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.

9 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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