Friday Find: "Woman of Letters: Irene Nemirovsky and Suite Francaise"

If you’ve seen the latest (November) issue of The Writer magazine, you may have caught my short “Take Note” item about a new exhibition at Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Titled “Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française,” the exhibition runs into March 2009 and is accompanied by an impressive Web site.

I haven’t yet made it to the Museum to see the exhibition, but this week Edward Rothstein reviewed it for the New York Times. I think his review is essential reading for anyone interested in Némirovsky, Suite Française, and/or the exhibition itself. Rothstein does a particularly good job summarizing the ambiguities and dilemmas that too many reviews of the U.S. translation failed to acknowledge. (For my own take on the book, please click here.)

To its credit, the Museum is offering a number of complementary programs to help elucidate these points. One will take place this Sunday (October 26), and it features eminent historians Robert O. Paxton and Michael Marrus, who will offer context on “Jews in Vichy France.” (Aunt Erika has a competing and admittedly more cheerful commitment pre-celebrating Halloween with a certain box of French fries [five-year-old niece] and cheeseburger [two-year-old nephew] that will preclude attendance.) Another event is planned for December 8, when a panel of literary critics and scholars (including one with whom I had the pleasure of studying as a graduate student) will take on the dicey subject of “Irène Némirovsky and the Jewish Question.”

Whatever your plans, I wish you all a bon week-end!