Review of Promised Lands: New Jewish American Fiction on Longing and Belonging

My latest book review, a discussion of Promised Lands: New Jewish American Fiction on Longing and Belonging (Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, $26.00), edited by Derek Rubin, is now online at As good as most of the stories in this anthology are–and they are, indeed–this was a challenging review to write. See what you think of this review, and please consider the questions that I’ve raised there about how anthologies are compiled. I’m interested in your thoughts.

December Jewish Book Carnival

As the blogger behind My Machberet, I am delighted to welcome you to the December home for the Jewish Book Carnival. Launched by Heidi Estrin and Marie Cloutier, the Carnival is a monthly event where bloggers who blog about Jewish books can meet, read, and comment on each others’ posts. The co-creators established it to build community among bloggers and blogs who feature Jewish books. The Carnival is headquartered on the Association of Jewish Libraries blog, and it runs every month on the 15th.

Without further ado, I am proud to present the December Carnival:

  • Children’s author Sylvia Rouss shares the “Hanukkah Origins of Sammy Spider.”
  • From Jewesses with Attitude, a blog from the Jewish Women’s Archive: Renee Ghert-Zand writes about The Bookseller’s Sonnets, Andi L. Rosenthal’s debut novel.
  • sends along two posts: one, “Becoming Thankful for Jewish Book Month,” which focuses on Linda R. Silver’s Best Jewish Books for Children and Teens, and another, by David Levy, advocating that we “Give Comics for Chanukah” and featuring short reviews of recently published Jewish-themed comics.
  • On her Jewish Muse blog, Linda K. Wertheimer describes the books that created her first Jewish community–and tells us about a more recent read: Naomi Ragen’s latest novel, The Tenth Song.
  • On his 12:12 blog, Jewish Journal Books Editor Jonathan Kirsch reviews Ruth Franklin’s A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction.
  • Margo Tanenbaum shares eight favorite Chanukah reads on The Fourth Musketeer.
  • The Association of Jewish Libraries recently celebrated its first-ever Library Snapshot Day, and captured the occasion on the People of the Book blog (with video!).
  • Heidi Estrin’s Book of Life blog/podcast series introduces “Shalom Sesame.”
  • On The Whole Megillah, Barbara Krasner reviews The Hanukkah Trike, written by Michelle Edwards and illustrated by Kathryn Mitter.
  • In a guest post for the Jewish Book Council blog, author Avi Steinberg (Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian) describes some Kafkaesque experiences. Also on the JBC blog: an invitation for readers to meet up on Twitter on January 12 to discuss Elizabeth Rosner’s novel, Blue Nude.
  • Ilana-Davita writes about a recent read: Mitzvah Girls: Bringing Up the Next Generation of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, by Ayala Fader.
  • Jew Wishes reviews Stronger Than Iron: The Destruction of Vilna Jewry 1941-1945: An Eyewitness Account, by Mendel Balberyszski.
  • And last, but perhaps not least: please enjoy my enthusiastic take on Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, a novel by U.K. author Natasha Solomons.

Notes from Around the Web

  • Lilith magazine presents a selection of prize-winning Jewish feminist poetry.
  • A bit late, perhaps, but still very worthwhile: Erika Meitner’s list of new Jewish poetry books for Chanukah (or, at this point, other) gift purposes.
  • David Miller writes about his first Chanukah in Patagonia…and carving a menorah.
  • Adam Kirsch, writing for Tablet, has some issues with a new anthology of writing from the Middle East.
  • In certain ways, I could really identify with the writer of this essay, “How My Love for Israel Uncovers My True Friends.”
  • I hope to have the time to listen to America Abroad Media’s interview with David Grossman sometime very soon!
  • Looking ahead: The next Jewish Book Council Twitter Book Club selection is Elizabeth Rosner’s Blue Nude. Discussion will take place on Wednesday, January 12, 12:30 p.m. (EST).
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Words of the Week: David Rothkopf, via Jeffrey Goldberg

    A must-read post from Jeffrey Goldberg, on “Fact-Checking Stephen Walt,” quotes David Rothkopf on Walt’s co-authorship of that pernicious “Israel Lobby” work:

    “…(W)hatever the pale intellectual merits of his hackneyed argument may be, he and Mearsheimer know full well that their prominence on this issue has come not because they have had a single new insight but rather because they were willing and one can only believe inclined to play to a crowd whose ‘views’ were fueled by prejudice and worse. They may not be anti-Semites themselves but they made a cynical decision to cash in on anti-Semitism by offering to dress up old hatreds in the dowdy Brooks Brothers suits of the Kennedy School and the University of Chicago. They did what the most desperate members of academia do, they signed up to be rent-a-validators, akin to expert witnesses who support the defense of felons with specious theories served up on fancy diplomas. They would argue that they were daring to speak truth to power. In reality they were giving one crowd in particular precisely what it wanted to hear.”

    Bloggers Sought to Host Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Tour

    Received via email (from two sources!) this morning:

    The Sydney Taylor Book Award committee is gearing up for its deliberations to choose the best Jewish kidlit published in the past year. Winners will be announced in January, 2011, and there will be a blog tour for medal-winning authors/illustrators in February! If you’re interested in interviewing a winner and hosting a stop on the blog tour, please let us know! We are trying to be efficient and plan ahead, even though we don’t yet know who the winners will be.

    If you’d like to participate, please email Barbara Krasner at barbarakrasner(at)att(dot)net and CC Heidi Estrin at Heidi(at)cbiboca(dot)org.

    As a reminder, here’s some background on the Sydney Taylor Book Award.