall.” Mazal tov!
  • More good news: This week brought us a new issue of JewishFiction.Net, including works “originally written in Polish, French, Hebrew, and English, and set in China, Germany, Scotland, Poland, ancient Israel, modern Israel, the United States, and on an emigrants’ boat bound for the United States.”
  • Looking forward to reading Gary Shteyngart’s memoir Little Failure–especially after reading Harvey Freedenberg’s review.
  • Tablet is hiring two paid, part-time spring editorial interns. If you have experience in journalism and are familiar with the landscape of American Jewish life, we’d love to hear from you.” Apply by December 12 for these New York-based positions.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen


    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish-interest links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Advice on writing for Jewish publications (and getting paid for what you write!) from the talented and prolific Rebecca Klempner.
  • In The New York Times Book Review: “Each week in Bookends, two writers take on pressing and provocative questions about the world of books. This week, Adam Kirsch and Rivka Galchen on why Hannah Arendt’s ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ remains contentious fifty years after it was first published.”
  • This just added to my tbr list: From Kristallnacht to Watergate: Memoirs of a Newspaperman, by Harry Rosenfeld.
  • J., the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, has a rare opening for a full-time staff reporter working from our office in San Francisco’s Financial District.”
  • The Winter 2014 issue of Jewish Review of Books is online. Much of the content is for subscribers only, but you’ll find a few pieces available to all.
  • Shabbat shalom and best wishes for a joyous Hanukkah!

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