Notes from Around the Web

  • Adam Kirsch reviews poet Rachel Wetzsteon’s posthumous book, Silver Roses.
  • The Boston Bibliophile reviews Howard Jacobson’s prize-winning novel, The Finkler Question.
  • The Jewish Week reminds me that I have got to get to the Hannah Senesh exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage sooner rather than later.
  • One take on highlights in Jewish books for 2010, courtesy of Jewish Ideas Daily.
  • Uri Friedman examines the dilemma observant Jews face concerning reading on the Sabbath in a digital age.
  • My recent review of a new anthology of Jewish-American fiction has prompted some kind comments, one on the Jewish Journal’s website, and some I’ve received privately. Which I’ve found reassuring, because I suspected that not everyone would like what I had to say.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    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

    Shabbat shalom!

    Recommended Reading: Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, by Natasha Solomons

    Natasha Solomons
    Reagan Arthur Books, 2010. 368 pp. $23.99
    ISBN: 978-0-316-07758-3
    Review by Erika Dreifus

    By now, we are familiar with literature penned by “2G”-ers, children of the second generation, whose Jewish parents survived Nazi persecution. With time’s passage, it was inevitable that we’d begin to see writings from the next generation: the grandchildren.

    British writer Natasha Solomons is one such grandchild. The “About the Author” section at this debut novel’s end reveals that Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English is based “on her own grandparents’ experience.” The novel focuses on Jack (Jakob) Rosenblum, who emigrates from Germany with his wife, Sadie, and their baby daughter in the summer of 1937. Upon arrival, Jack receives a “dusky blue pamphlet entitled While you are in England: Helpful Information and Friendly Guidance for every Refugee.” If Jack cherishes a Bible, this pamphlet is it: “He obeyed the list with more fervour than the most ardent Bar Mitzvah boy did the laws of Kashrut….” Over time, he expands and adds to the list based on his own observations.

    Sadie Rosenblum does not share her husband’s enthusiasm for throwing off their past (or for his “verdammt list”). She is haunted by the family left behind—and lost—in Germany. This domestic conflict underlies the novel. But the challenge that actively propels the plot is Jack’s quest to build a golf course in Dorset, which results from his being denied golf-club membership—the final list item, “the quintessential characteristic of the true English gentleman.”

    This is a gorgeous book, with setting, scenes, and dialogue all artfully managed (an aside: the cover art is equally lovely, although I can’t help wishing that this American edition had preserved the British title, Mr. Rosenblum’s List: Or Friendly Guidance for the Aspiring Englishman). It is no surprise to discover that Solomons is a screenwriter. Let us hope that she will soon script this story for film.

    (This review was published in Jewish Book World, Winter 5771/2010.)

    Notes from Around the Web

  • While I was away, Briton Howard Jacobson won the Man Booker Prize for his novel, The Finkler Question. I almost missed this New York Times profile of Jacobson–thanks to my friend B.J. Epstein for making sure that I caught it!
  • Another item from across the pond: a lovely post about Allegra Goodman’s latest novel, The Cookbook Collector.
  • Dara Horn reviews Cynthia Ozick’s new novel, Foreign Bodies.
  • The Boston Bibliophile reviews Joan Leegant’s novel, Wherever You Go.
  • Liel Leibovitz introduces readers to Dolly City, “the influential novel by Israeli author Orly Castel-Bloom…released this month in a superb English translation by Dalya Bilu….”
  • Most reviews of David Grossman’s new novel have been glowing. Daphne Merkin’s take is different.
  • The Hebrew literature department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is “in genuine crisis.”
  • On the Scribblers on the Roof website: three poems by Michael Jackman.
  • As mentioned on my other blog yesterday, my short-story collection, Quiet Americans, has just received its first review (and it’s a positive one!).
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Notes from Around the Web

  • Howard Jacobson’s latest novel, The Finkler Question, was already on my tbr list. Adam Kirsch’s review only solidified my interest.
  • On a lighter note, if you’re starting to look for Chanukah gifts for the little ones, you may want to check out this list of new titles.
  • I am so excited for the next Jewish Book Council Twitter Book Club! The chosen book is Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge; the author will participate; and the event will take place online on Tuesday, October 26.
  • Mazel Tov to author Max Apple on winning a Pew Fellowship (you may recall my appreciation for his collection, The Jew of Home Depot and Other Stories).
  • More about David Grossman and his newly translated novel, this time from The Jewish Week.
  • Now up on The Jewish Reader: Philip Roth’s Nemesis.
  • This will be my final post for ten days or so. I’m heading to Israel tomorrow night! I don’t expect to be online much (if at all) while I’m there, but I do anticipate returning with lots of discoveries to share. Shabbat shalom, and see you when I’m back!