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Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: Spotlight on Elizabeth Nunez

This past week I had the privilege of reading Elizabeth Nunez’s latest book, a memoir titled Not for Everyday Use (Akashic Books). I obtained a digital galley with the intention of asking Elizabeth–whom I’ve been lucky to get to know through my “day job” at The City University of New York–if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for The Practicing Writer.

I finished this excellent book quickly, and the ever-gracious Elizabeth agreed to answer my questions (in fact, she has already returned her responses!). I had to tell her, though, that the newsletter interviewees are booked (so to speak), for the next several months. This interview won’t appear until the August issue, which will go out to readers at the very end of July. (In the interest of keeping things somewhat suspenseful, I won’t reveal the identities of every interviewee between now and then, but I’ll tell you that our very next issue will feature Roxane Gay, who will tell us about her soon-to-be-published novel An Untamed State.)

Meantime, I encourage you to watch this video of Elizabeth’s recent appearance at the Center for Fiction (although this latest book is nonfiction, Elizabeth is an acclaimed novelist). You’ll get to hear her read from the memoir, and listen to her conversation with Louise DeSalvo (who offers terrific questions and comments in a discussion that encompasses race, religion, writing and more). An hour well spent.

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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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Sunday Sentence

In which I participate in David Abrams’s “Sunday Sentence” project, which asks us to share the best sentence(s) we’ve read during the past week, “out of context and without commentary.”

“You never got what you wanted; you just learned to get by without it.”

Source: Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You (forthcoming novel). I’ve just read a digital galley–stay tuned for a Q&A with Celeste in The Practicing Writer when the book is released!

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From My Bookshelf: The Exiles Return, by Elisabeth de Waal

Unknown“If Elisabeth de Waal’s name sounds familiar, credit her grandson, Edmund de Waal. His acclaimed book ‘The Hare with Amber Eyes‘ (2010) chronicled the history of Elisabeth’s family, the Ephrussis, an eminent Jewish clan in Europe. As readers of the younger de Waal’s book may recall, Elisabeth (1899-1991) lived an accomplished life, but one achievement eluded her: Although she wrote five novels — two in German and three in English — not one found a publisher. Until recently.

The manuscript now published as ‘The Exiles Return‘ is set mainly in 1954-55, in the months leading up to the signing of the State Treaty, which, the novel’s brief and enigmatic prelude reminds us, ‘led to the withdrawal of the Allied Occupation forces and finally restored Austria’s independence.’ This setting may prompt some readers to view ‘The Exiles Return’ as a historical novel, but for Elisabeth, it was a fairly contemporary creation.”

Please read the rest of my review in The Washington Post.



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.

  • On Tablet, author Alison Pick describes how Christmas helped her discover and ultimately reclaim her Jewish roots.
  • Another essay for the season, from Gary Shteyngart.
  • Rabbi Jack Riemer shares a list of some of the best Jewish books he “enjoyed and learned from this year.”
  • More from Matti Friedman re: “censorship” at Hillel.
  • ICYMI: my own year in Jewish books. And my year in Jewish plays.
  • Shabbat shalom.

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