My Letter to the Editors of the Shelf Awareness Newsletter

Excerpt from yesterday's Shelf Awareness Pro newsletter, as referenced in the accompanying blog post.[Update, 8:00 AM, July 12: Shelf Awareness has included a clarification in today’s newsletter and added one to the archived version of the original interview. I’m grateful.]

As noted below, I’m an avid reader of the Shelf Awareness newsletters. I was especially intrigued as I began reading this Q&A in the “Pro” issue that I received yesterday morning. (The “Pro” newsletter “provides booksellers and librarians the information they need to sell and lend books. It appears every business day and is read by people throughout the book industry.”) And the featured novel still intrigues me—I’ve placed it on my tbr list, especially as I prepare to teach a course this fall on 21st-Jewish literature (the course will feature a unit on “Newer Immigrant Voices,” including voices that originate in the former Soviet Union).

But I was troubled by something in the author’s very first published response to a Shelf Awareness question. Below is the text the letter (well, the email) that I sent to Shelf Awareness right away. That was 24 hours ago.

I don’t yet see any corrections or clarifications online. Nothing was mentioned in today’s newsletter. But I said what I needed to say. And I’m sharing it. (more…)

Words of the Week

“Let’s parse that last sentence—’I know the star itself is deeply meaningful to Jews no matter where they stand on Israel’s attacks on Palestinians.’ John, I don’t deny the Israeli occupation is wrong in many ways. I’m not alone in my thinking, which should tell you that my fellow Jews are not monolithic, and neither are the Palestinians. But it must be said that Israeli citizens have died in Palestinian suicide bombings on buses, in malls and cafes just because they were Jews. There are frequent rocket attacks out of Gaza. Don’t misunderstand me; I very much support a two-state solution. But let’s acknowledge that at this moment the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a highly complicated situation, and we’re out of our depth.”

Source: Judy Bolton-Fasman, “An Open Letter to John Cusack” (

Words of the Week

One of my guiding principles in life is to catch as many of Yossi Klein Halevi’s books, articles, and presentations as possible. (A secondary principle: to do what I can to get others to do the same.)

Here’s a new presentation, delivered yesterday in Washington at the Anti-Defamation League’s National Leadership Summit. (more…)