This Week In Jerusalem

Somewhat belatedly, I’m reading all about the first International Writers Festival in Jerusalem, which took place this past Monday-Thursday (May 12-15). And I’m wishing I’d been there.

You can read some of the press coverage here, here, and, in tandem with coverage of a similar event taking place to celebrate Palestinian literature, here.

Of course, all “boycott” talk I’ve found so far has to do with urges to boycott the Israeli-planned festival, not the Palestinian one (and I’m not going to do the proponents of that cause any favors by linking to anything explaining their “reasoning”). It seems that Nadine Gordimer, in particular, was the target of appeals urging her to cancel her participation. Kudos to Ms. Gordimer for resisting the pressure.

Notes from Around the Web

This week PBS debuts a new series on “The Jewish Americans.” Look for more information on the series Web site.
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I’m grateful to Gershom Gorenberg and Hadassah magazine for introducing me to Israeli poet Haim Gouri, in a profile published in the January 2008 issue.
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Last month AJC Executive Director spoke in Berlin about “The U.S.-Israel Relationship: Fact and Fiction.” We can now read the text of his speech online.

Sami Rohr Prize Nonfiction Finalists Named

Faithful readers of my other blog may recall my enthusiastic mention of last May’s ceremony celebrating the fiction winners for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. The Jewish Book Council, which administers the prize, has now selected five finalists for the prize in nonfiction (the genres alternate).

The nonfiction finalists are Ilana M. Blumberg, for Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books (University of Nebraska Press); Eric L. Goldstein, for The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race and American Identity (Princeton University Press); Lucette Lagnado, for The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World (Ecco); Michael Makovsky, for Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft (Yale University Press); and Haim Watzman, for A Crack in the Earth: A Journey Up Israel’s Rift Valley (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

To learn more about the prize, which awards emerging authors in the field of Jewish literature who have written books of exceptional literary merit stimulating interest in themes of Jewish concern, please click here.

Creative Writing in Israel

If you have the new Poets & Writers magazine on hand (the November-December issue), please turn to page 155. You’ll see there an advertisement that caught my attention right away.

It’s an ad for “Creative Writing in Israel,” specifically, for The Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. I’m not necessarily in the market for another graduate degree in creative writing at the moment, but especially after my not-so-good experience in the program I did attend, the idea of studying writing in Israel, in a program emphasizing “Creative texts/Jewish contexts,” is enormously appealing.

So I’ve written to the program coordinator to find out more about any conferences/short-term opportunities that might be available. And I’d love to hear from anyone who might know about other (again, short-term) writing programs in Israel. Please comment here at the blog!

Hebrew Literature in Translation

A few years ago, when I had the good fortune to discover the works of Israeli writer Orly Castel-Bloom, I had the corresponding luck to find a terrific resource for information on other Israeli authors, too: the “Hebrew Authors” directory on the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature Web site. Check it out the next time you want to learn more about books originally published in Hebrew (or if you want to start such an exploration). I use it, for example, to check when I’ll be able to locate Castel-Bloom’s new work in translation, as well as to deepen my acquaintance with other authors I come across.