12 Jewish Books on My Radar for Fall 2019

Something that I quickly came to love about French culture was its emphasis on the literary rentrée, the post-summer “return” of focus on an outpouring of newly published books. In that spirit, this post highlights a number of Jewish books that are already on my radar for the fall season. Brief notes on each after the jump.

Covers of the 12 books decribed here.
  • The Many Names for Mother: Poems by Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach. Although we haven’t yet met face-to-face, Julia and I have been acquainted online for some time. Her poetry collection is being published as the winner of the 2018 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize (a competition that, ahem, I also entered). September.
  • We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel by Daniel Gordis. I admire Gordis’s knowledge—and his civil engagement with people who espouse differing views (for example: I was a fan of his 2017 podcast series, “Fault Lines,” with Peter Beinart). And what a timely title this is. September.
  • How to Fight Anti-Semitism by Bari Weiss. Another too-timely title. Bari is someone whom I have met (briefly!) in person, and I’ll be in the audience for at least one of her book events this fall (already have a ticket!). September.
  • A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas by Maxim D. Shrayer. Yes, Maxim is also someone whom I have met. And he sent me a complimentary advance copy of this book, which I’ve already read and written about, albeit briefly. September.
  • It’s a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes, and Other Jewish Stories edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman, with a foreword by Mayim Bialik. I was eager to read this anthology of short stories aimed for YA readers as soon as I discovered via my pal Katherine Locke that it was in the works, and I quickly snagged a copy when given the opportunity at a “galley grab.” I’m beyond the target-audience age for this book, and I can’t say that I didn’t feel my age at times when reading it—but I am oh-so-grateful that it is being published. September.
  • The Newish Jewish Encyclopedia: From Abraham to Zabar’s and Everything in Between by Stephanie Butnick, Liel Liebovitz, and Mark Oppenheimer. The co-authors are also co-hosts of one of the first podcasts that I became addicted to: Tablet magazine’s “Unorthodox.” I’d read their grocery lists. October.
  • The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come by Sue Macy and illustrated by Stacy Innerst. I was introduced to Sue Macy and learned about this new book of hers when I attended a recent Scribblers on the Roof reading event here in New York. Since I remain hopeful that one day I may begin writing Jewish books for children, and since I’m a fan of the Yiddish Book Center, which has a lot to do with this particular story, I’ve put this title on my tbr list. October.
  • And the Bride Closed the Door by Ronit Matalon, translated by Jessica Cohen. As I continue to self-educate in Israeli literature, I know that I need to learn more about the work of Matalon, who died in 2017 at the age of 58. I’m grateful for the complimentary advance copy that I’ve received. October.
  • Cosella Wayne: Or, Will and Destiny by Cora Wilburn, edited and introduced by Jonathan D. Sarna. You’re not familiar with the name “Cora Wilburn”? Neither was I—until I attended an extraordinary event held at Columbia University last spring, where I learned about Wilburn (1824-1906) and this novel, the first to be written and published in English by an American Jewish woman. October.
  • Birthright: Poems by Erika Dreifus. Okay, this author’s name I do know (rather well!). Please forgive the self-promotion, but how can I list fall Jewish books that are on my radar and omit this one? November.
  • Diary of a Lonely Girl, or The Battle Against Free Love by Miriam Karpilove, translated by Jessica Kirzane. Here’s another example of an author being brought to 21st-century readers long after her death. I learned about Yiddish writer Karpilove (1888-1956) through Jessica Kirzane at last winter’s Association for Jewish Studies conference. November.
  • Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century by Sarah Abrevaya Stein. And here’s another example of a book I discovered through absorbing the author telling me about it at a conference. Fascinating. November.

So that’s my list. Which new Jewish books are you looking forward to this fall?

Covers of 12 books decribed here.

10 thoughts on “12 Jewish Books on My Radar for Fall 2019

  1. Sue Macy says:

    Thanks, Erika. It was great to meet you. (Isn’t Rachel’s book wonderful?) Can’t wait till you see The Book Rescuer.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thanks for the comment, Sue–and yes, her book is great!

  2. Rachel says:

    Great list, Erika – thank you! I just ordered several of these for my synagogue library.
    And, MAZEL TOV, on your new book!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thank you so much, Rachel!

  3. Sheryl Stahl says:

    Thanks Erika. I also came away from the AJL conference with lists of books to order – but apparently I missed some! Yosher koach on your upcoming book.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      There are always more books to order! And thank you!

  4. Chava Pinchuck says:

    Great list, Erika. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      So glad that you like it!

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