Jewish Literary Notes from Around the Web

Shabbat shalom, and Happy New Year!

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!

    Review of Promised Lands: New Jewish American Fiction on Longing and Belonging

    My latest book review, a discussion of Promised Lands: New Jewish American Fiction on Longing and Belonging (Brandeis University Press/University Press of New England, $26.00), edited by Derek Rubin, is now online at As good as most of the stories in this anthology are–and they are, indeed–this was a challenging review to write. See what you think of this review, and please consider the questions that I’ve raised there about how anthologies are compiled. I’m interested in your thoughts.

    Thursday’s Pre-Publication Post: Next Year in Jerusalem

    First, a brief explanation for those who may not be familiar with the full meaning of this post title. “Next year in Jerusalem” is a phrase uttered at the conclusion of the traditional Passover Seder. Many interpretations have been attached to this idea: offers a good overview.

    But for me, this week, the phrase assumed a very particular, concrete meaning. And that’s because this week, I solidified plans for Jerusalem travels in 2011. Not for myself, unfortunately. Instead, I made travel arrangements for my soon-to-be published short story collection, Quiet Americans.

    As of this week, Quiet Americans was registered to be featured at the 25th Jerusalem International Book Fair, which will take place from February 20th to 25th, 2011. It will be one of the titles brought to Jerusalem and shared with Book Fair attendees by the Jewish Book Exhibitors Association, a program of the Jewish Book Council (JBC). As the JBC notes, this is a terrific opportunity to introduce books of Jewish interest–a category to which Quiet Americans most definitely and proudly belongs–“to publishers who are searching for the best books to introduce in translation in their own countries, as well as to the substantial English-speaking communities in Israel and around the world.”

    Only time will tell what sort of impact my book’s voyage to Jerusalem will have on sales and readership. In the meantime, however, it is deeply, personally meaningful for me to know that Quiet Americans will be part of the literary scene in Jerusalem in 2011–even if its author will be back home in New York.

    To learn more about the JBC’s Jewish Book Exhibitors Association display opportunity in Jerusalem, please click here. NB: Early-bird discounted registration ends tomorrow, December 17, 2010, with a final submission deadline of February 1, 2011.

    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.