From My Bookshelf: Three Reading Recommendations

I’ve been reading some wonderful new books lately. Although I may not have the opportunity to write full reviews of all of them, I wanted to make sure I brought at least three of this spring’s releases to your attention. All three can described as “Jewish books”–and they’re all books of fiction–but I think that they also demonstrate what I’m always trying to point out: “Jewish literature” is, in fact, remarkably diverse.

Tsabari
First up: Ayelet Tsabari’s The Best Place on Earth. Tsabari is an Israeli-born writer of Yemeni descent who currently lives in Canada. Her new book of short stories hasn’t yet been published in the United States, but once I became familiar with her work, I simply had to splurge and order my copy via Amazon.ca. I’m so glad that I did. These finely crafted stories feature the voices and experiences of Mizrahi Jews–Jews from the Middle East/North Africa–a group that I haven’t often seen depicted in fiction (at least, not in English-language or translated fiction).

Sinners and the Sea
Next: Minnesota-based Rebecca Kanner‘s Sinners and the Sea. If you liked the way that Anita Diamant brought the biblical Jacob’s daughter Dinah to life in The Red Tent, you’ll surely admire Kanner’s novel as well. Sinners and the Sea depicts the story of Noah and the famous Ark from the perspective of Noah’s wife (who doesn’t even get a name in the Bible). Creative and compelling. I consider myself lucky to have been offered a review copy.

gerber
Finally: Merrill Joan Gerber’s The Hysterectomy Waltz, which traces–with sly wit and humor–the diagnosis, surgery, and recovery of a Brooklyn-born Jewish woman. I requested a review copy from the publisher, Dzanc Books, after reading an excerpt online in The Literarian. I suggest that you read the excerpt, too, and if it appeals, be sure to put the novel on your list (it will be out in May). Although Gerber’s work is new to me, she has published many books (now available in digital formats through Dzanc’s rEprint series), and is a past recipient of Hadassah‘s prestigious Ribalow Prize for outstanding Jewish-themed fiction.

What have you read lately that you’d recommend?

Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen

Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Mazel tov to the inaugural class of the Posen Society of Fellows.
  • More background on The Tower, the new publication I mentioned here recently.
  • Dispatch from the Twin Cities: “Jewish Arts Lab, or Why I’m a Jewish Artist.”
  • Win a book bundle from the Jewish Book Council (U.S. entrants only, enter by 4:00 p.m. EST, April 10).
  • Perhaps my most exciting #JLit discovery of the week: the redesigned website of the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature!
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of links, primarily of the literary variety.

  • Rebecca Klempner presents a true Passover story that epitomizes an instance when reality seems stranger than fiction.
  • Many of us perceive Tay-Sachs disease to be a malady that strikes only Jewish families; Emily Rapp isn’t Jewish, but her son, Ronan, recently succumbed to the disease. Judy Bolton-Fasman writes about Rapp’s new memoir, which opens with Ronan’s diagnosis.
  • Canada-based author Ayelet Tsabari recently wrote a series of guest posts, my favorite of which deals with the challenges she has faced in writing about Israel.
  • Beth Kissileff profiles Shimon Adaf, most recent recipient of Israel’s prestigious Sapir Prize.
  • Latest Quiet Americans news.
  • Shabbat shalom.

    Reflections on the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Finalists

    samirohrlogoYesterday, the Jewish Book Council announced the finalists for the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. As the press release notes, this prize “distinguishes the important role of emerging writers in examining the Jewish experience. The award of $100,000—one of the largest literary prizes in the world—honors a specific work as well as the author’s potential to make significant contributions to Jewish literature. A runner-up is awarded $25,000.”

    From its beginnings in 2007, the prize has alternated between fiction and nonfiction. This year’s prize will go to a fiction writer, and the finalists are: (more…)

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish news, primarily of the literary variety, from around the Web.

  • A Q&A with Ann Kirschner about her new biography of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. (This also happens to be my first post for The Forward’s Sisterhood blog!)
  • Kirschner’s book is also featured as part of the “books” segment of The Jewish Week‘s spring arts preview.
  • Washington Jewish Week is looking for a Senior Reporter.
  • A.B. Yehoshua’s English publisher promoted Yehoshua’s new novel within the Goodreads “Jewish Book Carnival” group. I stayed quiet. At first.
  • More literary tsuris? The next PEN World Voices festival (focusing on the theme of “bravery”) will feature a panel on Palestinian literature–moderated by BDS activist Judith Butler. Somehow, this news fills me with foreboding.
  • Shabbat shalom!

    Jewish Literary Links for Shabbat

    Photo Credit: Reut Miryam Cohen
    Every Friday morning My Machberet presents an assortment of Jewish news, primarily of the literary variety, from around the Web.

  • Jonathan Gondelman’s thoughtful review of a translation of Hans Keilson’s Life Goes On, in Jewish Ideas Daily.
  • Among the many recent appreciations of Edward I. Koch, my favorites include pieces by two writers I’ve admired for a long time: Jeffrey Goldberg and Thane Rosenbaum.
  • On Tablet, Jew-by-choice Jamaica Kincaid discusses her new book.
  • An intriguing list: “Top 25 Literary Classics About Israel.”
  • Remember this Keshet contest? The contest has produced The Purim Superhero, a new children’s book published by Kar-Ben. See this article from The Jewish Week all about this book featuring Nate, “a Jewish boy with two dads,” and the book’s author, Elisabeth Kushner.
  • Shabbat shalom.