Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference

This message arrived in my e-mailbox this morning.

Some of you may be interested in the Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference on November 23 at the 92nd Street Y in New York. We invite everyone to attend and ask that you pass on this announcement to others you think might be interested.


Anna Olswanger, Conference Coordinator

Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference
Sunday, November 23, 2008, 9 AM to 5 PM
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY
$95 before November 1, $110 after November 1
Fee includes kosher breakfast and lunch

The 92nd Street Y Buttenwieser Library and the Jewish Book Council are cosponsoring the Tenth Annual Jewish Children’s Book Writers’Conference at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan on Sunday, November 23, 2008, from 9:00 am to 5:00 p.m.

Featured speakers are associate agent Michelle Andelman of Andrea Brown Literary Agency, publisher David E. Behrman of Behrman House, executive editor Michelle Frey of Alfred A. Knopf and Crown Books for Young Readers, editor Larry Rosler of Boyds Mills Press, director Joni Sussman of Kar-Ben Publishing, and illustrator’s agent Melissa Turk of Melissa Turk & The Artist Network.

Award-winning author Johanna Hurwitz will give opening remarks, and the day will include sessions on publishing and writing in Israel, the Sydney Taylor Book Award and Manuscript Competitions, and individual consultations with editors and agents from past conferences.

The registration form is available for download at www.92y.org/content/pdf/jewishchildrensbookwriters.pdf. Call 212-415 5544 or e-mail [email protected] for additional information or to request the form by mail. The final registration deadline is November 17.

If you write or illustrate children’s books for the Jewish market, this conference is for you!

Sharing "Un Secret"

Last weekend I saw an extraordinary film: A Secret (“Un Secret“), based on the autobiographical French novel by Philippe Grimbert.

The New York Times review got it right:

To describe “A Secret” as a Holocaust movie would be perfectly accurate but also somewhat misleading. Its chronology is complex and elusive. It shifts from the immediate postwar years into the 1980s…and then back into the anxiety and panic of impending and actual war. In those days Maxime spelled his last name Grinberg, he was married to a woman named Hannah (Ludivine Sagnier) and the two of them occupied the stolid center of a large and complicated extended Jewish family.

That family, as it heads toward catastrophe, is as much the setting of the story as its subject, and their fate as Jews under Nazi occupation is entangled in murky, sticky domestic issues of jealousy, betrayal and desire. An erotic spark ignites the first time Maxime and Tania meet — the day of his wedding to Hannah — and it causes plenty of guilt and tension. But it might have been safely (if agonizingly) extinguished in more peaceful times….

What is most impressive about “A Secret” is the way Mr. Miller artfully and gently gestures toward such enormous themes without spelling them out. Nearly every melodramatic impulse has been suppressed in favor of a calm precision that serves both to intensify and delay the emotional impact of the film’s climactic disclosures.

There is so much more to say about this movie, and given my past studies in 20th century French history, I feel compelled to say it. But I also want to wait until I have the chance to discuss it with one of my mentors and friends to get his take (and to ask him if he agrees with me about one possible anachronism amid all the incredibly good historical detail).

The film is just becoming known here in the United States, where Grimbert will be meeting with American readers/audiences in the coming days. I’ve already ordered the original novel from amazon.fr (it has been published in English in the United States as Memory), and I’m looking forward to hearing what the author of this intense, and intensely sad, story has to say when I attend this event at the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction in Manhattan. Keep an eye out for any Grimbert appearances near you. And go see that movie. ASAP.

Indignation Day is Coming!

September 16 is Indignation Day!

Via the Jewish Book Council “Recommended Reading Newsletter”:

“To celebrate the publication of Philip Roth’s new novel, INDIGNATION, Roth will be doing a live video broadcast out to 50 bookstores across the country on Tuesday, Sept. 16th (aka “Indignation Day”), 8 pm EST. The stores chosen to participate will have a quantity of signed copies on hand.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publisher Rebecca Saletan will introduce the program, and then Philip Roth will be interviewed by the author Ben Taylor. If you are planning on attending, please submit questions in advance for consideration. Instructions can be found at the link below.

Please click the link below to find a participating bookstore in your area:

Upcoming Literary Events at the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning

The Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El in New York has published its Fall 2008 Course Guide, and it includes a number of literary offerings I wanted to note here:

–“What’s Wrong With Our Children?” Parents and Children in Jewish Short Stories (Anne Roiphe)

–Six Decades of Israeli Literature (Basmat Hazan Arnoff)

–Writers’ Beit Midrash: Creative Non-Fiction (Shelly R. Fredman)

For more information, including dates and fees, visit www.adultjewishlearning.org.

JBooks & JVibe Present Get Lit 2008

Received an e-mail a few days ago about an event that may interest those of you in the Boston area. On September 25, JBooks & JVibe will present Get Lit 2008, billed as “a literary event for the whole mishpucha.” Get Lit will take place at the Union Street Restaurant in Newton, and will feature Jon Papernick, Tova Mirvis, and the father-son pair of Jonathan and Adam Wilson. More information here.

Tamar Yellin in New York City

(Happy to spread the word about this for the folks at the Jewish Book Council):

On Monday, August 4th at 7PM Tamar Yellin, Winner of the Jewish Book Council’s Inaugural 2007 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, will be reading from and discussing The Genizah at the House of Shepher at the Barnes and Noble on 82nd and Broadway (2289 Broadway).

From the Rohr Prize Judges:

“Yellin combines formidable Jewish scholarship with soaring lyricism. And, if scholarship and lyricism aren’t enough, she also displays a wonderfully quirky sense of humor. This is a writer who can do it all, bring history lovingly into the present and conjure an art of beauty and light out of the ardors of scholarship.”
—Rebecca Goldstein, author of The Mind-Body Problem

“Beautifully textured, as if it were made of Jewish threads woven through the English language. Its theme of dislocation and wandering
is the central story of Jewish history.”
—Ruth Wisse, Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature, Harvard University

Genizah at the House of Shepher follows Shulamit Shepher’s return to Jerusalem after an extended absence. She quickly becomes embroiled in a family feud over possession of the so-called Shepher Codex, a mysterious and valuable Torah manuscript discovered in her grandparents’ attic genizah, a depository for old or damaged sacred documents. In unraveling the origins of the codex, Shulamit uncovers not only her ancestors’ history but must reconsider her own past, her present and ultimately, her choices for the future. The tale of the family Shepher, their aspirations, feuds and love affairs, is a haunting one of exile and belonging, displacement and the struggle for identity.

Please join St. Martins Press and the Jewish Book Council in celebrating Tamar Yellin and The Genizah at the House of Shepher on August 4th.